Don’t Toss Your Pumpkins and Leaves, Compost Them

Media Contacts

CoPIRG Applauds Denver’s Plans to Expand Residential Composting Service

CoPIRG Foundation

Recycling advocates have a message to residents who are dutifully raking and bagging up their leaves – don’t toss them in a trash bin, compost them. That goes for Jack-O’-Lantern’s too. At an event at Denver’s Recycling and Compost drop off site, they highlighted that organic items like leaves and pumpkins make up roughly 50% of residential waste that can be composted either by bringing them to a drop off site or by signing up for the city’s residential compost program and putting them in your own curbside green cart.  

“Recycling is not just cans and bottles and a purple cart. It’s leaves, pumpkins, food scraps and the green carts too,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director standing in front of a green City of Denver compost cart. “Since green-cart eligible waste is about 50% of what we might toss in a trash can, we can divert tens of thousands of tons of trash in Denver away from landfills through a robust compost program and with drop-off centers.”

The City of Denver offers three types of carts and services to residents. A black cart for trash, a purple cart for recycling bottles, cans and paper, and a green cart for composting organic material. At the event, staff with CoPIRG Foundation and Eco-Cycle applauded the City of Denver for working to expand the residential compost collection program, which currently provides green carts to 12,000 homes. By the end of November, the City of Denver plans to expand curbside composting so that all homes will be able to sign up for the service if they wish to. Adding compost service costs about $10 a month. In addition, over the next three weeks, Denver will be offering weekday and weekend drop off locations for leaves and pumpkins free of charge.

“It’s great to see the City of Denver’s plans to expand composting services so that by the end of November, all homes will be able to sign up for compost services. For many years, you couldn’t get a green compost cart if you wanted one in some parts of the city,” said Harlin Savage, Communications Director with Eco-Cycle. 

In 2016, Denver residents landfilled 192,000 tons of trash. CoPIRG Foundation and Eco-Cycle highlighted a number of benefits to diverting organic materials like leaves and pumpkins away from landfills. When organic material is mixed with other garbage in landfills it decomposes anaerobically, creating dangerous methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 84 times more heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide in the short term according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Composting reduces this potential gas emission.

They also highlighted that the process of composting organic material creates a nutrient rich soil amendment, which can be used to improve the health of gardens, lawns and parks, and can act as a carbon sink, helping to pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Using compost on green spaces can also conserve water and reduce the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.  

“Whether it’s bags of leaves or carved pumpkins, fall offers a helpful reminder that we throw away too much that should be composted. For homes in Denver that haven’t signed up to get a green compost cart, the next month is a great time to do that. Even if you don’t, take those bags of leaves and bring them to a drop off center so they don’t sit in a landfill creating trash juice,” said Katz.  

The cost for enrolling in Denver’s compost program is $10 per month. Details on the City’s compost program and other recycling and waste reduction resources can be found on the City’s website at

Information on leaf and pumpkin drop off for neighboring cities:

Westminster – Leaf and pumpkin drop off…

Aurora – Does not appear to be city drop off options…


Arvada – Leaf and pumpkin drop off


Thornton – Pick up bagged leaves from curbs…


Lakewood – Does not appear to be city drop off options


Littleton – Leaf drop off…


Wheat Ridge – Does not appear to be city drop off options


Golden – Pick up yard waste from curbs


Centennial – Does not appear to be city drop off options


Englewood – Leaf drop off center…


Northglenn – Leaf drop off center


Commerce City – Leaf drop off


Broomfield – Leaf and pumpkin drop off


Highlands Ranch – Does not appear to be city drop off options


Boulder County – Leaf and pumpkin drop off and some curbside programs available…