How to stay green at Halloween

Halloween looms
It's three weeks until Halloween and the shops are full of their usual crap - hoping that you'll fall victim to consuming their frightful, monstrous merchandise. Ok, ok, some of it may be well made, but the majority is cheap rubbish, designed for single use and the epitome of consumerism and the throwaway society.

Honest Guv
I'm not being a complete bah humbug. If you have children, Halloween can be especially fun and there are so many lovely, creative, entertaining things that you can do to celebrate this festival, but all this can be done without plastic!

If you can, try to avoid all the plastic gimmicks - rubbish (uncomfortable) vampire teeth which crack and are landfilled almost immediately, plastic pumpkin containers, fake this, that and the other, plus all of the other gadgets and their packaging that you just don't need.

Zillions of pumpkins are wasted at this time of year.  According to this article, pumpkin stats around Halloween, over 1 million pumpkins are purchased in the UK alone and from this, 18,000 tonnes will be wasted.  Personally I'm not the biggest fan of their taste, (although I know others who protest more), however, there is a lot of fun to be had with carving them and their insides, (entrails?) ought to be eaten too.

One year we bought a reduced pumpkin for, I kid you not, 10p.  It was enormous, (the original price had been £3.99 and it was nearly twenty years ago).  Anyway, it was a bit soggy in one corner, but this didn't matter, as we were able to plan part of the carving around this and cut it out.  Needless to say, we were left with a mountain of seeds, pith and flesh.  These were separated and the pith was composted.  The seeds were dried and roasted in the oven and the flesh became our supper.

As mentioned previously, I have never been overjoyed by the taste of pumpkin, but if you add enough chilli, garlic, herbs and coconut milk, it can be turned into a feasible enough soup.  There is a moral taste to it as well in terms of zero waste.  On that occasion, there would have been enough soup for weeks, therefore I also made up a pudding, a fairly successful 'pumpkin pudding bain-marie' so that the underside remained moist and the top went crispy.  I suspect that lashings of custard may have helped to make it as good as I remember.

Pumpkin Soup:

You can also roast pieces of pumpkin, along with cloves of garlic, shallots or chunks of onion, carrots and beetroot, potatoes or parsnips - basically, any seasonal veg.  Chuck in some sprigs of rosemary, a glug of good oil and some salt and pepper. I think this goes particularly well with some jazzed up cous cous.

With a year like we've just had, there is a glut of apples - these are really fun to apple bob.  I'm sure that you all know what this is, but here's a link Apple Bobbing in case you don't know what you've been missing.

Bats and witches
One year, we found some thin scrap black card and we traced the outlines of flying bats and witches on broomsticks and cut them out.  We threaded some elastic to each cut out and pined them to the ceiling.  With the draft from the woodburner, they moved and looked like they were flying.  It was very effective and we kept them and used them every year.

New creations
Each Halloween we used to try and come up with a new recipe and/or a small creative art project.  It may have been 'blood finger sandwiches' (beetroot and ketchup stained rolled slices of bread, plus a sprinkling of imagination), or we made up stories, poems and pictures, or a new fancy dress costume (home made of course!)

Trick or Treat
You probably won't be surprised to know that I'm not over-keen on Trick or Treating,  (terrorising and begging).  For those who would rather people didn't knock, (designed for older people who live alone or those with mobility issues), you can ask your local police station for a 'please don't knock here sticker'.

Is this a lost art? Ghost and scary stories are great at this time of year.  Ghost walks can be excellent too.  We went on one in Edinburgh where they take you into the city vaults...

The same pleas apply - have fun, but do consider our planet. Ditch the plastic, be creative and make your own props and costumes.  Please carve pumpkins, but eat their innards and enjoy the festival without buying inane junk.

In defence of pumpkins and squash
Please send me your best pumpkin/squash recipes.

With thanks to someone else who was good enough to go into a supermarket and take the scary, merchandise photos for me ;)


  1. I've read a few of your blogs now Cate and I feel that I'm drifting away from your "Green" ways of thinking and that saddens me. I've also read many of the comments in response to them and this saddened me even more. The reason I'm saddened is because your "Green" intentions and way of life are without doubt admirable, however, if I believed all you wanted was admiration from your blogs I would stop reading them.
    I believe you want to make a difference but I think what I see is indifference from those, possibly thinking like me, you had ideas they'd like to explore because like you, they care for our environment.
    Many of us know that humankind needs to change their ways because whether we like it or not we are walking the path of self destruction. In doing so there will be much collateral damage to other species and the environment in general. However, change needs to be achieved in a manner that motivates others to do so, rather than highlighting the obvious pitfalls of the lifestyle the majority seem to endorse.
    For me I hoped to learn ways to implement simple every day changes to my lifestyle, that could help move me to being greener. At the moment I always take my own shopping bags when I go shopping. I've had a water meter installed to monitor and control my personal use of water. My energy is supplied by a renewable energy company. I recycle my waste as per the guidelines of my council. Before my wife passed away I used to purchase the perfume she liked in a refillable bottle. These are the sort of ideas I hoped to read about in your blogs. Picking up on cheap plastic throwaways just seems like shooting off in a tangent. Our whole global economy currently bases itself on consumers buying what they want and not what they need but that is another tangent.
    The first green article I read about you, that captured my interest, was how often you put your waste bins out. I don't want to pioneer a greener way by doing everything for myself, however, I do want to adapt the way I live to create a greener footprint. In short blogs on simple, little green ways to change our daily lives might appeal to a wider audience and hopefully achieve many more greener footprints. And as we all know many small greener footprints adds up to a bigger greener footprint.


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