|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
There are really two points here: 1)Do banana peels degrade in a reasonable amount of time? 2)Even if they do, should they be left on the trail? The answer to the first question is a resounding YES. Banana peels do degrade and like many food wastes are excellent candidates for a home compost pile, especially one that invites worms in to help with the degradation process. The answer to the second is a bit more difficult. Banana peels degrade, but it does take a few weeks or months, depending on the environment. In the interim they are unsightly for other hikers. Furthermore, and more importantly, you are adding a source of organic nutrients to the environment that wasn't originally there. You have disturbed the preexisting environment, even if only in a small way. It may not seem like much, but several such disturbances over time can ruin the natural beauty that leads people to hike in such places to begin with. For these reasons, I would have to say that you're better off taking that banana peel out with you. For more information about these issues, you might check out the web site of the organization Leave No Trace.
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