We don't know about you, but here at The Conscious Farm Kitchen, we absolutely LOVE Halloween! Fall is undoubtedly the best season, and nothing embodies the spirit of Fall – pun intended (and expect lots more puns throughout this blog, sorry!) – as much as Halloween.
The crisp chill in the air, the thrill of costumes, the sweetness of candy, and the artistry of carved pumpkins – it's a holiday that keeps us all young at heart, no matter our age. Halloween is that magical time of year when creativity knows no bounds and imaginations run wild, reminding us of the joy in embracing the spooky and the mysterious.
However, as we revel in the spookiest night of the year, it's crucial to keep in mind our commitment to the environment. Embracing the spirit of Halloween shouldn't mean haunting our planet with excess waste. Every year, the tricks and treats of this beloved holiday can accumulate into a substantial impact on our environment. What might surprise you is that Halloween's most frightful aftermath isn't the ghosts and ghouls, but the staggering amount of waste left in its wake. Cheap costumes, decorations, and single-use candy wrappers – they all contain plastic, most of which ends up in landfills or is incinerated. And let's not forget the aftermath of carved pumpkins going straight into your trash. So, let's not be monsters (unless that's your chosen guise) and instead, let's create an eco-friendly Halloween.
While some things are easy to fix – like thrifting your costumes and decorations and opting for sustainable candy choices – others are less obvious. For example, what do you do when your family still wants to go through the tradition of carving a pumpkin?
Well, that's where we come in! We've put our heads together and created a list of ways you can use all parts of your pumpkin pre and post Halloween!
Thousands and thousands of pumpkins end up in landfills after Halloween. Once the fun is over, you're left with a sad-looking pumpkin with a droopy carved face sitting on your porch, inevitably destined for your trash. Fear not – we've put in the effort and come up with inventive and clever ways to use every part of your pumpkin.
The white seeds attached to the stringy parts of the inside of the pumpkin.
1. Roast the Seeds
A classic method, you may have seen this one before. Pumpkin seeds are not only super nutritious but also delicious – you might have had them scattered across one or two of your prepared meals from us already. They're easy to roast, simply scrape them our of your pumpkin, wash them, dry them, toss them in a little oil and roast until golden. Pro-tip: add a bit of cinnamon sugar as soon as they come out of the oven and you've got yourself a tasty little treat. Or, just leave them as they are and use them as a crunchy topper for salads, pasta, and curries.
2. Use the Seeds in Baking & Cooking
From cookies to oat bars and cakes to muffins - you can add the seeds to any of your batter mixtures of doughs to add a crunch and additional nutrients. Some of the easiest bakes to add them to include banana bread (a classic), pumpkin muffins, and breakfast oat bars. Simply take the roasted seeds and add them to your mixture – it's as easy as that.
Need a little bit of inspiration? We've scoured the web to find some of the most tasty recipes for you to try.
3. Use the Seeds as Bird Feed
Pumpkin seeds are excellent bird food. They contain high amounts of vitamins and nutrients, making a significant nutritional contribution to the diet of birds. So, if you're not interested in reaping the benefits of pumpkin seeds, your local wildlife will certainly thank you for it.
We're no expert when it comes to feeding wildlife, so we spoke to a local wildlife expert to find out more! They advised that you should simply scrap out the seeds and add them as they are to your bird feeder, the birds and wildlife with do the rest. If you don't have a bird feeder, you can just add them to a dish or tray and put it out in your garden then watch the wildlife from your window.
The Guts or Brains
The fibrous stringy parts inside the pumpkin
1. Freeze and Use to Create Veg Stock
Batch cooking veg stock is super easy! Freeze any leftovers from vegetable preparation along with the guts from your pumpkin. When you have enough, take them out of your freezer, add them to a pot with water, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Once it's been simmering for 30 minutes, strain the liquid and that's it - you've got your own vegetable stock!
We tend to use the basic basic formula of 2 cups of vegetable scraps to make 1 quart of stock. The stock will keep in your refrigerator for at least 5 days, or 3 months in the freezer. If you're freezing your stock, it's best to freeze in batches so you can just grab the amount you need at any time.
2. Use in Baking
You can add the guts to any of the above recipes to add additional texture. If you're adding guts to any recipes, we'd recommend reducing the amount of liquid slightly to accommodate the additional liquid in the guts. Alternatively, substitute the guts in place of zucchini or carrots in any existing recipes.
3. Blend into Soups & Sauces
One of the easiest ways to add additional nutrients to your dishes is to include more nutrient-dense ingredients. Pumpkins are highly nutrient-dense and the guts are no different. Add them into any soups or sauces that you will blend to add a boost of vitamins and minerals.
4. Make Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider
Mulled apple cider is one of our favourite fall drinks – it's so warming and cozy! Boil your guts to make a thin broth. Strain it, then mix it with apple cider and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg – and there you have it, easy pumpkin-spiced apple cider.
The main flesh of the pumpkin that you usually cook with. You won't have much waste here as it'll only be from the cut outs, but you can still use it!
1. Freeze and Use to Create Veg Stock
Much like with the guts, you can freeze the chunks of pumpkin and use to create a vegetable stock. No need to peel, you can boil it up with the skin on for added nutrients.
2. Blend into Soups & Sauces
Again, like the guts, you can use the extra bits of pumpkin to add nutrients to soups and sauces. Just add them in as you would your other veg and cook until soft.
3. Roast as a Snack
While you might not have enough cut-outs to create a full meal, you should have enough to roast as a snack or side dish. Simply cut the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with oil and roast until crispy. No need to peel, you can eat the skin of most pumpkins.
Now comes the tricky part, what do you do with your carved pumpkin after Halloween? It's no longer safe for human consumption, but there are other ways you can sustainably dispose of your carved pumpkins.
If you're anything like us, you already have a compost bin - your pumpkins can be added to that. Pumpkin flesh is really tender and will break down easily. However, the skin is a thick and hardy and will take weeks to decompose if left whole. Instead of throwing a whole pumpkin straight into your compost bin we'd recommend, chopping or smashing it into smaller pieces to speed up decomposition.
2. Donate to a Local Farm
Many local farms will take used pumpkins off your hands to feed to their animals. Check with your local farmers to see if this is something they do and drop them round after Halloween.
3. Feed to the Birds/Wildlife
We know the birds have already had a feast on your seeds and guts, give them another treat with the whole pumpkin. Chop the pumpkin in half and pop it in your garden for them to feast on. Much like the seeds, the flesh and skin of the pumpkin has high nutritional value that your local wildlife will benefit from.
4. Check if Your City has a Pumpkin Parade
Check to see if your city has a Pumpkin Parade. Some towns and cities have a Pumpkin Parade where people head to their local park after the sun sets on November 1 with their pumpkins and a candle to show them off one more time, creating a magical gallery of jack-o-lanterns. After the festivities are complete, pumpkins are put in city-provided compost bins for composting.
If you can't make use of your carved pumpkins by any of the above methods, please make sure you are disposing of it into your organic trash.
Other ways to celebrate sustainably:
1. DIY Your Costume
DIYing your costume can be super fun and if you have children it's a great activity to get them involved in too! Plus, it'll mean you don't have the fear (I warned you about the puns) of turning up in the exact same costume as someone else.
Chances are you have something in your closet right now that you can use to DIY a costume. Get creative or just stick to the basics, don a sheet with eye holes and go as a ghost. There are some great ideas here for you to try out.
2. Thrift Your Costume
Don't have anything in your closet or not feeling very creative? We hear you! It can be difficult to use what you already have. The good, and the bad news is that many people donate their Halloween costumes after only one use, so your local thrift is likely to have quite a few options for you.
If you can't find anything in the costume section, head to the normal clothes and try one of the above linked ideas.
3. Swap Costumes With a Friend
Got a costume from last year laying around? I'm sure your friends and family do too. If you want to mix it up and try a different costume, swap with one of your friends. They get to use your costume, and you get to use theirs. No waste and it's free - win, win!
I think decorating is one of the most fun aspects of Halloween, but that equally comes with it's downfalls. Many decorations are made from plastic and often end up thrown in the trash after Halloween is over. Instead of the tacky fake spiders, cobwebs, and pumpkins why not opt for one of these options instead.
1. Use What You Already Have
The Sorry Girls recently posted a YouTube video decorating their office for Halloween and it was inspired! They used things they already had laying around such as candle sticks, picture frames, and disco balls. Take a look around your house for items you already own that can be used to spook the place up.
2. DIY Decorations
If you've ever had any delivery of any kind, I'm sure you've got some spare cardboard boxes laying around your house. You can use these to create spooky cut outs, we're thinking ghosts, spiders, witches hats - the options are endless!
3. Decorate with Organic Materials
Pumpkins are the definition of Halloween, right? Get your gourd on and pop a few around the house to give a spooky feel in a grown up, classy way. Once Halloween is over, you can use them to make some delicious meals too!
We hope some of these tips can help you have a green Halloween this year. Happy Halloween!