10 years of pumpkins: five gourd ideas for behaviour change
By Alex Robinson 24th October, 2023
What would you say if someone suggested a new Halloween tradition where, as a nation, we bought 182 million meals’ worth of food, and then chucked more than half of it in the bin?
It sounds crazy, but this is what happens with pumpkins. This year we plan to buy 30 million of them in the UK, and over half won’t be eaten.
Trick or Treat?
Our annual ‘Eat Your Pumpkin’ campaign is back to upend this ghoulish tradition and get more pumpkins on plates around the country. It’s bigger and better than ever, with everything from a pumpkin pizza pop-up to recipe inspiration from chef influencers such as Emily Roz and Jacob King.
This year our focus is on inspiring people to put down the carving knives and decorate their Jack O’Lanterns instead, which preserves the fruit (yes it is technically a fruit, not a vegetable!) and makes it possible for people to eat their whole pumpkin. Best-selling kids’ author and YouTube illustration legend Rob Biddulph has created a special Eat Your Pumpkin edition of ‘Draw With Rob’ to show families how it’s done.
There’s much more besides: check out the campaign page for recipes, a pumpkin community event map and more.
A Decade of Pumpkins
Starting off as Pumpkin Rescue in Oxford way back in 2014, Eat Your Pumpkin is Hubbub’s longest-running campaign. Each year we’ve learned more about what works (and what doesn’t) and adapted as we’ve grown. But the campaign is still rooted in five key principles that we’ve had since the beginning, which allow us to deliver on our vision and purpose, and help make environmental action relevant to people’s everyday lives.
- Make it relevant: we take something familiar to a mainstream audience, and use it as a hook to raise awareness and tell stories. Halloween has become as much of a milestone in the year as Christmas and offers a perfect moment to join the dots on food waste.
- Meet people where they are: this year we’re prioritising influencer partnerships, which is the best way to reach our primary audience of under 35s. Meanwhile 100 community events across our Community Fridge Network will bring thousands of people together to learn how to cook with pumpkins and enjoy a community meal. This year’s campaign is supported through our partnership with Starbucks, and we’ve cooked up a pumpkin pizza truck which treated lunch crowds in Chiswick and Wimbledon to free slices.
- Test and learn: every year has been a little different, and staying open to change allows us to shape a campaign that’s right for the British public each year. Our activities have ranged from a cinema ad to YouTube videos, and a toolkit for running community festivals and pumpkin cooking demos in the early years. Each year we do a ‘wash up’ afterwards and decide what’s worked best to carry forward to the following year’s campaign.
- Challenge the status quo: public polling this year found out that around two million people in the UK don’t enjoy carving pumpkins, so we redefined Halloween traditions by proposing decor-eating (to decorate and eat) your pumpkin instead. Many will still carve (and ideally cook their carvings). For others, it’s a chance to try something new.
- Offer equal or better: when promoting sustainable choices, they have to be easier, cheaper, better, or at the least an equal switch. Decor-eating pumpkins still offers a creative process and something to display, it skips the stress and mess of carving and is accessible and safe for all ages. It also doubles the fun by keeping the whole thing fresh so it can be easily cooked and eaten afterwards!
Spread the gourd news
Since we began in 2014, we've seen the Eat Your Pumpkin message spread far and wide, amplified by all sorts of supportive organisations. If you'd like to help us rescue more pumpkins from the bin or squash food waste overall, get in touch.
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