Smash Pumpkins: Winnipeggers Toss Out Halloween Water Bottles To Help Stem Climate Change


Screams and laughter filled the air on Saturday as Winnipeggers lined up to throw withered Halloween pumpkins outside the parking lot at CF Polo Park, letting off steam while saving tons of large orange vegetables from going to waste.

« It’s another fun activity for the kids with the pumpkins after all the candy is gone and the sugar rushes are over, » said Jill Parsonage, who came with several smiling children.

« And it’s a great way to keep more waste from going to landfill. »

Hosted by Compost Winnipeg, the second annual Pumpkin Drop also raised money for year-round composting programs in the city.

Winnipeggers of all ages giggled and squealed with delight as they tossed wilted pumpkins into a truck parked under the CF Polo Park parking lot, about ten meters downhill. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Sylvia Girouard brought her youngest grandson, Matthew, who pushed their slightly shrunken jack-o’-lantern over the edge of the two-story parking structure. He splashed pumpkin porridge and stringy seeds into a one-ton truck parked below.

« It was really fun, » said Matthew, 8, his eyes lighting up with a shy, happy smile. « It was really satisfying when he fell. »

« Yeah, you broke my pumpkin! » Girouard chuckled loudly.

She was especially happy that a big pile of pumpkins helped feed the animals at the Little Red Barn Sanctuary in Oakville, Manitoba.

« Pumpkins are very nutritious, I’m really glad they do, » Girouard said.

Eight-year-old Christian Dela Cruz was one of the event’s youngest volunteers and helped sort the pumpkins into edible and inedible piles. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Eight-year-old volunteer Christian Dela Cruz helped sort colorful fall squash into edible and inedible piles.

« Anyone that’s not damaged, we put them in this truck, » said the boy, who tossed miniature decorative pumpkins into a parked van on the roof.

« It’s good to give farm animals different foods to eat, » he added.

Draw attention to the “food waste hierarchy”

Fresh pumpkins that have never been painted or pierced have been set aside for organizations including Community Helpers Unite Inc. and the Leftovers Foundation to be mashed and cooked into meals.

Those already carved into pumpkins were checked for candles and other debris, then thrown into the trash can, about 10 meters below.

« There’s so much we’re doing with this event, » said Karrie Blackburn of Compost Winnipeg, a social enterprise run by the Green Action Centre.

Karrie Blackburn of Compost Winnipeg says diverting pumpkins from landfill can help produce food and reduce methane emissions. (Darin Morash/CBC)

« First, keeping pumpkins out of the landfill. Second, we’re drawing attention to the hierarchy of food waste, » she said, adding that the group also didn’t want organic items immediately sent to the landfill. compost heap.

“There are opportunities to feed people by turning these pumpkins into food,” Blackburn said.

The group is also taking cash donations to fund a composting service for a local nonprofit, yet to be determined. The money raised from Pumpkin Drop from last year helped start a composting program at the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre.

« They started composting with us in July, » Blackburn said, « and they’ve already diverted over 3,000 kilograms of waste and have up to four bins on a weekly collection schedule. »

She said the 2021 event raised about 24,000 kilograms of pumpkins, which Compost Winnipeg estimates about 10 per cent of all Halloween pumpkins purchased in Manitoba last year.

A truck bed under the parking lot quickly filled with splattered pumpkins, as tens of thousands of kilograms of large orange gourds had to be diverted from the landfill. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Blackburn said that’s a substantial achievement, because pumpkins that end up in landfills don’t decompose properly, with results that may come back to haunt us.

« Without oxygen present, you don’t have all those good microbes, » she said. « This means the pumpkin will become septic. It produces a very potent greenhouse gas, methane, which as we all know is a major contributing factor to climate change. »

Instead, turning bulbous vegetables into compost offers additional benefits, Blackburn said.

« This compost can become a soil amendment or can actually be used for landfill remediation, » she explained, saying the city’s dumps process waste by alternating layers of trash and soil. , almost like a giant lasagna.

Blackrun said compost is a better alternative to what is often used in this process now.

« Not only does this save us from having to use topsoil, which is not a renewable resource, but it also sequesters the emissions that come out of our landfills. »

The municipal composting pilot project ended in September

Compost Winnipeg recently obtained city ​​funding to help expand its residential and commercial collection services.

The City of Winnipeg concluded its residential food waste collection pilot program in September, with a report to be delivered to city council next year.

Blackburn hopes councilors will move quickly toward a citywide compost collection program.

« We’re about a decade behind most major cities in organic waste diversion, » she said, adding that pickup service for single-family homes is at least several years away.

In the meantime, Winnipeggers can sign up for Compost Winnipeg’s collection program for about $35 a month.

Blackburn said around 40% of household waste is organic material that could be composted, nearly doubling the lifespan of landfills while reducing methane emissions.

« It’s one tiny step you can take in your day-to-day life to have a direct impact on preserving our planet’s longevity, » she said.


Back to top button