got pumpkins? Compost them in the Common on Nov. 6

Boston does Halloween right. We decorate our stoops with pumpkins and a skeleton (or three); we dress up in costumes, kids and grown-ups alike; the city closes our streets to traffic; and neighbors open doors to trick or treaters. This makes for a wonderful night of community and revelry preparing us for the long winter ahead.

But once this night is over, we are left with lots and lots of pumpkins. In the US, we dispose of nearly 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins each year after Halloween. And when these pumpkins are thrown in landfills or incinerated, they get truly spooky by warming our planet.  

This year, don’t throw your pumpkins (or gourds!) in the trash, bring them to the Boston Common and turn them into compost instead. The Mothers Out Front Downtown Boston team, with permission from the city, has arranged for Black Earth Composting to bring a truck into Boston Common to take our pumpkins away and turn them into nutrient rich soil. On November 6, the Black Earth truck will be parked in the Common near the corner of Charles Street and Beacon Street and available to take your pumpkins from 2:30-5:00. 

Why compost? Composting reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In Massachusetts, food waste accounts for more than 25% of our waste stream after recycling. Across the country, municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions and ~40% of that methane is generated from food scraps. 

Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas–it absorbs ~84 times more heat than carbon over a 20-year time frame and is responsible for 30% of the planet warming we’ve seen so far. The good news is that methane is a short acting gas–after about 11 years, it dissipates in the atmosphere. This means that reducing methane emissions now is the best lever we have to slow the pace of temperature rise, helping to avoid climate tipping points and enabling us to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

Composting also creates rich soil–soil with increased microbial activity that suppresses plant disease and with better soil “structure” which improves water retention preventing floods, drought, and erosion, and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Compost creates healthy soil with rich organic matter that not only supports plant health and growth, but also sequesters carbon deep in the earth where we need more of it to go. Compost is just wonderful stuff, and your pumpkins can help.

Composted pumpkins need to be as natural as possible–paint, stickers, and other added doodads cannot be composted, so please clean them as well as you can before composting. Wax is also a problem so using battery operated lights is preferred over candles or you can clean out any wax before composting. Basically, make the pumpkin scary, but keep it natural. 

The Mothers Out Front Downtown team will be on hand at the truck on November 6 to help out and answer any questions you may have about composting. 

If you find yourself inspired to start composting the rest of your food scraps, Boston is planning to expand its composting trial again this fall. You can sign up at Contrary to some bad information out there, composting will help our rat problem by keeping food scraps off the streets. 

We look forward to seeing you and your pumpkins on November 6 between 2:30 and 5:00 on the Boston Common. The truck will be there rain or shine. If you would like to learn more about the Mothers Out Front Downtown team and join with your neighbors to help the climate, you can email us at [email protected].

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