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Food & Hunger

This Halloween, Britain Will Waste Enough Pumpkins to Feed the Whole Country

Why Global Citizens Should Care
One-third of all food the world produces for human consumption gets binned, all while food poverty exists both at home and abroad. It’s an abhorrent contradiction that we can begin to overcome with simple lifestyle changes. Perhaps we could start with Halloween? Take action on global malnutrition here.

Halloween is coming — and, terrifyingly, so is food waste.

Britain is set to bin a colossal 8 million pumpkins after Oct. 31, according to a study from the #PumpkinRescue campaign, commissioned by stock brand Knorr. Just a third of consumers will cook what’s left after carving, while over half will just throw it away in some capacity.

Some 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin will get wasted over the next week — the same weight as 1,500 double decker buses. And the sheer volume of the squash plant that will go to waste would be enough to feed the whole country with pumpkin pie. 

Britain grows approximately 10 million pumpkins a year, reports the Guardian, and 95% of those will be used just for Halloween. Overall, only Christmas beats Halloween on festive money spent by consumers. 

Every year, the UK sends 15 million tonnes of food to landfill. That includes 7 million tonnes exclusively from households, costing the average British person about £300 a year. Overall, it wastes £15 billion more than the entire UK aid budget for international development.

Yet across the world, a third of all food produced for human consumption — around 1.3 billion tonnes — goes to waste, while at the same time there are 820 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat.

“It’s all too easy for people to forget that Halloween pumpkins are still food," said the aptly named Tessa Tricks, head of food programmes at environmental waste charity Hubbub. "When they are only used for carving this contributes to the £15 billion of food waste in UK homes every year.”

But this thriller may very well have a hopeful ending. Another study from Hubbub found that 52% of people buying pumpkins would love to learn more recipes for their leftovers.

While some are ornamental, the vast majority are edible — and can easily be whipped up into delicious waffles, risotto, curry, or tarts. You can even eat the seeds!