Once the fun is over, don’t throw pumpkins in the garbage can.
If one-quarter of households in Metro Vancouver carve a jack-o’-lantern this Halloween, there will be about 200,000 used pumpkins, a big pile of organic waste.
All municipalities in the region accept Halloween jack-o’-lanterns in the green waste containers used for yard trimmings and newly introduced curbside services mean most municipalities now have residential compost pickup in single-family residential areas.
“Pumpkin carving is a cherished tradition that doesn’t have to leave behind a big pile of waste,” said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore. “Enjoy your Halloween but please don’t put Jack in the trash.”
Food scraps and yard trimmings account for about 40 per cent of the waste in residential garbage.
“With expanded curbside service, composting is easier and more convenient than ever,” added Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee Chair Malcolm Brodie. “Composting food waste is an easy way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.”
So even once they leave people’s homes, they can continue to be quite scary. As these organic materials degrade in a landfill, they generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps about 20 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane and other greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere, thickening the heat-trapping blanket of insulation around the Earth.
Backyard composting is one of the simple things individuals can do to keep food scraps out of landfills and reduce emissions of methane. In some Metro Vancouver municipalities, up to 60 per cent of the households already use a backyard composter.
There are various ways to keep jack-o’-lanterns out of the trash.
Jack has Curb Appeal
Curbside collection of food is available in single-family residential areas of Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, New Westminster, the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, the Township of Langley, Vancouver, West Vancouver and White Rock.
All municipalities in the region are allowing residents to put Halloween jack-o’-lanterns into the green waste containers used for yard trimmings.
Please do not put plastic bags, including bags marketed as “biodegradeable” or “compostable,” into the containers used for yard trimmings and food scraps.
Pumpkins are edible, and high in fibre and antioxidants. Search ‘pumpkin’ at www.epicurious.com or visit www.pumpkinnook.com/cookbook.htm for recipes. Roasted pumpkin seeds are nutritious and make a great snack.
Put Jack in the Box
Chop Jack into thumb-sized pieces and put the pieces into a backyard composter. Or put pieces of pumpkin in a worm compost bin. The worms will thank you and you will get nutrient-rich compost that you can use to grow next year’s pumpkin.
Return Jack to his Roots
Dig a shallow trench in your vegetable or flower garden and place chopped pieces of Jack throughout. Fill in the trench and let him rest in peace.