With scary amounts of waste generated across Greater Cambridge each Halloween, residents are being urged to make the most of their pumpkins and think twice about fancy dress.
Around 47,000 pumpkins will be bought by Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire residents this season, but many will end up in black bins. Only 39% will be composted or put into food and garden waste bins.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “All types of pumpkin are edible, including those sold for carving at Halloween. Nationally, 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin go to waste each year, which is a shocking waste of food. When carving your pumpkin, keep the innards to make a tasty soup or tart. The seeds can be roasted and eaten too. If your pumpkin has been carved and left outside, remember it can go into your green bin or on your home compost heap. There’s no reason for it to end up in the scary depths of your black bin.”
Another frightening source of waste is fancy dress costumes. Most are worn only twice, with 2 in 5 only worn once. 7 million costumes were thrown in the bin in 2016.
Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, Cllr Rosy Moore, said: “No clothing, including fancy dress costumes, should be put into any wheelie bins. Textiles can’t be recycled this way, so it’s horrifying to think of all these costumes ending up in landfill. Arranging a local costume swap is a great way for everyone to get a new outfit without the waste – but even if this is not possible charity shops will be happy to receive them.”
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils, collects household waste across the area. Councillors are also encouraging residents to get creative and make a costume from items they have around their home already, reducing waste by avoiding the need to buy anything new.
Cllr Handley added: “We always advocate reducing waste first, before reusing or recycling. That usually means thinking about whether you need to buy something at all. There are lots of fun costumes you can make without any special skills like sewing – search online and get the kids involved.”
Environmental campaign charity Hubbub has instructions and videos for a variety of costumes as part of its #SewSpooky campaign. You can find out more at www.hubbub.org.uk
And when it comes to disposing the waste from all those treats, the trick – according to waste bosses – is to choose those in recyclable packaging.
Cllr Moore concluded: “Sweet wrappers aren’t generally recyclable, but there are many chocolate treats that come wrapped in aluminium foil, which is. Foil can be recycled over and over, being made into anything from drinks cans to aeroplane parts. Scrunch small pieces of foil into a ball together with larger bits to help them to get through all the sorting machinery at the recycling plant – then pop into your blue bin.”