It’s expected that the UK’s crop of 10 million pumpkins will have grown to record size levels after this year’s wet and warm summer.
Of course, this is great news for people celebrating Halloween, with the vast majority of the harvest being snapped up by consumers in the week prior to October 31st. It is estimated that 95% of these giant squashes are destined to be carved into decorative lanterns, with only around 5% of them used as ingredients in pies, soups or stews.
However, heftier pumpkins also means that much more waste has to be dealt with. Naturally, this poses a challenge, albeit one which doesn’t have to exist. Food is the simplest household waste product to recycle, with all councils providing bins for its quick and easy disposal.
With the average weight of a pumpkin likely to be around 15-18lbs in 2017, it’s expected that a gigantic 70,000-75,000 tonnes of these most seasonal of vegetables will go uneaten this autumn.
What Happens To Pumpkins Which Don’t Get Recycled?
If the remnants of your pumpkin end up in your general waste bin, they will ultimately be sent to landfill, where they eventually rot away, but not until they’ve added more methane – a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide – to an already ozone damaging mix of refuse emissions.
The UK currently sends around 7 million tonnes of food to landfill each year, all of which can be processed in more environmentally friendly ways, including anaerobic digestion, conversion into biogas or even being put in a compost heap.
Which Parts Of A Pumpkin Can Be Recycled?
All of them.
Even the bits you wouldn’t normally eat, including the seeds, pulp and tough outer skin can be recycled with practically no effort.
If you’re making a jack o’ lantern, once you’ve scraped the pumpkin’s innards out, either put them straight into your food recycling bin or save them in a bowl to sort out later. It’s that easy.
After Halloween, the rest of the vegetable can go into the recycling, too. In fact, it makes a perfect sized container for whatever was removed in the first place – just remember to take the candle out first!
Can Pumpkin Seeds, Pulp & Skin Be Eaten?
If you want to go down the zero waste route, you can get really creative with your pumpkins.
The pulp can be used to make pumpkin purée, which can be added to anything from porridge and yoghurt, to being used as a savoury dip.
Pumpkin seeds are delicious when roasted, especially when they’re seasoned and put through a seed mix. If you don’t fancy eating them, your local birds and squirrels definitely will.
Even the skin can be thinly sliced and turned into crisps. Failing that, they can all be put to good use in a pot for making veg stock.
Pumpkins are a fantastic, versatile and tasty vegetable, but please remember to recycle yours rather than bin it this Halloween.