13 ways to have a low-waste Halloween
Halloween is just around the corner, but how can I prepare for it in a low-waste way?
Halloween can be lots of fun – costumes, sweets and parties, but all of this can come at a large cost to the planet.
Did you know that 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin gets thrown away every year after they’re carved? That’s 8 million pumpkins wasted out of the 15 million that are grown.
The amount of pumpkins wasted would be enough to serve up 360 million slices of pumpkin pie, or to provide every person in the country with a bowl of pumpkin soup!
Add to that all the plastic-wrapped confectionery, and that’s a truly terrifying amount of food waste for one day.
Ahead of the holiday, food waste expert and ODDBOX co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe has provided 13 tasty tips and alternative ideas on how to have a low-waste Halloween, to get you wasting less and helping the planet this year.
Carve out your pumpkin and save the innards
Scoop out the innards of your pumpkin and you’ll be left with a whole lot of seeds and stringy flesh. Roast the seeds into a tasty snack or a healthy addition to your morning granola, turn it all into pumpkin seed salt or throw the stringy bits into soup.
You can even eat the skin! If you do remove the peel, save it by roasting it into crisps: sprinkle with salt, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and bake it for 25 minutes on the top rack of a 200ºC oven until crisp.
Trick or treat?
For a trick or treat pick ‘n’ mix, coat a random selection of dried fruit and nuts, and the odd coffee bean or cardamom pod in melted vegan chocolate. A brilliant game to use up your store cupboard.
Ghoulish food decorations
Make your own terrifying Halloween snacks (see below), but rather than buying additive-filled food colouring and extra packets of decorations, make the most of your staples.
Use flaked almonds for witch-like crooked teeth or fingernails, try walnuts for brains, and raisins, star anise or peppercorns for eyes, and little marshmallows for wobbly teeth (M&S do delicious vegan marshmallows). Peanut butter is a great natural ‘glue’, too.
Blood-red icing using your beetroots
Make your own natural food colouring to create ghoulish colours to coat onto biscuits and bakes. Got a few beetroots to use up? Use this guide to turn them into a blood-red colouring for icing your cakes. Or…
Raid your cupboards to make natural food colouring
We love these ideas using up berries, jams and even matcha powder to create totally additive-free, natural food colouring. Root through your fridge and cupboard to see what you can find.
It’s Halloween! What to make on the day:
Cut out the shop-bought plastic-wrapped sweets and chocolates and make your own treats to hand out at the door.
Try coating banana halves in melted vegan white chocolate for edible ghosts, turn clementines into mini pumpkins, apple slices into spooky faces and make your own terrifying plant-based cookies and decorate them yourself. See above for more all-natural decoration ideas.
Tasty toffee apples
Autumn is the season for apples. Use up those in your box and make festive toffee apples, swapping the usual plastic handles for wooden alternatives or even some twigs from your garden.
Use up your veg box
Don’t want to use a pumpkin jack-o-lantern? Carve bell peppers into ghoulish faces instead. You can even use them as a receptacle for crudités – batons of carrots, cucumber and celery – for a healthier treat or trick.
Stuffed Roasted Pumpkins
For a Halloween-themed dinner, use the whole veg with Vegan Life’s Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin recipe – delicious!
Terrify the kids with a bloody beetroot juice. Turn beets into soup, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, or try spiralising them for a bloody ‘guts’ veggie salad.
What to do with your leftover pumpkins after Halloween:
Serve up pumpkin curry
The usual Halloween pumpkins are often quite a watery variety and, provided you didn’t leave them outside, they can still be eaten even after you’ve carved them.
These are best turned into soup or a pumpkin purée for cinnamon-spiced pancakes or pumpkin pie. Try Vegan Life’s delicious pumpkin curry.
Donate your jack-o-lantern
If you left your pumpkin outside and you don’t fancy turning it into soup, see if you can donate them to your local animal farm or garden for feed or compost.
Alternatively, get in touch with environmental charity Hubbub who run an annual #EatYourPumpkin campaign and enquire about hosting your own online or IRL Pumpkin Rescue event with their ready-made resources.
Or, compost pumpkins by chopping them up and throwing into your own home compost bin or your council food waste bin.
Turn your pumpkin into a bird feeder
Simply fill your carved out pumpkin with bird feed and leave it out in the garden. You can also use the stringy flesh for composting and the pumpkin itself as a planter.
More about ODDBOX
In 2019, ODDBOX saved over 7,000 pumpkins from going to waste, where ODDBOX subscribers received pumpkins in their fruit and veg boxes before, during and after Halloween – when they’re most at risk of going to waste.
This year, the social enterprise and B-Corp will be looking to rescue even more pumpkins and provide their customers with the iconic orange fruit (yes fruit!) in their fruit and veg boxes during the Autumn months.
To date, ODDBOX has rescued over 6 million kgs of produce from going to waste with their fruit and veg delivery box scheme.
By food waste expert and ODDBOX co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe