Halloween has developed in to one of the largest social events in the UK's calendar over the past few decades. Synonymous with sweet treats, scary films and lavish costumes it is common place for both young and old to join in with the festivities on October 31st. While obviously holding a spooky undercurrent, Halloween is a largely joyous time where indulgence paired with harmless fun is embraced across the world.
Think Halloween and many of you will have strong memories; 'trick-or-treating' with friends while dressed as a very unconvincing ghost, cowering under a duvet with a partner to an 80's horror film or sitting with a parent, hollowing out a pumpkin.
Indeed, the pumpkin perhaps holds more pertinence and symbolic ties with Halloween than anything else. Walk through suburbia in any British town on the night of Halloween and the flickers of candles peering through the carved eyes is a common and welcome sight. On closer inspection one can really appreciate some of the effort applied to a pumpkin's face with the traditional lantern a good vessel to let many creative juices flow.
The popularity of the Jack-o-lantern is quite striking when looking at the numbers. In the U.K alone, 95% of 10 million pumpkins grown in the U.K are used for Halloween with the others used for cooking. Indeed, overall the U.K is estimated to use around 15 million pumpkins a year for Halloween alone. While on the surface this may seem like a plus for agriculture while also fulfilling a cultural role there are underlying problems around this yearly tradition that hold more sinister undertones.
Research presented in The Guardian last year suggested that of the 58% of households in the U.K that participate in the purchase of the pumpkins for Halloween 51% do not use the insides, with the hollowed-out pulp often put to landfill. When considering that this equates to roughly 7.5 million sets of pumpkin innards being wasted each year the environmental impact is hard to ignore.
Uncooked and unused both the insides and outsides of the pumpkin can be composted and recycled which would be an easy step for many to take that would eliminate a considerable amount of waste each year. Indeed, at Heritage Products we would welcome pumpkin in to our composting process with open arms. This is of course without considering the potential that a pumpkin's inside has. When cooked and used correctly pumpkin can be a delicious and healthy ingredient to use in the October chills.
The organisation Hubbub have created the movement named #pumpkinrescue that aims to provide nutritious and tasty ways to use a wholly underrated ingredient. We tried their Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe and were blown away at the quality of the dish you can produce with their help.
Hubbub have been running their campaign for 5 years now and have had great success at engaging many in pumpkin rescue events aimed at bringing communities together. These events provide carving and cooking workshops as well as soup tasting events that are helping to reduce the numbers around waste pumpkins each year. To find great recipes and events their website is well worth a visit.
While we would never wish away the pumpkin carving traditions that are tied to Halloween, we believe at Heritage Products that an adoption of a responsible and thoughtful approach to where a pumpkin's waste goes is important to consider. Halloween has enough scary stories already without the thought of wasting all of that lovely pumpkin goodness.