Madison County hosting 'Pumpkin Purge' -

Madison County hosting 'Pumpkin Purge'

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ST. LOUIS ( -- You picked out the perfect pumpkin. You took it home, decorated it, turned it into a jack-o-lantern.

The day after Halloween you're asking, "Now what do I do with it?"

After Halloween we smash them, roll them and fling them into the air, but how about composting them?

“That pumpkin is going to provide really rich nutrients we can put back into Illinois soil,” said Eve Drueke, resource education coordinator for Madison County.

Last year, Madison County held its first "pumpkin purge," asking people to donate their old pumpkins.

It's done upstate, but no one in downstate Illinois was really doing it.

They collected about 1,500 pounds that would have gone into a landfill. Some estimates say up to 21 percent of a landfill is wasted food.

This year, Madison County is going to expand the purge. Alton Middle School & Highland Elementary are both collection sites, and will receive pumpkins from 9-11 am for the next few days.

“I live in the country I can throw my pumpkins in the woods. One of the teachers said ‘Well I never thought about it, people are putting them in their trash cans,” said Highland Elementary teacher Jackie Mollet. “So now we have a place to put them, they'll turn into compost and go back to the Earth.”

Teachers are using it in the classroom as a learning opportunity, talking with students about the life cycle of plants.

“It's a great learning experience for our kids,” said Susie Brauns, assistant principal at Highland Elementary. “They're used to aluminum recycling, paper recycling, everything else, but we've never actually used something they use on Halloween.”

Illinois produces more pumpkins than any other state. It's basically the pumpkin capital of the U.S.

“I believe Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the us so we find this particularly appropriate these are going back to Illinois soil,” Drueke said.

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