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Halloween is upon us — along with countless pumpkins. But after the last treat has been given out and your jack-o’-lanterns start to droop where they sit, you have better options than throwing them in the trash. Try composting unpainted pumpkins in one of the following ways instead. By so doing, you’ll help support local growers, keep useful waste out of the landfill and even prevent some greenhouse gases.

Fayetteville program for city residents

If you live in Fayetteville, the city’s compost program is ready and able to take those pumpkins, as long as they’re carved only, not painted or otherwise decorated. Pumpkin innards are acceptable as well.

You can access the compost program in a couple of ways. First, you can use any of the city’s drop-off locations, most of which are open 24-7:

  • City compost facility (1708 S. Armstrong Ave.), open 8 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month from November to March. If you’re heading there before the end of October, hours are still 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (2925 Old Missouri Road), open 24-7.
  • Happy Hollow Recycling Center (1420 S. Happy Hollow Road), open 24-7.
  • Marion Orton Recycling Center (735 W. North Street), open 24-7.
  • Margaret’s Food Truck (704 S. Washington Ave.), open 24-7.

But wait, there’s more. The city’s holding a Pumpkin Pageant on Thursday, Nov. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Lower Ramble trail area just west of the Fayetteville Public Library. After residents create “a collaborative community display of pumpkin artistry,” the city will take the results to the composting facility.

Finally, Fayetteville High School students will have the option to take pumpkins to the school for composting in early November.

Whatever location you choose, your pumpkins will go into compost that all NWA residents can buy.

Smashing pumpkins in Bentonville

Fayetteville isn’t the only one getting in on the pumpkin action. Ozark Compost & Swap, which offers residential compost pickup services around the region, is hosting a pumpkin-smashing event from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, at Bentonville Brewing Company. The event’s open to the public, not just customers. Breaking pumpkins up makes transporting and composting them easier, plus it’s just more fun, right?

Ozark Compost customers can still leave out their pumpkins for regular pickup as well, though the company asks customers to break up pumpkins to fit inside their buckets if possible.

Other options

For those neither in Fayetteville nor a smashing mood, seeds and other parts of a freshly opened pumpkin can make tasty treats. You can also leave pumpkins out for wildlife or livestock to enjoy or simply compost them at your own home (though in that case, cutting or smashing them up would indeed be helpful). For backyard composting, Fayetteville has a helpful starting guide online.

Won’t pumpkins just “compost” in the landfill, anyway?

No: Organics certainly decompose in the landfill over time, but this kind of decomposition comes without the benefits of composting and brings its own issues. That’s because decomposition works differently in a landfill versus a compost pile. In a landfill, organic waste breaks down without oxygen and creates methane, a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide. Plus the landfill seals away many of the nutrients indefinitely. Composting releases some carbon dioxide instead of methane and can support CO2-absorbing gardens and landscaping. So before you throw your pumpkin in the trash can, please consider one of the above options.