2020 has already been a frightening year for many but the scariest time of the year is still yet to come. It is estimated that in the UK up to four million pumpkins are purchased to carve out amazing designs and display them outside our homes over Halloween. The majority of people will just discard the edible flesh as waste. This adds a further 18,000 tons of waste – that’s the equivalent of 360 million portions of pumpkin pie! – to our already overfilled landfill sites…
Much of this waste is due to people being unaware of the versatility of the pumpkin as a food or not realising that the flesh discarded can actually be eaten. It is calculated that in the UK less than 33% cook the flesh of the pumpkins. On this basis, farmers are growing acres and acres of food for it to be just thrown away. There is so much more that can be done.
What can you do differently?
When carving pumpkins, save the seeds, as these can be roasted to make a tasty snack. Separate them from the flesh, wash away the fibrous strands and roast them for a few minutes. They can also be dry fried.
Make pumpkin soup. A warm, delicious dish that can be made in a variety of ways. From creamy and roasted to chilli and thai coconut, there’s a flavour for everyone.
Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website to have a look at some recipes: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com
We can easily deal with the remains of pumpkins at home, in schools or work as part of our efforts to reduce waste sent to landfill. In composting, pumpkins are classified as greens, being high in nitrogen, and will rot down to produce compost in 6-9 months. Before starting to compost pumpkins, all items used to decorate should be removed e.g. candles, wax, tin foil etc.
It is also important to remove any remaining seeds from the pumpkin, otherwise they may germinate in the bin or when the compost is used. If the Pumpkin has been treated with a preservative to prolong its use as a lantern, those parts that have been treated should not be composted. The larger the surface area exposed during composting to the composting microorganisms, the more quickly it will be composted.
The normal advice is to smash or cut the pumpkin into small pieces. Smashing a pumpkin with a hammer is part of the fun – for ALL the family (especially stressed parents!)
Find a sunny spot in the garden which will not be disrupted until the next summer, dig out a shallow pumpkin grave. Put all of your smashed remains in and cover with soil or compostable materials such as sawdust or leaves.
What More Can Be Done?
2020 has been a challenging year and it’s allowed all of us to take stock of what’s really important. While Halloween is clearly a time to have fun together, we can all do our bit to help towards a cleaner environment. This example may just be about a pumpkin, but with practice, recycling can become an important part of our everyday lives. It’s all part of a bigger picture.