How to reduce pumpkin waste

Carving pumpkins is a fantastically fun tradition, but there can sometimes be a lot of waste. Biodiversity officer Sarah Pinnell and science officer Heather Warrender discuss how you can make the most out of your Halloween pumpkin.

Getting Started

  • First, assemble everything you need: pumpkin, knife, bowl for the bits.
  • Use a marker pen and draw your design on the pumpkin.
  • Cut off the top to make a lid, then scoop out the soft pulp.
  • A simple pumpkin carving idea can be to spell out words — “Eeek!” or “Boo!” or even “BASC” are great and easy to do. You can also get several pumpkins and put one letter on each to spell a word.
  • Put tea lights inside to make a lantern (optional).

Don’t waste your pumpkins once Halloween is over - try these ideas to recycle them

Create a bird feeder


  • Small to medium sized pumpkin, up to 4-5kg
  • Garden cane
  • Twine or thin rope
  • Birdseed


  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the pulp to leave a bowl shape, if this hasn’t already been done. You can use the seeds as bird food or to grow next year’s pumpkin.
  2. Cut the cane into two pieces long enough to push through the middle of the pumpkin and out the other side, leaving a few inches sticking out each side so birds can perch on them. The sticks should be at right angles, crossing at the mid-point of the bowl.
  3. Cut the rope into two 4ft lengths. Tie the ends to opposite ends of the protruding stick ends to make hanging loops.
  4. Fill the pumpkin bowl with bird food.
  5. Hang your feeder by the loops in a suitable tree. If your pumpkin is large enough you can also cut extra holes in the bowl for smaller birds to pop in an out.
  6. Dispose of the pumpkin when it gets mouldy or rotten.

Food for animals

Before feeding to any animals make sure there is no pen, paint or candle wax on it. Horses and chickens love to eat pumpkins.

Pumpkin flesh is great for dogs, high in fibre, and low in calories. The flesh can be steamed or boiled, and then mashed before feeding. You can even roast it with skin on and scoop out flesh before feeding it to dogs with sensitive stomachs.

How about trying a pumpkin dog treat?

Pumpkin seeds don’t need to be thrown away. You can either put them out for the birds or grow next year’s pumpkin.

But, please check with your vet before feeding your dog pumpkin

Make a planter


  1. Cut off the top third of the pumpkin and scoop out the pulp, keeping the seeds to reuse.
  2. Use a knife to cut a drainage hole in the bottom – take care!
  3. Place a coffee filter or piece of cloth at the bottom over the drainage hole to stop soil leaking out.
  4. Fill the pumpkin halfway with soil and place your plants in the soil. Use one large plant or a variety of smaller plants to create a display.
  5. Make sure your soil level is two inches below the lip of the pumpkin, so it doesn’t spill out when you water.
  6. Place pumpkin planter in a spot to suit your plant selection. Remember to water from time to time.
  7. Dispose of the pumpkin when it gets mouldy.

Eat it

Grow next year’s pumpkin

Plant your pumpkin seeds and grow next year’s pumpkin. Save any seeds and dry them out carefully.

Pumpkins are best grown from seeds indoors in pots of compost mid to late April and then later sown outdoors in late May or early June in a sheltered spot. The flowers are good for pollinators too.

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