Tip Sheets

This Halloween, make your pumpkins last but not your costumes

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

With Halloween less than two weeks away, the time is now to get pumpkins and craft a creative and sustainable costume.

Stephen Reiners

Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science

Steve Reiners, professor of horticulture at Cornell University, says the wildfire smoke this summer didn’t hurt the pumpkin crop, and has suggestions for ensuring your gourds last through Halloween.

Reiners says:

It’s pumpkin season! The good news is, despite a summer of extremes, New York growers have an excellent crop in 2023. Wildfire smoke in June caused some worries that bees, so necessary for pollination, might stay near hives, reducing pumpkin numbers. But once the skies cleared the bees did their job. On top of that, we had droughty conditions in June followed by record rains later in the summer. But pumpkin growers stayed ahead of rots and disease, and we have a great crop to choose from.

“Purchasing pumpkins from a local grower is a great way to support local farms. When picking your pumpkin, choose pumpkins that are firm with no soft spots. The stem or ‘handle’ should be hard. Healthy pumpkins that are uncut can last through Thanksgiving. Once you cut them for a jack-o’-lantern, bacteria and fungi can start the rotting process. Once cut, they only last about 7 to 10 days. If you want them to be perfect for Halloween, don’t cut until a few days before. Adding a teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water and spraying the inside of the pumpkin and all cut surfaces daily will slow the rot a bit.”

Denise Green

Director of Graduate Studies in Fiber Science & Apparel Design

Denise Green, director of the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection, offers up some ways you can dress creatively for Halloween, while keeping sustainability in mind.

Green says:

"The best Halloween costume is one you make yourself. With growing interest in sustainability and reuse, the trend for creative and clever costumes that embrace innovative refashioning of existing materials is on the rise.

“Unique costumes made of recycled materials make the most dramatic impact. You can let your creativity become a conversation point. Refashion a cardboard box into a computer costume, become a robot out of tin cans, create angel wings with wire hangers and recycled paper, or simply add ears and a tail with a pink bow to an old gray hoodie that transforms yourself into Eeyore.

“Why contribute to further waste when you can turn detritus into a point of discussion for the night? Everyone loves creative effort, so why waste resources on something you’ll wear only once?”

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