Is it okay to throw away the non-edible part of the apple - the apple core / or in general fruit waste? Does it decompose on the rock (maybe with the help of animals) and temperature, or does it interfere negatively with the nature?

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    Or eat your apple vertically ;) theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/apple-cores-are-a-myth/…
    – noah
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 21:41
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    This was raised in Scotland recently regarding Ben Nevis and banana skins > bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-48989211
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 8:02
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    @noah No, apple cores aren't a myth. You can tell, because you can't get a myth stuck in your teeth, but you can get bits of apple core stuck. And, while we're at it, ignore anybody who tells you to peel bananas by pinching the end opposite the stalk. Yes, monkeys do it that way. So what? Monkeys don't eat bananas in the wild, so this is something they've learnt very recently, in zoos. We're smarter than monkeys, so we've figured out a better way. Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 9:53
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    @DavidRicherby I've read anywhere from a few months to a few years for banana skins so I imagine it depends on environmental variables. Also I find it way easier to open a banana at the base than stalk, so maybe just put some things down to personal preference.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 10:02
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    @David It’s much easier to peel most bananas from the end than from the stalk. That’s why I do it, not because chimps do it that way. And you can get non-core bits of apple stuck in your teeth just as well (the skin being especially common and annoying for me). Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


The problem with food waste at that elevation is that there is very little soil to bury things and that decomposition happens much slower at those altitudes.

Sometimes there are still marmots/pikas at that elevation who will eat left over apples and such, the problem with that is then they become dependent on humans and can even become aggressive. Aggressive marmots will chew through your backpack while aggressive pikas will bark at you.

At that elevation food waste should be packed out, at least to lower elevations where it can be buried.

  • 9
    Great answer. You might consider adding a bit about the fact that the type of fruit makes a difference because animals that will eat apples or grapes might not eat orange or banana peels. That is why all food waste bad at elevation but some food waste is worse.
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 21:11
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    The single nail theory.
    – dEmigOd
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 7:33
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    In one word: synanthrope.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 11:06
  • @gerrit Did you know that word before you started your Russian translation? :)
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 3:08
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    So what you're saying is, some pika might chew on it? Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 17:02

My viewpoint: If it is unlikely to be seen before natural processes take care of it then disposal in the wilderness isn't unreasonable. Thus, below timberline, outside Jasper National Park, walking 10 feet off the trail to bury my orange peel is reasonable.

At high elevation the decomp times are large -- years.

There are situations where disposal of anything in unwarranted. A lake in the Sierra that by reputation gets about 100,000 mountain bikers per year. Some stay overnight. Some do it as a day trip. The crap load alone is enormous, mostly being concentrated at the (unknown) latrines at the lake, and on a narrow trail right of way too and from. (I doubt many people go even 10 meters off the trail to pee, and little more than out of site to crap. So all the disposal, including my exemplar orange peel happens on a 15 km x 100m strip.

Ecologists, the old fashioned kind, talk about carrying capacity. An eco-system can deal with a certain amount of 'stuff' or a certain level of harvest without much change. There are tipping points, however where the ecology changes radically. Examples:

A creek tumbling over rocks quickly reaches saturation for dissolved oxygen. Your left over mac and cheese dumped into the stream adds an oxygen load. Bacteria or detritivores, or fish eat the food, and take oxygen from the water. Drop the dissolved O2 by 5-10% not much effect. Drop it by 50% and the trout may be in trouble. Drop it by 90% and you will get a huge change in what lives in the creek.

Carrying capacity isn't usually a line in the sand. For orange peels and apple cores I expect that most temperate softwood forests with more than 20" of precipitation per year can tolerate a peel per square meter per year with very little effect. Indeed, the skyline trail in Jasper could probably still handle people discarding their peels this way -- if they were disposed of in the right section of trail, and done so by people with full understanding of the conditions necessary for it to degrade.

But I tend to be conservative both of the quanities that can be disposed of this way, and of people's ability to make good choices.

I don't like Jasper. I don't like trails where the number of people I meet is measured on a 'per hour' rate rather than a 'per week' rate.

I don't have a need to bury my peel. I carry it with me to camp. Since I use wilderness areas, not national parks, I cook on a fire, and burn my peel.

Story time: I was on a canoe trip in the Aylmer lake region of the North west territory. This area is a hundred miles north of tree line, and has a climate much like the grass/moss to lichen transition.

We stopped at a trappers shack ruin. In the ruin was a 50 year old copy of Saturday Evening Post. The magazine was pristine. We went through it, laughing at the WWII era ads, and put it back for the next person.

You brought the apple in. Take the core out.

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    Your conclusion is correct. There is another effect working in the background: yearly snowmelt. I august, I often can see lots of tangerine peels and (ugh) toilet paper from all that skiers left somewhere above during winter (they cannot bury that, 2-3m snow over frozen soil) in a certain river bend in the valley - the peels still having the same color.
    – jvb
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 7:12
  • Orange peel? Unless it is organic, it very likely contains pesticides. Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 20:57
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    @PeterMortensen: "ogranic" food is rarely pesticide free. Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 21:33
  • What's old-fashioned about ecologists?
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 14:04

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