Orange Peels Don’t Belong in the Forest
In preparation for my upcoming PCT thru-hike, I’ve been spending a lot of time hiking around my local parks and trails. And I have noticed two things: Seattle Parks and Recreation does an awesome job at maintaining local green space, and people suck at throwing away orange peels. It seems like every time I am just about to get completely lost in my own thoughts, zoning off as I find my rhythm and my eyes take in all the greens and browns of most Pacific Northwest trails, a flash of orange pulls me back to reality. It’s not a mysterious forest spirit or a bright friendly flower. It’s just another dang orange peel.
Don’t get me wrong, I think oranges are a great trail snack. Self-contained and easily packable, fairly sturdy and the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing. But I always pack out my peels! It seems like orange peels are everywhere, except for the garbage bins where they should be. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, I’d like to think that most hikers assume that since an orange peel is biowaste, it will decompose quickly into the forest floor. But that is just not the case. I’m all for composting, but the forest isn’t one big compost bin. Orange peels can take as long as two years to decompose. And they so clearly stand out: bright orange amid an otherwise brown forest floor. If you throw them in the woods, you are littering; you are not giving back to the earth or helping the animals find food.
You. Are. Littering.
Being conscious about my impact is a central part of thru-hiking for me. I feel so grateful that those before me have taken the time and energy to act as responsible stewards to these amazing lands so that I have the opportunity to follow their footsteps. We all need to accept responsibility for the impact we leave on the spaces we recreate in and do our part in taking care of the land. Educate yourself on the seven principles of Leave No Trace so our beautiful public lands will continue to be spaces of play, retreat, and adventure for those that come after us.
And please, just throw your damn orange peels away.
Want to Learn More?
This is what Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has to say about orange peels:
You may have heard that these items are natural and therefore OK to leave behind. However, leaving these food items can attract wildlife and bring them into close contact with humans. Ultimately, this could lead to habituation with food conditioning. We could be putting their lives at risk if these animals become aggressive when seeking food from humans. Food scraps thrown from cars onto the side of roadways may bring animals closer to vehicles where they can end up as road kill. Always pack these items out.
And if you want to learn more, check out these videos created by the Leave No Trace Center:
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.