Illinois is offering residents an earth-friendly alternative for jack-o-lantern disposal, saving thousands of gourds from landfills and reducing methane emissions. Scarce, a local organization, has set up 49 different sites across the state where people can bring their pumpkins.
University of Illinois Extension educators continue to raise awareness, partially in an effort to combat bad advice being disseminated on social media, including recommendations to leave pumpkins in fields, abandoning them in natural areas for animals, or feeding them to household pets. These are all not advisable because of the legal prohibition of dumping anything on private property or in a nature preserve. Most animals don’t eat pumpkin naturally, so consuming the vegetable is likely to do more harm than good.
The first pumpkin drive was held in 2014 when close to 10 tons of pumpkins were composted. Last year, collections skyrocketed to 159 tons, as more people learned of the initiative.
2021 Sites in Chicago include:
Plant Chicago, 4459 S. Marshfield Ave.
Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th St.