Getting rid of your pumpkins in an eco-friendly way

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - If your pumpkins are starting to rot and you’re ready to toss them after the Halloween festivities, then there’s an eco-friendly way to do so. Instead of sending your pumpkins to the landfill, there are several ways you can make a “positive pumpkin” impact.

Wilmington Compost Company is hosting its 4th annual pumpkin collection event where the pumpkins are turned into food for animals or decomposed. The decomposition process takes about 4 months, and after that, the compost helps our gardeners, farmers, and landscapers across the greater Wilmington area. It sounds simple: you just donate your old pumpkin and it decomposes, but the process is much more complex than that.

Trey Alber, co-owner of Wilmington Compost Company explains the decomposition process.

“We take these pumpkins, and they basically act as another food waste feedstock. So, what we’ll do is we’ll take the pumpkins, and they’ll basically go into these wind rows, and with a combination of moisture, heat, and air, we basically break those materials down over a period of time until they end up being you know, a compost,” said Trey.

They work with the community, such as local restaurants, residential communities, farmers, and breweries to collect feedstock materials and scraps. They are then brought to their farm and layered with carbon- and nitrogen-based materials. From there, nature does its thing with microbes, fungi and bacteria breaking down and decomposing the organic materials. The resulting product helps many across the greater Wilmington area.

Not only does this process help create healthy soil, but it also benefits the air that we breathe.

“It’s neat, the overall impact pumpkins can have in the soil and in the composting process, but also the impact they can have just simply by keeping them out of the landfill and what that impact has on our air quality. It’s neat when we can all come together, keep the pumpkins out of the landfill, feed them to the animals and local livestock, and then ultimately return them to our soil to grow more pumpkins for the coming years and coming festivities,” said Riley Alber, brother of Trey and co-owner of Wilmington Compost Company.

In the United States, we create 1.3 billion pounds worth of pumpkin waste annually, with the most waste coming from the time around Halloween. When they go into our landfill and break down without oxygen, methane gas, which can be harmful, is released.

The Wilmington Compost Company’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gases, particularly methane, by providing eco-friendly disposal methods.

The pumpkin collection is going on right now through November 9th and there’s a second pickup week right after Thanksgiving from November 25th to December 1st.

Drop-off locations include: New Hanover County Arboretum, Wilmington Compost Company, NHC Hazwagon and the NHC landfill. You can find the specific times and addresses in this WECT article.

Wilmington Compost Company asks that anyone dropping off pumpkins remove googly eyes, candles and any plastic. The drop-off excludes pumpkins that have been painted with anything other than bio-based paints.

But if you can’t make it to a drop-off location, the Wilmington Compost Company offers a weekly curbside service where they pick up your household food scraps, including pumpkins.

You can sign up for this service on their website, where they show you a step-by-step of the process.

Lauren Schuster

Lauren Schuster

Lauren joined WECT in September of 2022 as a multimedia journalist/reporter. Lauren grew up in a suburb of Chicago and graduated from Western Michigan in 2022 with a degree in broadcast journalism. While attending school, she interned at WOOD-TV 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also worked as a lifestyle reporter for Rose Tv in Rosemont, Illinois.