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Eager to take advantage of the sunny skies, Rebecca and I went for a nice walk down the coast from St. Anne yesterday. On the way back from our 2-hour trek, we passed a couple of gentlemen heading in the opposite direction, and I greeted them with a pleasant bon jour, trying to hide just how tired my legs were as I did so. One of the men responded in kind, but the other didn’t as he was busy digging into a nice, big orange. To tell the truth, I could smell that juicy orange before we even reached them, and it smelled good! What was not so good was the fact that, after we passed them, I could see that the man had been discarding his orange peel onto the ground behind him.

Apparently that guy is not the only person who thinks that the haphazard disposal of organic waste is OK because we’ve come across orange and banana peels on some of the most remote trails, and on the peaks of several mountains. “What’s the problem,” you’re probably thinking? “It’s organic, it’ll biodegrade.

It’s not magic!

If you don’t see the problem, you must be one of the folks who think that decomposition is some sort of magical process that occurs near instantly. While I knew that wasn’t the case, and fully understood how tossing the waste on the ground was not the right thing to do, I wasn’t really sure just how long it would take. Well, Google to the rescue. Although I found a few conflicting reports, in the best case scenario, it takes weeks for a banana or orange peel to decompose. Worst case? Months or even years!

I don’t know about you but when I work hard for a couple of hours to get to some mountain peak that few people ever invest the effort to visit, I don’t want to come across a bunch of trash when I get there. I like to imagine that I’m the first to arrive there, and finding trash on site bursts my bubble.


Please take me with you!

While most intelligent people wouldn’t consider leaving a bunch of plastic or styrofoam behind, it appears that some don’t fully see the problem with discarding their orange peels, and other organic waste into the nearby bushes. To be honest, I’ve even had to stop unaware friends from making this gros faux pas. Please people… don’t do this. As the saying goes, take only pictures and leave only footprints. If you packed it in, bring it out. And while you’re at it, if you see some plastic or other trash along the way, why not pick up a few pieces to help make the next hiker’s experience even better?

But I don’t hike!

Cruisers who don’t hike need to pay attention too. While tossing that orange peel overboard in the middle of the ocean may be OK, the last thing I want to see in my anchorage is the trash from the upwind boat floating by us. And yes, orange peels do float!

In spite of how preachy this post may sound, I will admit that I have been guilty of this sin in the past, tossing apple cores into the woods instead of packing them out. After writing this, I commit to trying harder to ensure that I really do leave no trace.


  1. And here’s an idea….if we take out just one more piece of trash that is not ours, just think how that would improve the enjoyment for all over time.

  2. I despise Crap on the Ground–Folks seem to think it’s OK to toss Garbage in our front yard.. Coffee Cups/Cigarette Buts and other debris.. We live in nice neighbor hood too..

  3. That drives us crazy too! This summer we were hiking a ridiculously popular trail when we found a fresh banana peel dropped right in the middle of the trail–no attempt made to hide it in the bushes or in a ditch or anything (not that it would be better there). It was so fresh it hadn’t even started to brown. I was so mad I picked up and we upped our pace to catch up with the culprit ahead of us. Within a few minutes we caught up the man, still eating his banana. As we handed the man back his banana peel we said “I think you accidentally dropped this on the trail back there. I’m sure you didn’t mean to leave it there in plain sight, for everyone behind you to step over.” No response from the man. I’m sure it was just thrown into the bushes again, but damn it felt good to say.

  4. I wish an orange peel was the worst thing we have seen floating by while at anchorage!

  5. Litter drives me crazy. I’m forever picking it up. It’s sad to land on some beautiful island somewhere only find the mangroves look like a trash dump.

    In northern climates citrus can take 15 years to decay. Nothing is really adapted to break it down.

    • In reading up on the subject before posting this morning, I found a thread on a forum where some desert climbers cited something similar with respect to decomposition.

  6. While I would never throw out something like a plastic bottle or a paper bag, it never occurred to me that an apple core out in the woods is a thing to pack back out. I guess I will have to rethink that. I always figured the garbage in my town gets trucked hundreds of miles to Pennsylvania so I was doing everyone a favor just throwing my apple core over a bush into the woods. My parents taught us to compost all vegetable scraps in the garden and its a small step from that thought. Or at least I thought so. Never left anything on a beach but I bet the guy thought that crabs or birds would just eat the orange peel.

  7. Hi Mike,
    Interesting, what happens when you take it back to your boat ? Your post made me think of a dilema I have, what to do with my rubbish/trash when cruising. Is it fair to expect somebody else to deal with it even if the country has not got the ability to deal with it in a ecologically sustainable way ? Sal’s apple is not a problem especially in the woods, orange and banana peels are more problematic as they are slower to decompose and easily seen. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting littering, but it got me thinking.

    • Well, the apple core is a problem if it’s left on the trail, or where someone else could see it. That was really the point of the post. I agree though, trash in general is a problem, and I don’t have an easy solution for a boater who lives at anchor. I would assume that composting your organic trash would be the ideal, but I doubt there are any boaters actively involved with that.

  8. Nobody suggesting dumping it for everybody to see, but if you are taking it back in a plastic bag and then dumping that bag in a bin for landfill,then maybe that’s not the best thing for the planet. It maybe out of sight but it’s going to be around a lot longer trapped inside the bag. I am not suggesting just dumping stuff but a apple core chucked into rough ground in a woodland will be consumed in no time at all. Obviously you have to be aware of your surroundings and dumping peel on the trail is a obvious no no but at the same time dumping it in the bin is not the end of the story even if we like to think it is. I have been equally fustrated by orange peel left just where the person peeled it, but that’s what got me thinking and I am not convinced carrying it off to landfill is the solution.

    • I think you’re right, Lawrence, especially about the plastic bag! I guess the other thing I was trying to shed some light on is that the time it takes even organic things to decompose is much more than we typically think. Even an apple core doesn’t go away over night. As for plastic, that is a huge problem.

  9. Check out Precious Plastic, thinking about carrying some machines on my boat to spread the word.

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