26 Oct 2020 | Student Advice

The spooky season is upon us again and that means one very important thing… it’s pumpkin carving (or Jack O’Lantern) time! Pumpkin carving is often one of people’s favourite part of the holiday – the messy task of scooping out the gloopy innards seems so appropriate! The image of a glowing, grinning pumpkin seems almost intrinsically linked to Halloween. But do you know how the tradition of pumpkin carving really started?  

The origins

The term Jack O’Lantern comes from an old Irish folktale called “Stingy Jack”. In this tale, it is said that Jack invited the devil for a drink but, being stingy, tricked the devil into paying his tab. After Jack passed away, the devil punished him by preventing him from moving onto the afterlife and cursed him to eternally wander the earth with only a single coal ember to guide him. Jack would place his coal into a hollowed out turnip and people called him ‘Jack of the Lantern’ or ‘Jack O’Lantern’. In remembrance of this tale, people still carve out vegetables in his likeness, which serve as a ‘deterrent’ to keep Jack away and light a path for good spirits instead.      

How to recycle your leftovers

Pumpkin carving is a Halloween tradition but as so many people carve pumpkins and then just dump them in their food waste this does cause quite a problem. This year, the Guardian predicts that over half of the UK’s 24million pumpkins will be destined for food waste. However, you can help to reduce this staggering figure as there are so many ways to recycle pumpkins and reduce our impact on the planet.

Tip 1: Feed the birds

Many animals love eating certain pumpkins so why not leave a little for the birds? Take some pumpkin to the park or leave bits out in a courtyard and see if they enjoy a seasonal nibble. There are also many places that would happily receive your leftovers. Many animals love pumpkins so it’s well worth checking if any zoos, animal shelters, farms or community gardens will take yours. They will probably be very grateful for the compost or potential animal snacks!

If you intend for any animal to eat the pumpkin please check that your pumpkin is suitable for consumption.

Tip 2: Create your own air freshener 

Fancy keeping the festive smell around until Christmas? Rub your favourite spice on the inside of the pumpkin and light it with a tea candle. If stored in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, pumpkins can last anywhere between two to three months. 

Tip 3: Treat yourself

The most obvious way to dispose of your pumpkin ecologically is to eat it yourself! There are so many seasonal recipes to enjoy, from creamy pumpkin soup to delicious pumpkin pie. Or, if you’re an ardent zero-waster then why not try pumpkin chips by using the skin!

Check out BBC Good Food for inspiration: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/pumpkin-recipes

Tip 4: Make it into a face mask

Pumpkins are packed with vitamins like niacin and zinc which can help clear acne, improve circulation and promote skin renewal. This is why it makes a perfect face mask to rejuvenate your tired winter skin!

  • To begin, chop half a pumpkin into chunks and then puree the chunks with a food processor or potato masher
  • When it is cool mix in two spoonfuls with two spoonfuls of brown sugar and half a teaspoon of honey
  • Rub this mixture into your face for two minutes before rinsing off for fresh and smooth skin

Please ensure that you are not allergic to any of these ingredients before attempting this process.

By Ilona Cabral



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