That Rotting Jack-O-Latern Can Be Recycled, Thanks To Local Woman

Steve Miller
October 31, 2018 - 3:56 pm

ID 36275 © Photoeuphoria |


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- You know about recycling Christmas trees - but did you know you can also recycle your jack-o-lanterns?

It was five years ago when a woman named Kay McKeen decided that pumpkins needed to be recycled -- to become compost and then enrich the soil.

"It kind of makes me crazy when you drive by somebody's house and it's the day after Halloween and they've got the pumpkin sticking out of their garbage can," she said.

McKeen is the founder of Scarce, a Glen Ellyn-based environmental action group.

She organized pumpkin recycling efforts five years ago - and she said there are more pumpkin recycling locations every year.

Pumpkins are about 90 percent water, and their compost is good for Illinois soil, which produces most of the country's supply of pumpkins, according to Scarce's website.

One of the groups she's worked with in Wheaton is students from Warrenville South High School.

"When parents bring little kids - who couldn't lift a big pumpkin and throw it in - they had little pumpkins lined up, ready for these little kids to throw them in" the composter, she said. "And who doesn't like to smash a pumpkin?"

McKeen said there are more than two dozen pumpkin recycling locations in the Chicago area - most open 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday - and this year, there are four in the city of Chicago.

To find out where you can recycle pumpkins, click here.