BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Halloween night may be filled with frights, but garbage day is where the real horror lurks. Discarded by the 1,000s, decaying jack-o-lanterns and rotting pumpkins are hauled off to landfills by the truckload. Every year, masses of orange flesh pile-up and break-down in our local landfills producing methane, the greenhouse gas with an environmental impact more frightening than your scariest, Boo! Luckily, this is a haunting fate we can easily fix.
University of Illinois Extension serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties will host a local pumpkin smash, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Saturday, November 4 at Rader Family Farms, 1312 Ropp. Road, Normal, IL. Area residents are encouraged to bring pumpkins, carved or whole, for environmentally friendly disposal. In partnership with Town of Normal and Illinois State University Department of Agriculture, pumpkins will be trucked off for composting at University Farm. Rader Family Farms will open restrooms and concessions for this post-season event.
“The pumpkin smash is an annual effort to divert pumpkins from landfills by providing locations for residents to drop off (and optionally smash) carved or expired pumpkins, which are then composted.” says original event creator, SCARCE—School & Community Assistance for Recycling & Composting Education.
For an afternoon of adrenaline, gather a group of friends, family, or pumpkin smashing fanatics and enjoy a new fall tradition—obliterating an orange orb for the good of our blue planet. Come dressed for a pumpkin smash but bring your pumpkin naked. Pumpkins should be free of candles, stickers, glitter, or anything synthetic and non-compostable. Pumpkins covered in water-based paints are suitable for composting.
Methane gas is produced by pumpkins when they pile up and become buried in landfills. As these orange watery orbs (~90% water) break down, they lack access to oxygen. Instead, they breakdown anaerobically (without oxygen), and the decomposition makes the greenhouse gas methane.
Following the pumpkin smash, 1,000s of pounds of pumpkins will travel by truck to their final resting place—University Farm. Illinois State University Department of Agriculture composts on-farm animal waste to reduce their environmental impact. In 2023, several tons of re-routed pumpkins from Central Illinois will be added to the composting efforts.
In partnership with local towns, cities, and municipalities across the state, Illinois Extension is joining this SCARCE-affiliated event to fight climate change. Since the first SCARCE-sponsored pumpkin smash in 2014, over 1,000 tons of pumpkins have been kept out of landfills. In 2023, over 80 pumpkin smash events will be held across the state. Go green this Halloween with a local pumpkin smash. Don’t Trash It, Smash It! To learn more about composting at University Farm, call 309.438.0288. For more information on this program or upcoming events, please visit us at go.illinois.edu/LMW or scare.org/pumpkins, or contact Nick and his team by phone at 309-663-8306 or by email at email@example.com. If you will need an accommodation in order to participate, please contact us. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.
Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.