Candy bowls are stocked, our costumes are on, and pumpkins are carved and ready to be lit - Halloween is finally here! But once the spooky season passes and November rolls around, Coloradans may be wondering what to do with their rotting Jack-o-lanterns and decomposing pumpkins – other than letting them sit on the porch until Christmas…

Miguel Teirlinck/Unsplash
Miguel Teirlinck/Unsplash

After Halloween is over, the City of Fort Collins suggests composting old pumpkins. Composting helps to keep hundreds of pumpkins from piling up at Colorado's landfills. Plus, since they are ninety percent water, they break down very easily.

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This environmentally-friendly option can be done in backyard compost systems or through local compost companies. Currently, Eco-Cycle CHaRM in Boulder, GFL (Alpine Waste and Recycling) in Denver, Common Good Compost, and Compost Queen all accept Colorado residents' rotting pumpkins. Loveland residents who do not subscribe to the yard debris cart service can take their pumpkins to the City’s Recycling Center at 400 N. Wilson Avenue.

Leaving pumpkins out for wildlife might seem harmless but it could lead to unintended consequences. Colorado Parks and Wildlife actually warns of doing this in the Centennial State, with the exception of farmers and ranchers feeding domestic livestock. Household chemicals that are often sprayed on pumpkins for protection, like WD-40 or floor wax, can be very harmful to animals. If your pumpkins are coated with anything, do not feed them to wild animals or domestic livestock in Colorado. The same goes for painted pumpkins.

Feeding pumpkins to wildlife can also habituate those animals to human forces and cause them to congregate, which can lead to the spread of disease. Coloradans should avoid dumping their pumpkins on public lands for these same reasons.

Plastic pumpkins can be donated to local thrift shops or thrown away. They should not be included in recycling.

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Gallery Credit: AJ Battalio