By Reima Choute (Reporting Assistance By Serin Sarsour)
New York City goes all out when it comes to Halloween, so it should come as no surprise that an abundance of pumpkins go to waste every spooky season. Brooklyn College’s Sustainability Club, however, decided to take action and put a twist on composting by hosting their first-ever “Pumpkin Smash” at the Flatbush Nostrand Junction on Thursday, Nov. 2. This five-hour event featured pumpkin-themed games, compost education stations, and the much-anticipated pumpkin smashing, where attendees could smash donated, used pumpkins and pumpkins of their own.
Amidst their sustainability efforts throughout the school year, the club was able to create a fun way to merge composting with spooky season festivities. “The Sustainability Club’s motivation for holding the Pumpkin Smash event around Halloween was a strategic response to show and combat the substantial food waste generated during the holiday season, particularly around Halloween […] we were able to compost over 1.7 tons of compost at this event,” said BC Sustainability Club President Sofia Mariyamis. During the fall season, many farms produce an abundance of pumpkins for consumers to buy. The pumpkins purchased for fun aesthetics and carving often lead to a surplus that goes to waste. Instead of wasting them this season, the Sustainability Club wanted to find an enticing way to get BC students and the Flatbush community to compost. The smashing allowed students to let out frustrations from midterms week, test their strength, and take a meaningful step toward preserving the environment.
The composting process after the pumpkins were smashed was facilitated by GROWNYC, an NYC environmental organization that provides services like food scrap drop offs, clothing collections, and more. They were able to help the Sustainability Club by collecting the compost and transporting it to composting facilities, where they go through the process of being “mixed with carbon-rich materials like leaves and wood chips,” Mariyamis explained. “The finished compost soil is then put to good use, benefiting farms local to New York, houseplants, gardens, and street trees.” Mariyamis also noted that this just goes to show how everyone can all contribute to the sustainability effort and find ways to lessen food waste. Through highlighting the importance of composting within the BC and Flatbush communities, Mariyamis noted that this event emphasized the cultivation of environmental consciousness and knowledge. By engaging students in the practice of composting, it not only encourages a reduction in waste, but it also “empowers students to reduce waste, minimize their carbon footprint, and actively contribute to a greener future,” Mariyamis said. The Sustainability Club acknowledged that the Flatbush Junction Business Improvement District played a crucial role in helping make this event come to life by supplying the club with a space to hold the event, which was then able to reach a broader audience. The BC Vanguard’s very own Kate Dempsey was also there to show her support for the composting initiative and even demonstrated her DJing skills during the event to bring excitement and add more fun to the atmosphere. This elevated the overall experience, ensuring that attendees were thoroughly entertained. The BC Sustainability Club is always finding interesting ways to bring sustainability awareness on campus and make these opportunities accessible to students. The club plans on making the Pumpkin Smash an annual event to continue making strides like this every Halloween. “As for upcoming events, in November, we have another highly anticipated Leaf Raking event scheduled for the end of the month,” said Mariyamis. Interested students can stay up-to-date on events hosted by the Sustainability Club and ways to get involved by checking out @bcsustainabilityclub on Instagram.