If you’ve heard anyone suggest dumping pumpkins in the forest preserve for the deer and animals to eat, please don’t do that! Dumping pumpkins and other things in the forest preserves upsets their natural habitats in numerous ways. According to the Oct. 22 “Forest Way” newsletter of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, you can be fined up to $500 for dumping pumpkins, yard waste — or anything in the forest preserves.

What can you do instead with your pumpkins when Halloween is over? If you don’t have a compost bin in which to put your pumpkins, don’t put them in the trash. In landfills, pumpkins decompose and create methane gas, a greenhouse gas extremely harmful to the atmosphere. And because most pumpkins are more than 90% water, during decomposition, the pumpkins’ water leaks out, or leaches into the landfill and that water collects other harmful contaminates from the landfill, eventually contaminating our waterways.

Many Illinois communities hold “pumpkin smashes” every year on the Saturday after Halloween, where pumpkins are collected and properly composted, thus diverted from landfills. You can find a drop off location at: //scarce.org/pumpkins/. In Oak Park, you can drop off your pumpkins on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 4-5 p.m. at Barrie Park; or in River Forest at Roosevelt Middle School from 9 till noon.

An enlightening four-minute video, produced by scarce.org, can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Feco5-TEQ&t=84s

Mary Williams
Oak Park

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