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Halloween recycling

Have a green Halloween with these five waste reduction tips

Halloween is a real-life horror story when it comes to waste. Last year, Cornwall generated 290 tonnes of extra rubbish in the week before, the week of, and the week after Halloween - up from 251 tonnes the year before. The biggest culprits were uneaten pumpkins and wear-it-once-and-throw-away supermarket costumes.

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Disposing of it all comes at a cost – to us as council tax payers and to the environment but with your help, we can lessen our Halloween waste mountain and turn it a greener shade of orange. Try these reduce, reuse or recycle tips. 

Nearly half the population of Cornwall buy pumpkins at Halloween. Last year, we took home about 225,000 of them but a frightful 70% were never eaten. That’s 157,500 pumpkins binned last year here in Cornwall alone and 180 tonnes of pumpkin flesh clogging our waste system. Most of it ended up at our Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre where it was incinerated and converted into energy; only 11% was composted.

The best solution to disposing of pumpkin flesh is to bake it in a pie and eat it and we've included a recipe at the bottom of this page.

Don’t buy Halloween paraphernalia on impulse without taking stock first. Before you even think about bringing more orange and black accessories, into the house, dig out old decorations from previous years.

Once you know what you ‘need’, stay away from the plastic tat, however tempting; commit to buying re-useable and recyclable stuff, and figure out before you buy where you’re going to store it all for reuse next year.

Single-use supermarket costumes – what’s not to love? Last November here alone in Cornwall we threw away 125 tonnes of Halloween outfits.

There’s plenty of fun fancy dress inspiration online, so have a go at making your own costumes, even if you ‘just’ improvise a ghost from a charity shop sheet. Your  child may grumble it’s not as sparkly as a shop-bought one but:

  • in the UK, 40% of costumes are only worn once, and
  • 14 million were thrown in the bin last year, contributing to the 350,000 tonnes of textiles that end up in landfill or being incinerated each year.

Getting round the supermarket with a couple of kids in tow is usually a nightmare but at this time of year it becomes an absolutely hair-raising ordeal as you try to prevent your trolley from ploughing into piles of pumpkins and try to resist the allure of the orange and black Halloween-themed aisles.

Maybe talk to your child before you enter the supermarket about the clever tricks they use to get you to buy things you don’t need and tell them you won’t be buying lots of plastic Halloween goodies, however exciting they look, because you care about their future and the environment.

Few parents like saying ‘no’ to their kids but explain you’re being tough in the interests of their future and the planet’s.

Pumpkin pie recipe


For the filling

  • 500g (1 1/4 lb) pumpkin, cooked and puréed
  • 1 (410g) tin evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 175g (6 oz) dark brown soft sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pastry

  • 350g (12 oz) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 200g (7 oz) butter
  • 125ml (4 fl oz) cold water 


Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6.

  1. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut the pumpkin into chunks. In a saucepan over medium heat, cover the pumpkin with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low,  cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool and remove the peel.
  2. Return the pumpkin to the saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Drain well and measure 500g of the mashed pumpkin. Reserve any excess pumpkin for another use.
  3. Prepare pastry by mixing together the flour and salt. Rub butter into flour, and add 1 tablespoon of cold water to the mixture at a time. Mix and repeat until the pastry is moist enough to hold together.
  4. With lightly-floured hands, shape the pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out to barely a 0.25cm  thickness. Transfer to a 20 or 23cm pie dish, gently pressing the pastry into the bottom. Cut off any excess hanging over the sides of the dish, and pinch  securely around the inner edge.
  5. In a large bowl with mixer speed on medium, beat the pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into a prepared pie dish. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.