We believe in full honesty here at Postconsumers, so we’ll admit upfront that we didn’t know there was any debate between using fake plastic Halloween pumpkins and real ones until somebody alerted us to some heated Facebook and social media debates on the topic. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if this is the first that you’re hearing of the debate as well! But in the interest of covering all topics that may be of concern to a dedicated Postconsumer, we did some research into the pros and cons of plastic versus real pumpkins and will summarize them here. We will give you a spoiler: the information and arguments aren’t much different than those that you’ll find in the real versus fake Christmas tree debate. But we’ve found fun ways to play with words to discuss the topic when it comes to pumpkins!
Is There Any Upside to a Plastic Pumpkin? Yes. Actually There Is!
We’re going to go ahead and assume that we know our audience fairly well and that many people are immediately scoffing and saying, “Why would anybody use a plastic pumpkin? It’s bad for the environment and likely is made using labor and human rights practices that you don’t support and then sold by a big box store that you don’t support!” Well, yes. All of that is true. And we’ll talk about that later on in this article. So how can there be any benefit to that? Well, much like the real versus fake tree argument, with a fake plastic pumpkin you’re only generating resource use and carbon footprint once. Once you have the plastic pumpkin, you can use it year after year after year without more resources having to be expended. That is a plus, because there is absolutely an emissions factor to any type of farming. So, the answer to this subheading is yes. You can feel somewhat okay about buying and using a plastic pumpkin if you’re really going to be using it for many years to come. While it’s unlikely that you’ll actually end up creating less of a carbon footprint than by using a real pumpkin, there is a counter balance to the reuse factor that makes the two scenarios more closely related in terms of waste and pollution than you may realize.
Of course, if you really want to nail the eco-benefits of reusing a non-organic pumpkin, consider a glass pumpkin. Less pollution than plastic (in most cases) and you won’t have the downside of coming into contact with BPAs or other harmful chemicals.
Is There a Downside to Using a Real Pumpkin? Yes, Actually There Is!
While the general rule is that organic matter is always better than non-organic matter, we did allude to the possible problem with using a real pumpkin above. It’s not as though there’s no carbon footprint associated with farming, and depending on how many pumpkins you layer around your porch and home each Halloween season, you may be contributing to a fairly significant pumpkin growing emissions issue. What’s the answer to minimize this? Well, we’d argue that the answer is twofold. The first is to indeed try to buy even your decorative pumpkins and gourds from an organic agriculture source. While there’s still an emissions issue and a water usage issue, there’s certainly less chemicals involved. The second way to minimize this impact is to make sure that you use all of the pumpkin you buy. Toast the seeds (they’re super healthy people)! Bake with the inside pulp. Compost the remainder of the pumpkin when you’re done decorating with it. The more you use (and put back to the earth) the more you offset the footprint the pumpkin left.
So, What’s The Final Verdict?
The verdict is that, as in most things, you’ll need to decide for yourself where your comfort level is. It can be argued that there are pros and cons to each choice that you make. And we certainly think that a Halloween season without pumpkin décor would be tragic. Do you absorb the ongoing emissions, water and pollution issues of organic matter pumpkins, or do you bite the bullet with glass or plastic pumpkins that weren’t naturally created but will last for years? Only you know the answer. We just want you to be mindful about making the decision!
Did we miss a key point in the debate on real versus fake pumpkin decorations? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: VasenkaPhotography via Flickr