The Jack-o'-Lantern gets a lot of attention this time of year. Just like a puppy lovingly picked from a litter, he's plucked from his patch (or the bin at the grocery store) and carried home. His popularity grows to monster proportions as your kids discuss which face he'll wear this Halloween.

Then, with a few clever carves, the magic happens. He goes from a plain-old-pumpkin to a snarling-faced jack-o'-lantern. Glowing and sparkling in the night, the "oohs" and "aahs" are plenty, as trick-or-treaters dash past his perch in search of candy. There's no doubt, Jack is a rock star.

But then, a horrible twist of fate-with one blow, his candle is out. Halloween is over. And Jack is lost in the dark.

Moms and dads who are eager to throw out the pumpkin may simply toss it into the garbage. Others may completely forget, leaving that ghoulish gourd to shrivel away on the front porch. But November 1st is really the scariest day for a jack-o'-lantern.

Well, this is not how it should be. Believe it or not, your jack-o'-lantern can live on well past the stroke of midnight this Halloween. All you need is some crunchy-creative inspiration.

R.I.P. (Rest In Pumpkin)

Give Jack a proper burial. Yes, bury that pumpkin! Grab a shovel, dig a hole and drop him in. It's just that easy, and it's totally eco-friendly.

This might sound a little strange at first, but can you think of a better way to dispose of your pumpkin? By putting him below ground, you've created zero waste. And buried jacks are like a Halloween gift for your yard. They're full of nutrients, making your soil rich and healthy as they break down. And guess who loves to feast on decomposing pumpkin chunks? Worms! Your old jack-o'-lantern will be quite a treat for all those hungry dwellers of the deep.

Bury your pumpkin about a foot under ground. It's not likely that animals will dig it up, but there is the risk of Jack making a comeback if he's not properly buried. Location is also important. An area where you plan to make a vegetable or flower garden next spring is a great spot. Have your kids mark Jack's grave with a stick or stone so you know exactly where to plant. Jack will respond in kind by giving your dirt an extra shot of fertilizer.

Creating a jack-o'-lantern graveyard is a Halloween ritual that simply makes clean-up FUN, and is also a good lesson in responsibility.

Tweet Feed

It's time to get crafty! With just a few slices and dices, you can transform that day-old jack-o'-lantern into a birdfeeder.

There are two clever ways to approach this:

  • The first: cut away the front of the pumpkin. This will leave a hallow space for you to fill with bird seed. Just put a shallow layer of seed inside to attract your feathered friends. The birds will enjoy the seeds, but they'll eat the pumpkin flesh, too, which is good for them.

    Use some heavy twine to create a sling to hang your feeder. Hanging your birdfeeder is a MUST! If you forego the sling and just set your gourd on a patio table, squirrels and other critters will find your bounty and make a mess of your porch.

  • The second idea is one we've all done with apples and pine cones. Simply cut your jack-o'-lantern into small chunks, slather them with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed, and hang with some twine. Parents, if you're feeling super-crafty, you can cut the pumpkin into simple shapes like stars or triangles. This is the perfect way to show Mother Nature just how eco-chic Halloween can be.

Critter Snacks (Pumpkin Flavored)

How many times have you caught a squirrel or another one of nature's beautiful creatures feasting on your pumpkins? Usually, those critters are after the seeds. But even when the seeds have been removed and the flesh is now your prized jack-o'-lantern, fluffy-tailed rodents-known as squirrels-refuse to take "no" for an answer. So once Halloween is over…just let them have at it! You don't need your gourd anymore, so let them feast!

Deer also love pumpkin. So if you have a wooded area near your house, it's perfectly OK to toss it back there. And if you have city chickens pecking around your neighborhood, you're in luck! Pumpkin is a nutritious and delicious meal for chickens. Hand over your jack-o'-lantern as a neighborly gesture and you just might get some fresh eggs in return.

As you can see, Jack is full of surprises. But if you want to give him a proper post-Halloween purpose, there are a few Do-Nots to keep in mind.

  • Do not use paint or glitter to decorate your jack-o'-lantern. Toxic chemicals are no good for all of these eco-friendly suggestions.

  • Do not spritz your pumpkin with hair spray or other repellents in an effort to keep rascally rodents away.

  • If you use a candle to light your jack-o'-lantern, be sure to put it on a plate so that the wax doesn't get on the pumpkin flesh.

Tossing your jack-o'-lantern into a trash is no fun for the kids or for the environment. But by creating an eco-inspired afterlife for your pumpkin, you've turned Halloween into HallowGREEN!

Candy Corn Fruit Cup

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple chunks

  • Mango chunks or mandarin oranges

  • Lychee fruit or banana slices

  • Whipped topping (optional)

How you put it together:

  • In a small cup, bowl or glass, add a layer of pineapple chunks.

  • Next, add a layer of mango or Mandarin oranges. (You can also do both!)

  • Top it off with lychee fruit or sliced bananas.

Note: Do you see where this is going? It should look like the layers of candy corn…without all that refined sugar! If you can't find canned Lychee fruit, and you don't like bananas, add whipped topping or some coconut cream.

Laundry Goblins

What you'll need:

  • Used dryer sheets

  • Modge Podge (White School Glue will work too)

  • Sponge brush

  • Googly eyes

  • Thread

  • Water bottle

How you put it together:

  • Lay your dryer sheet out flat.

  • Paint on a coat of Modge Podge.

  • Flip over and cover the other side.

  • Place on top of a water bottle and mold into ghost shape.

  • Let dry overnight. (Use a blow dryer if you're impatient.)

  • Once your ghost is hardened, pull it off the bottle. It might stick to the bottle, but a few tugs should do the trick.

  • With a sewing needle, add thread (for hanging) through the head of your goblin.

  • Glue on googly eyes.

  • Hang in front of your window or from a tree!

Note: You can fray the edges of your dryer sheets before you paint on the glue. You can also use multiple layers of dryer sheets for a sturdier ghost.

Mini Monster Garden

What you need:

  • Jar lid (Plastic ones work best, like Peanut Butter or mayo lids.)

  • Small air plant (Most floral sections of the grocery store have them.)

  • Aquarium gravel

  • Moss (from your yard or patio)

  • Mini Halloween toy

Here's how you put it together:

  • Cover half of the inside of your jar lid with moss.

  • Cover the other half with aquarium gravel.

  • Place your air plant in the gravel area.

  • Put your Halloween toy on the moss.

  • Enjoy!

Note: Both the moss and air plant should be sprayed every few days with a water bottle. You can change out the toy to fit whatever holiday you're celebrating! This is a great way to put those "lost" toys to good use.


Scott Meeks is your go-to guy for celebrating an eco-inspired Halloween. His "Crunchy Scott" YouTube channel is full of creepy crafts, clever recipes and devilishly fun party ideas.