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On Saturday, 217 participants dropped off pumpkins from the Halloween season at the Morton Civic Center as a part of the sixth annual “It’s the Great Pumpkin Compost.”

Cars lined up in the parking lot November 6 with those inside popping the trunk or bringing out brown paper bags filled with jack-o’-lanterns that city employees threw in the large waste bin. Some parents and children threw in their pumpkins together to see how far they would land.

Another jack-o-lantern jumps into the bin, with a little help. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Kevin Johnson, the Recycling and Environmental Maintenance Supervisor at the Evanston Public Works Department, takes the lead on the event each year. He helped direct traffic, coordinate drop-offs and at 11:25 a.m. did the long-awaited “great pumpkin drop,” a ginormous donated pumpkin from D&D Finer Foods on Noyes Street that had to be lifted with a forklift, joining the hundreds of pumpkins that will soon be driven to a compost facility outside the city.

Move the slider to see the D&D pumpkin join the compost bin. (Photos by Sam Stroozas)

“Food scraps are one of the biggest parts left in the waste stream you can reduce, and this is just one way of reducing,” Johnson said.

Brian Zimmerman, a recent hire in the Public Works Department as the city Solid Waste Coordinator, also attended the event to see turnout and get more familiar with the process, as well as to be visible for Evanston residents in case questions came up.

“All of the pumpkins do get composted at one of the commercial composting sites in the Chicagoland area,” he said. “Ultimately this is just providing an access point for residents. They have other opportunities to compost within the city, but this one allows people that may live in apartments or multifamily units that don’t have bins to find a way to put a use to the end of life of their materials.”

Both Johnson and Zimmerman said the popular event will return next year. Until then, Evanston residents can compost pumpkins in other ways, such as through the Collective Resource Compost program or the Food and Yard Waste service.

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...

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