Halloween is behind us, which means it's time to stuff your wigs, fake cobwebs, and plastic skeletons back into the attic until next October. Getting rid of the Jack-O'-Lantern rotting on your stoop may be a more complex task. Instead of chucking it in the garbage can with the rest of your trash, consider recycling, upcycling, or responsibly disposing of old Halloween pumpkins and helping the environment while doing so.
1. Leave old pumpkins for local wildlife.
You may have been using it as decoration for the past few weeks, but a Jack-O'-Lantern is still a fruit. Instead of letting it go to waste, set it out for the wildlife in your ecosystem to enjoy. Animals like porcupines, deer, and squirrels all enjoy munching on pumpkins. Just make sure you cut the squash into bite-sized pieces and don't scatter them too close to your house if you want to avoid attracting hungry animals to your garden.
2. Donate pumpkins to your local zoo.
Don't have much wildlife in your backyard? Many zoos accept pumpkin donations after Halloween. Whole pumpkins are not only a nutritious snack, but they can also be enriching toys for large animals like big cats and bears.
3. Compost pumpkins in your garden.
Pumpkins are biodegradable, which makes them great candidates for composting. Even if you don't have a dedicated compost pile, you can still dispose of old pumpkins naturally in your home garden. Just dig out space in the soil, add the pumpkin (either whole or chopped into piece to expedite decomposition), and bury it. Unless you want to see pumpkins growing in your garden next year, remove any extra seeds clinging to the inside before sticking it in the ground.
4. Smash it (and let someone else clean it up).
One of the most entertaining ways to dispose of pumpkins also happens to be eco-friendly. If your city or town hosts annual pumpkin smashes, you can get together with people in your community and smash your old Jack-O'-Lanterns into oblivion. When the mayhem winds down, all the pumpkin scraps are collected and composted.
Events around the world have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but spring is progressing as scheduled. If you're not lucky enough to see flowers blooming from your window or on safe walks outdoors, you can still watch them from your home.
Web cameras installed around the world are recording flower blooms in real time for the internet to see. Botanical events that would attract huge crowds in a typical year can now be viewed in solitude. If you're missing the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., you can tune into the Bloom Cam, which provides a live look at the National Mall's Tidal Basin as it bursts into color.
The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is closed to the public, but its annual orchid show has been reimagined as a virtual tour. In the video below, senior orchid curator Marc Hachadourian takes viewers through the living exhibit and shares facts about how it was made.
Virtual flower watching is also an opportunity to see blooms on the other side of the globe. Japan's famous sakura trees are now accessible through livestreams.
Your digital nature tours don't need to end with the spring flower blooms. Here are five national parks you can explore online.
A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
Markham Street Films
By now, you've probably already binged Netflix's bewilderingly bonkers docuseries Tiger King (2020). If you're ready to dive deeper into the animal kingdom, there are plenty more documentaries out there. From wildcats to whales, these 10 films will take you on a cinematic adventure around the world, introducing you to captivating creatures and the people who love them.
1. The Tigers of Scotland (2017)
The Tigers of Scotland (2017) brings viewers as up close and personal as possible with a small but mighty feline: the Scottish wildcat. The film delves into the efforts to conserve the disappearing Highland tiger, as well as the history and mythology surrounding the UK’s only “big cat.”
This 2017 Disneynature documentary will transport you to the world’s highest plateau in search of a family of snow leopards. These cats are famously tough to find, so Ghost of the Mountains offers viewers behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s like to track the elusive beasts.
3. Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)
This delightful documentary takes you deep into the competitive cat show circuit. Both charming and at times cutthroat, the film brings viewers on a journey to see which of the many cool cats and kittens will be crowned Canada's top cat.
Follow along as a National Geographic explorer and photographer embeds with a white wolf pack in the high Arctic. These wild wolves aren't used to seeing people, giving the filmmakers—and audience—an intimate window into the pack's daily lives and familial bonds. In addition to showcasing captivating footage of the animals, the three-part docuseries also features sweeping views of the starkly beautiful Ellesmere Island.
This docuseries, which highlights various dogs and their humans from around the world, celebrates the bond between people and their pups. But it’s more than just a montage of feel-good moments about humankind’s best friend: Each episode tells a broader tale about the human condition, crafting an emotional narrative that pulls at the heartstrings like a puppy tugging on a toy.
These birds will put your dad moves to shame. Watch the male avian performers shimmy, shake, and flash their feathers while attempting to woo their female mates. The documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, offers a colorful look at the wonderfully wacky world of bird mating rituals.
This documentary follows Hatidze Muratova, one of the last wild beekeepers in a remote village in North Macedonia. She lives with her ailing mother, nurturing a traditional way of beekeeping passed down through the generations and striking a balance between making a living and maintaining ecological balance. But everything changes when a nomadic family settles nearby, threatening Muratova’s way of life. The resulting story is both sweet and stinging.
This 2014 documentary highlights the park rangers fighting to protect the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As poaching and oil exploration threaten the park, the rangers and conservationists risk their lives to guard the rare creatures that inhabit it.
In the 1950s, Harry deLayer bought Snowman, a run-down plow horse destined for slaughter, for just $80 at an auction. Within months, the two were taking the show jumping circuit by storm, launching both horse and rider to new heights. This documentary tells the story of the friendship the two developed, and chronicles their lives both in and out of the competitive spotlight.
The waters around Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest are a haven for whales, who feed and find refuge in the quiet channels. With stunning visuals, this documentary highlights the tension of a community’s push to protect its wild places against the pressures of the ever-encroaching natural gas industry.