How many times have you thrown an apple core out the window while you were driving? Tossed an orange peel off the cliff after a long hike? I know I have, and it’s okay to admit you have too. Myself I thought that doing this would give the animals a little extra snack to munch on right? Turns out doing this has a negative impact on the environment.
First, familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace Principles: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.
Why is throwing food waste onto the ground harmful to the environment?
- Throwing fruit on the ground will alter animals’ natural ability to want to hunt for food on their own. Ever hear of bears having to be killed at campgrounds because they won’t leave humans alone? This is caused by humans leaving food out and the bears becoming dependent on that food. Unfortunately, people intentionally feed the bears sometimes, which is a big no-no.
- Throwing food waste out the car could increase the animals’ risk of being hit by a car. Animals have an incredible scent which could lead them to places like roads where they normally wouldn’t go to find food.
- Leaving food scraps like apple cores in the forest could alter the natural state of the forest, encouraging growth from the seed of the apple into the forest.
- Food scraps aren’t appealing for others wanting to enjoy nature. Ever show up on a hike and see the ground littered with food scraps when you go to sit down? Nothing can ruin the experience more. This also will encourage critters like chipmunks and squirrels to be demanding of food to humans. I’ve even had them crawl onto my lap because they were so comfortable being fed by humans.
Rather than doing this, it is best practice to bring your own trash bag for your food waste when you hike, and bonus points if you compost it when you get home. If you notice another hiker doing this, it is best practice “if you see something, say something” by kindly letting them know the impact of leaving food waste in the environment. By ensuring all of us do our part when we are outside, the best environment will thrive for generations to come, and enjoy it too!