Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are you Funkin kidding me?

I love halloween, I love autumn and I especially love carving pumpkins, it's a great memory for me. I even was a jack-o-lantern for Halloween one year (see picture to the left!)

However, I was in Joanne's Fabrics the other day, looking for some last-minute Halloween stuff for my costume, and I came across what I thought were decorative pumpkins (I.e. ones for your living room that won't attract flies after a week)... but I was wrong.

I read a little further and found out what they were. They were "Funkins" fake, plastic, carvable pumpkins. That's right, fake pumpkins. Apparently, someone thought that there was a need for a fake pumpkin that you can carve just like real pumpkins, but will last forever and not be such a mess. I went home to look up more about them and here's what I learned from their Frequently Asked Questions page.

Funkins are made of patented low–density polyurethane foam and are painted with polyurethane paint.

Oh, this sounds terrific for the environment. Instead of biodegradable material - like a real pumpkin which can be composted, fed to farm animals, left for squirrels - we have more chemical compounds that will last forever in a landfill. How bad is it to breathe this stuff when you're cutting and scraping it, I wonder?

The walls of Funkins are about one half of one inch thick (varies with size of Funkin). And Funkins are already hollow. This makes them just as easy to carve as real pumpkins (without the gutting and the mess) and very realistic looking.

Are we that oversensitive that we don't want to touch the "goo" inside pumpkins anymore?!

Never use real flames inside Funkins, this could result in fire or the release of harmful gas. There are plenty of options available for lighting Funkins and pumpkins that are safer than real flames such as the Funkins Pumpkin Light and the Funkins Battery Operated Tealight.

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Not only are they fake, they're going to poison me to death if I put a candle in it. I am not making this up - the italisized text comes direction from funkins.com. So, now, they've got you buying their lighting products, too, to put inside their toxic plastic pumpkins. More landfill refuse.

I have a lot of problems here, but even the fact that you can buy them online defeats the purpose. As a kid, every October, we would go out to the country with my family and get a pumpkin from the "pumpkin farm." It was a whole sensory experience, and I remember the leaves being crispy, the smell of the fields, the hayrides, cider, maple candies, sunset and the colors of the leaves and pumpkins, the feeling of my little boots squishing in the mud. I loved that - and it became a family event to carve them too.

In today's hectic family lives, we've already lost so many family activities. Eliminating the trip to a special "pumpkin farm" in the country, by having a sterile, plastic pumpkin come in a box in the mail (probably packed in Styrofoam) robs children of the whole experience! They don't even smell like pumpkins. They may look good to your neighbors on your porch, but it's a sad faximile of what should be an interaction with nature and even a lesson about farming, harvests and seasons.

I'm sorry but I think that Funkins are one of the worst ideas I've ever heard of. For those of you not convinced, think about this. A typical, medium sized pumpkin (real one) costs between $7-10 usually depending on weight and where you get it. The prices for a typical funkin are between $30 and $40 each. What normal family can afford that?

I just don't understand why people would want this. Sometimes, fake replacements for things have a good reason. There are fake floorings that are identical looking to rare rainforest woods, and prevent their over harvesting by providing a feasible alternative. But, there has to be a good reason first. After twenty minutes of searching I couldn't find one website dedicated to why we should stop carving pumpkins, or one reason why its "greener" not to. These replacement pumpkins aren't made of anything natural, and we're doing more harm than good here. They're not safer (obviously, between the fireballs and poison gas) nor less expensive, or more fun somehow. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. Please. I want there to be farmers growing pumpkins around by the time that I have kids, that's all I ask.

Happy Halloween.

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