Orange peels. Banana peels. Apple cores.
The tenets of “Leave No Trace” principles would dictate that folks in the backcountry would pack those items out after they consumed said fruit.
But that’s not always what visitors do in Glacier National Park and elsewhere. Glacier reminded folks that they should pack out their peels and cores on a recent Facebook post. Not only is it littering, fruit peels attract animals and apple cores are just as tasty as a peanut butter sandwich to a bear. The Park also claimed that some peels can last years in certain terrain.
The post went viral, with more than 62,000 shares and nearly 5,000 comments.
Park staff said the myth is the fruit will decompose quickly. Au contraire, the Park said.
“These ‘natural’ food items will not decompose quickly. 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!” the post said.
But most online sources say apple cores and banana peels decompose in a few weeks to a couple of months, not years, though Glacier does have some severe alpine environments that are cold and dry and decomposition can take much longer. Orange peels in particular have been known to last a long time. Some items like glass, may not ever decompose.
The Hungry Horse New reached out to the Park’s public affairs department to see if there was a study that might better back up some of the post’s claims, but because of staff changes, the question was referred to the superintendent’s office.
The office did not immediately respond to comment.