Halloween Recycling - How to Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween wasn’t quite the ‘big deal’ in the UK as it has been in the US, but it’s catching on. And, why wouldn’t it? Everything about it is fun, from the pumpkin carving to decorations to costumes to trick-or-treating. What’s not ideal is that, sometimes, it can be not-so-good for the environment. That is why we need to think about Halloween recycling—starting with the pumpkin.

Did you know there are so many ways of reusing your Halloween pumpkin? 

Let’s learn about some fun ways your Halloween pumpkin can be reused, so you and your kids can enjoy them even after Halloween is passed.

Pumpkins are edible, so you can eat them

Carving out Jack O’lanterns from a pumpkin is one of the most intrinsic Halloween traditions. It dates back centuries, although it was originally turnips that were carved into faces.

Jack O’lanterns are made by cutting out a hole at the top of the pumpkin and scooping out the flesh and seeds, creating a hollow sphere. Then, you carve out eyes and a mouth, so when you put a candle inside the hollow, it makes an eerie face. Most people cut out a simple face, while others go all out and show their creativity. However, we sometimes forget that the flesh and seeds we scoop out are edible. They don’t need to go in the bin.

Pumpkin flesh can be used in many recipes, including soups and stews. But, it can also be used to make pumpkin pie, another Halloween staple. 

(Interested in more recipes that use food that might otherwise be wasted? Check out Love Food, Hate Waste)

Similarly, the seeds that you extract from the pumpkin can be saved to grow your own pumpkins next year. Alternatively, you can roast them to eat. Yes, they are edible! They are no different from the pumpkin seeds you get to put on your salad, oatmeal, or in your bread.

Make your own pumpkin spice-flavoured candles

A ripe pumpkin has tough skin and can hold its shape quite well for a long time. That makes it a perfect container for your homemade candle. Scoop out the flesh and fill the hollowed-out shell with melted wax, pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, dried ginger, cloves, nutmeg).Then, stick in a wick and you have a Halloween-scented candle!

Do you like the idea of a nice scent but don’t want to use a candle? Use the shell as a potpourri holder instead. Fill it with fragrant materials to create the mood for Christmas. Or you could just fill it with your favourite scents and not bother with a theme at all.

Use the shell as a planter

As we said earlier, pumpkins are tough little things. So, if you think a candle is not quite the right thing for you, you can use the shell to make a crafty planter instead. Drill a few drainage holes in the base and fill the inside with soil. Now, you can plant whatever you want in this unique ‘pot’.

The best part is, if you’re growing seeds for planting out in spring, you can overwinter them inside and then put the entire pumpkin planter into the soil in spring. It will decompose and provide food for your plants!

Make pumpkin bowls to serve Halloween party food

Pumpkin bowls are sturdy enough to hold their shape, and they are food-grade (because they are food!) So, if you’re throwing a Halloween party, what better container could you have to serve your dips and soup in?

And, there’s no washing up at the end, so it’s a win-win.

Dried pumpkin shells instead of gourd

You must have heard of the bottle gourd, a plant from the squash family, which is used to make bottles or water-holding containers. People would dry them. Once they were completely dry, they became hard and could be used as water containers.

Pumpkin is from the same family as gourds (cucurbitacae) and has a shell that’s almost as tough. You can dry out whole pumpkins, or you can cut them up and make your own gourd bowls.

Just be careful that you leave them to dry in a moisture-free place or they’ll start rotting or getting mouldy. In fact, if you can have a fan blowing air at them, you should get better results.

Once completely dry, they are almost as hard as coconut shells. You can paint them or decorate them as you wish. If you do paint them, you may not want to eat out of them. But, they do make pretty decorative items.

Make a bird feeder

So, you know how pumpkin seeds are edible? If you didn’t want to eat them, there are others who won’t say no to them—like birds. Instead of buying bird food with pumpkin seeds, why not feed them seeds from your Halloween pumpkin?

And, you can use the pumpkin shell to make an all-natural bird feeder. Simply cut the fruit horizontally and use the bottom half as a bowl to put bird food in. We’re sure birds will appreciate the helping hand through winter, and the blackbirds might also savour any leftover flesh inside. What’s more, other wild creatures, like squirrels, will also be grateful for an unexpected treat.

Use the flesh for beauty treatment

Pumpkins are a very nutritious food, rich in vitamins A and C. As a result, the flesh that you scoop out works not only as healthy food (which is rich in fibre as well) but also as a beauty treatment.

Take a few spoonfuls of pumpkin flesh and mash it up. Add a bit of coconut oil or olive oil and use the mixture as a nourishing face mask for glowing skin.

You can compost your Halloween pumpkin

Finally, your Jack O’lantern doesn’t have to go in the rubbish either. Chop it up and put it in your food waste recycling container. That way, your pumpkin, and other food waste will be sent for anaerobic digestion (AD).

AD is the process of using bacteria to break down food waste in the absence of air. The food waste gets converted to a biofertiliser, generating Methane (CH4) as a by-product. Methane is an excellent biofuel, so it is captured and burned to produce electricity.

AD is a great way of making sure the CH4 is put to good use, instead of allowing it to escape into the atmosphere.

This is something your council might offer. If not, you could ask them to consider introducing this service.

(Meanwhile, you could put the pumpkin in your compost bin. That way, it can feed the pumpkins you grow with your saved seeds in the next growing season.)

At BioteCH4, we collaborated with North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) to trial food waste collection, it was so successful that they decided to extend the service to more homes.

More councils are allowing households to dispose of their food waste separately from general rubbish. That way, it can be sent to be digested anaerobically instead of in landfills, where it can be detrimental to the environment.

Our Services

Alternatively, if you have a food and hospitality business where you generate food waste, we’d be happy to discuss how you can manage it better. Get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your food waste reduction strategy.

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BioteCH4, The Control Tower, Hemswell Cliff Industrial Estate,
Hemswell Cliff, Gainsborough, United Kingdom, DN21 5TU

Tel: 01427 667744

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