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UPcycling Your Pumpkins!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing the term upcycling all over the place lately, despite not being quite sure why the new trendy word.  In fact, it wasn’t until just recently when I finally searched the definition that it started to make sense, and I kinda got really excited about it!  (And since we’re talking upcycling pumpkins here, I thought you might like to know what it is too…)  Upcycling, at its basic core: is to reuse something in a way that cretes something of higher value or quality than what it started as.  Oooh!  Snazzy!  Instead of getting rid of something in a better way (recyling), here’s to a creating a whole new and improved item!  Love it.  So, since it’s October and we here in the U.S. are about to burn through approximately 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin, I thought it only appropriate to offer you some UPcycling ideas.  (Otherwise that’s a whole lotta pumpkin sitting in landfills…)


Here goes: rather than trash your pumpkins after you’ve gotten your fill of their use as “home décor,” you can:


Cook It!

The inside "fruit" of a pumpkin is just begging you to be pureed and turned into something scrumptious.  Pumpkin bread, cookies, pancakes, muffins, smoothies, soups… options are endless.  And, not only can you turn the gooey insides into something delicious, you can also turn those seeds into edibiles!  You can roast them and make them any type of variety from plain to sweet to super spicy.  If you like sunflower seeds, you will love roasted pumpkin seeds.


Smell It!

What smells better in the fall than pumpkin pie?  There’s no need to wait all the way until the end of November for Thanksgiving and baked pumpkin pies, you can make homemade potpourri pots with a pumpkin anytime!  After being cleaned out and carved, (or if you didn’t carve, simply clean a pumpkin out and cut some slits for vents), take a mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and rub it on the interior sides of the pumpkin.  Insert a small candle in the inside and light for delicious scents that will waft throughout your home.  Putting cloves into the lid will add extra pumpkin pie scent, just make sure they are inserted deep enough that there’s no chance they will come in contact with the candle flame.


Plant in It!

Hollowed out pumpkins make beautiful seasonal planting pots.  After cleaning out a pumpkin, fill it with potting soil and plant with some blooming season flowers.  Instant centerpiece! 


Donate it – to the Zoo!

Did you know that many local zoos like to offer pumpkins as seasonal treats to their animals?  (Lions are known to go crazy for pumpkin!)  If you’re close to a zoo, give them a call and see if you can donate your pumpkins to become local organic zoo food!  You might even be able to go and watch the animals enjoy their treat.


Free Bird Feed!

Zoologists have confirmed that feeding your leftover pumpkins to your backyard birds is perfectly safe, so if you don’t have any more uses when you’re all done but you do have neighborly birds, treat them too!


Craft with the Kids!

Dry the seeds and poke holes through them to make fun bracelets and necklaces or paint them and invent fun counting games!



And finally, when all is said and done and you’ve used and upcycled every last part of the pumpkin you can, rather than toss it in the trash, break it into pieces and add it to your compost bin to turn it into fertilizing soil.  If you don’t have your own compost pile, ask your friends or perhaps the local community gardens if they do.  Many cities are now creating city-wide plans for composting all pumpkins after Halloween; check to see if your city is one of these, and if not... maybe it's your chance to get one started!


Image Credit:  Melissa Bernais, via Flickr, through Creative Commons License.

Jocelyn is a greenie fanatic and currently obsessed with upcycling.  When not Googling new things to up-cycle, you’ll find her writing online content for energy efficient heaters.