You wouldn't drop a plastic bottle when hiking, but orange peel is a problem too

Family eating oranges on hike
(Image credit: Getty)

We all know that plastic bottles and wrappers take years to break down outdoors, where they don't just look awful, but can pose a serious hazard to wildlife. However, you might not have realized that your seemingly harmless orange peel can hang around for years as well.

While they break down more quickly than plastics, orange peels are tough and leathery, and can take months or even years to rot down. The same is true for the unassuming banana peel; according to the Guardian, there are hundreds of banana skins strewn across Scotland's tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.

These will stick around for months, but in drier, hotter climates, fruit peels become desiccated rather than rotting away. The chart below, shared by TouronsOfYellowstone, shows how long different types of trash take to decompose.

Even wet, soft apple cores shouldn't be tossed aside. Your apple or pear may not be from the area where you're hiking or camping, and if its seeds germinate, it could lead to the growth of non-native plants that cause havoc with the local ecosystem.

As rangers from Glacier National Park explained in a Facebook post, tossing fruit debris on the ground can also cause problems for animals, which may consume things that their digestive systems can't handle, making them ill. It can also teach them that picnic sites and roadsides are a good place to find food, which increases the chances of potentially dangerous interactions with people.

Food waste looks and smells gross too, which makes things unpleasant for fellow hikers and campers. Even if it seems harmless, make sure you pack out all your garbage after your meal and leave no trace.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.