It is the time of year when all things pumpkin are mainstream: lattes, soup, beer, pies and the list goes on. According to a 2014 study, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is estimated that, out of the 1.91 billions pounds of pumpkins that are produced in the United States, only a small fraction are actually composted or even consumed.
Only, one-fifth of those pumpkins are canned and sent to grocery store shelves. The vast majority are used just for decoration, are carved into jack-o-lanterns, or they are just simply left outside, rotting for days before being tossed in the trash.
During pumpkin season, Zero Waste PA coordinated with many local events to donate/reuse pumpkins for other events and made sure they were at the very least composted or eaten by local chickens.
Many events like to do fun activities like ''pumpkin tosses'' which just lead to many pumpkins getting busted and subsequently trashed. This wasteful practice can lead to producing more greenhouse gas emissions in landfills. And not to mention, literally, throwing potential food away!
Conservation Consultants, Inc., Zero Waste PA, Allegheny County Health Department, and the Outdoor Classroom worked together to reuse and compost materials for their annual CCI Hoe-Down Fundraising Event.
All corn stalks, pallets, and pumpkins were set aside and hauled from a fall event sponsored by the Outdoor Classroom. The material was then hauled and reused at the Conservation Consultants 2nd Annual Hoe-Down Event.
The Outdoor Classroom event fostered informed stewardship of the environment in children by highlighting the connection between people and the natural world in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
This mission statement has lead them to increase composting and recycling at their event. After CCI's 2nd annual Hoe-Down, all pumpkins and corn stalks were hauled and taken to a local Pittsburgh garden for composting.
Finding linkages and common themes to donate/exchange resources between events, businesses and/or schools does not have to be difficult.
We already see it being implemented with food donations; why not expand to sharing other resources too? In turn, this model can save valuable resources from heading to landfills, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and embodied energy, all while building community engagement and resources.
Composting pumpkins is good, donating pumpkins is great, and sharing pumpkins with those in need is the best!
In addition to making environmental and financial sense, residents are encouraged to use their pumpkins wisely due to the national pumpkin shortage.
"Sugar pumpkins are grown primarily in Illinois, which produces about 90 percent of the supply each year. Libby's (a unit of Nestle which provides roughly 80 percent of the nation's canned pumpkin market) processes all the pumpkin it buys at a plant in Morton, Ill for their canned pumpkin products. But this year heavy rains hit Illinois and cut deeply into the sugar pumpkin crop."
Click Here to learn more about this year's pumpkin shortage and remember to use the rest of this fall's pumpkin crop wisely!(Reprinted from the December e-PRC newsletter from the PA Resources Council.)