Leave no trace: National park debunks ‘myth’ that tossing banana peels, apple cores is OK

Tossing banana peels, apple cores and other “natural” foods on the ground while in nature can have lasting impacts and sometimes deadly consequences for animals, wildlife officials warned this week.

Officials with Glacier National Park in Montana shared a post Wednesday on Facebook detailing common myths related to tossing waste.

Titled “Myth Busters Banana Peel and Apple Core Edition,” officials said they commonly hear about people leaving food waste on the ground thinking it will “decompose.”

“These ‘natural’ food items will not decompose quickly,” Glacier National Park stated. “If animals don’t eat the food waste, decomposition will likely take much longer than you expect. Some fruit products can take years to decompose depending on the environment they are in.”


A squirrel is seen eating an apple left behind by a hiker in Glacier National Park. Officials advise visitors to practice the motto “leave no trace” and pack out all trash, including food scraps. (Photo credit: Glacier National Park)

Not to mention, food waste is likely to be eaten by wildlife and can encourage animals to go looking for it along roadways — putting them in danger.

“The more time they spend around roads, the higher the chance they’ll get hit by a car,” the park wrote.

The other issue is that apples, bananas, oranges and other “natural” foods aren’t native to Glacier National Park and many other wildlife areas people visit, officials said. If eaten by wildlife, it likely will not digest well since the animals aren’t used to eating those foods.

The seeds from fruit and vegetables that land on the ground can also result in non-native plant growth, the park added.

Nearly 3 million people visited Glacier National Park in 2018, located in northwestern Montana on the Canada–United States border, leaving more potential for waste in the park’s vast ecosystem.

“Last but not least, no one wants to see your food waste decomposing on their visit to a pristine national park,” officials wrote.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.