Halloween Has One Last Trick: Pumpkin Waste. Smash 'Em, Don't Trash 'Em, at These Compost Events

(webandi / Pixabay)(webandi / Pixabay)

Halloween may be in the rear view, but the holiday has one last trick up its sleeve: all those pumpkins, headed for the dumpster.

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To keep jack-o'-lanterns from clogging landfills — where they contribute to methane gas emissions — organizations and municipalities across the Chicago region are hosting scores of pumpkin smash events, all taking place Saturday. Pumpkins will be collected and composted instead of trashed.

Before dropping off a pumpkin, make sure to remove any candles, stickers, glitter or other non-biodegradeable decorations.  

A word of warning from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County: Pumpkins are not welcome in the preserves and anyone caught dumping gourds could be subject to a $500 fine.

Here are sanctioned smash events, all on Nov. 5. 

University of Illinois Extension in Cook County is sponsoring five pumpkin collection sites, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

— Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave., Chicago

— Lake View High School, 4015 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago

— Morton School of Excellence, 431 N. Troy St., Chicago

— Plant Chicago, 4459 S. Marshfield Ave., Chicago

— First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, 302 N. Dunton Ave., Arlington Heights, starts at 9 a.m.

Edgewater Environmental Coalition, third annual pumpkin smash, noon to 4 p.m., 6040 N. Clark St.

In the last two years, the event has diverted 8.1 tons of pumpkins from landfill.

Scarce has been collecting pumpkins since 2014, diverting 9.31 tons of pumpkins in its first year. In 2021, with 59 participating sites, that figure had increased to more than 242 tons. In total, Scarce has kept 538 tons of pumpkins out of landfill.

Scarce is partnering on more than 50 sites in 2022, from Vernon Hills to Geneva to Romeoville. Click here to search for a location near you.

The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with WasteNot Compost, is holding its first-ever "It's a Smash!" eco-fest, with more than 20 food, beverage, craft and entertainment vendors expected to take part.

The festival is set for Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1500 W. Catalpa Ave. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5. Smashing at the event is ticketed, for a small fee. Click here for more details. 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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