WITH some 16 million pumpkins set to be thrown away in the UK after this year’s Halloween festivities, the Forest Council is urging residents to compost or recycle their jack-o’-lanterns to cut waste and help reduce the environmental impact on the planet.
Environmental charity Hubbub says over half of the 30 million pumpkins purchased this year will go uneaten, with 41 per cent of people uncertain whether pumpkins labelled as ‘carving pumpkins’ by supermarkets can be consumed.
Cllr Andy Moore, Cabinet Member for waste and recycling, said: “While pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween, we’re asking residents to consider the extra waste created and to reduce, reuse and recycle where they can.
“Pumpkins are more than just a decoration but an extremely versatile fruit with every part, bar the stalk, completely edible. So one simple thing families can do to cut down on Halloween waste is to use their pumpkins up rather than throwing them out.
“Analysis of what ends up in the district’s refuse shows that too much food waste needlessly goes in our rubbish bins.
“If eating the pumpkin isn’t an option, the next best thing is to either compost it at home and as a last resort recycle it using the council’s weekly kerbside food waste service.
“If everyone chose one of these three options over 100 tonnes of food could be prevented from being wasted.”
Un-carved pumpkins can last for many months if stored in a cool, well-ventilated place.
Both raw and cooked foods, including pumpkin guts, seeds and flesh, can be recycled using the weekly kerbside food waste service, although larger pumpkins need to be reduced in size so they fit inside the food caddy, removing any tea lights and wax first.
Householders needing a food waste caddy can pick one up from the council’s reception in Coleford or order one online at www.fdean.gov.uk/orderabin.
Residents can line their kitchen caddy with newspaper, compostable bags or unwanted plastic bags, such as old carrier bags and used bread bags.
They can also pick up a 330-litre compost bin for as little as £10 through Gloucestershire Recycles, the countywide waste reduction campaign.
Elsewhere, Forestry England is asking people to ignore online tips and tricks telling people to toss their pumpkins in the woods for wildlife.
Andrew Stringer, Environment and Forest planner at Forestry England, says: “We see many posts on social media encouraging people to leave pumpkins in the woods for wildlife to eat, but please do not do this.
“Feeding pumpkins, or any other food in the forest, to birds, foxes, badgers, deer, and boar can spread disease and make them unwell.
“Pumpkins are also often decorated and have things such as candles in them. Animals eating the pumpkins could then eat a foreign object and this could kill them.”
To protect our forest wildlife and to help reduce food waste, Andrew also suggests using the flesh to make a delicious pumpkin soup or adding your discarded pumpkin waste to your compost to make a rich soil amendment for next year’s vegetable garden.
“There are lots of great ways to use your pumpkin after Halloween at home, and my favourites are to use the flesh to make a hearty soup, or to add to my compost", Andrew continued.
"They are 90% water so are a great composting material, adding a great source of nitrogen and moisture to my compost bin each year.”
Forestry England has also suggested some further ways you can give your pumpkin a new lease of life:
1. Make a pumpkin stock- By far the easiest and yummiest way to reuse that pumpkin is to eat it. Homemade pumpkin stock makes a rich base for pumpkin soup, or pumpkin risotto. You can make a simple stock with the pumpkin strings after you carve your Jack-o’-Lantern! Put all of the insides in a big stock pot with any other veggies you have on hand, like onion, carrots, celery, garlic, fennel, and mushrooms. Add a bay leaf or two, cover with water, and simmer for about an hour, stirring a few times.
Then strain out the veggies, and you’re done! You can use the stock right away, or freeze it to use later in tasty autumn recipes.
2. Pumpkin bird feeder – Recycle the tough outer skin to make a temporary bird feeder for your garden. Simply cut the tough outer skin in half, pierce a hole in the top, gently loop wire through and use this to hang your pumpkin from a tree branch. Once hung, hold the pumpkin gently fill the pit with your favourite bird feed. Make sure to remove the feeder when the pumpkin starts to rot.
3. Make a pumpkin bowl – Looking for something a bit different to offer your treats in this Halloween? A pumpkin bowl will be a hit with any trick or treaters that come knocking. Simply clean your carved pumpkin, line with a cloth, and fill with sweets and chocolate!
4. Pass along your pumpkins – If you don’t want to deal with the pumpkins yourself, there are some places that will take them off your hands. See if you can donate leftover pumpkins to zoos, animal shelters, farms, or community gardens. They'll be grateful for the compost material or animal snacks.