Stop Throwing Your Banana Peels on the Trail

Yes, apple cores and banana peels are "biodegradable." But tossing them into the woods isn't just gross, it's bad for wildlife too.

“When I first started hiking, I was told that certain foods are biodegradable and OK to leave behind. For years, I’ve tossed banana peels, orange peels, and apple cores into the woods as I hike. I like fresh fruit on the trail, but no one wants to hang on to a slimy peel. Is composting in nature really so bad?” —Peel Out

Dear Peel,

Correction: All kinds of things want to hold a slimy peel—squirrels, skunks, and mice, among others. Not only is your trash unsightly, but it also has negative impacts on wildlife. All those peels attract animals and override their instinctual wariness of humans. This can lead to begging, over-crowding, and even human-animal conflicts when that cute squirrel sees your trail mix and won’t take no for an answer. It can also take up to 2 years for a banana peel to completely decompose. Sure, one scrap won’t cause the entire ecosystem to collapse, but one thing leads to another and then we’re all carrying squirrel spray.

Do the Right Thing

Next time, pack it out, just like you do with wrappers. Then donate $1 to a local habitat restoration project for every time you chucked your waste into the woods. Or better yet, join a volunteer effort. And on your next hike, get your fresh-fix with waste-free fruits like blueberries or grapes.

Got an LNT confession? Email confessions@backpacker.com.

For more information about reducing your impact, visit LNT.org.