One man’s waste is another creature’s buffet
There was a letter on the webpage recently, asking Bob Mionske if throwingbanana peels or other organic trash on the roadsides is considered littering(see “LegallySpeaking – with Bob Mionske: Is that a banana in your jersey pocket?“).He replies that the law does in fact consider it littering, but I wouldlike to point out another good reason not to do it. Organic wasteattracts small scavengers such as insects and rodents and possums.These critters in turn attract larger predators, such as owls and hawks,and when they become road kill, crows and vultures, who are then vulnerableto cars themselves. Every time we deposit some potential food source,or even something that still smells like food on a road or near a road,we set up a situation where lots of innocent critters can get flattenedwhile trying for a free meal.Wildlife rehabilitators will tell you that being hit by cars while swoopinglow over the road after a mouse or other small animal on the shoulder isthe main cause of death and injury to birds of prey. So, we shouldlearn to take the care needed to ensure that we don’t contribute to thisslaughter. All we need to do is to either pack all trash home, or takea minute to make sure it gets into a trash can or at least far enough fromthe road that any animals drawn to it won’t be at risk of becoming squashed.Remember, there is no broom wagon following you and picking up afteryou.
Efland, North CarolinaDitto
As an ecologist I just have to put my two cents in…A big problem with people throwing biodegradable items such as applecores and bits of energy bars onto the side of the road is the potentialfor attracting animals to the roadside. Wildlife pays a large tollto roads and cars as it is; there’s no need to make it worse by turningthe shoulder into a snack bar.
Albuquerque, New MexicoEither way, it’s lazy
The biological difference between a banana peel and fast food trashis obvious, but apple cores and banana peels on the ground beneath thetrees that grew them, and on the roadside from a passing cyclist, are notthe same thing. The rationalization, ‘but it’s natural’ is not thesame thing as ‘native’; the former might be true, but is still the introductionof both litter and an unnatural organic matter to a setting it did notoriginate in; it is not, then, ‘native’ to the area and is thus litter.Not merely in the legal sense (reminding us that laws are for those peopleeither too dim to recognize the difference between right and wrong, ordetermined to do what’s easiest even if it is opposed to what is right)but in the moral and ethical sense.As for that raccoon starving until the banana peel hits her on the head:just as deer and coyotes thrive in semi-urban settings quite apart fromhumans feeding them, so do most other animals adapt well without humaninterference. One cannot find a park where feeding the animals inencouraged, since park managers long ago recognized the dangers of feedingcreatures human food, both from an acclimatization viewpoint as well asintroducing into centuries old diets matter that sometimes proves harmfulto the creature. As professionals point out: What our brief encounteror passing thought leads us to believe, and what is actually happeningafter we’ve passed by, are often two very different things.Then there’s the simple math: one person throwing garbage on a roadsideis only one thing, but 10 percent of the daily cars throwing some form of trash,organic or not, times a given number of days, explains why so many of ournation’s roadsides are so trashy. Even if they’re all banana peels,apple cores, peach pits (that’s another argument on the introduction ofnon-native species…ask around about kudzu and nutria).These arguments are thinly disguised rationalizations to a group ofpeople who view their jersey pockets (or floorboard of their cars) as toopristine to carry refuse home to the garbage. When the fact of thematter is that anyone conscientious enough to take their energy gel hometo dispose of properly, should recognize the organic leavings of theirsnack should have the same treatment. Besides, one should recognizethe difference between arguments to maintain lazy behavior, and for whatis best in a given situation.
Clay E. Ewing
Wimberley, TexasTrash talk
As a number of readers pointed out, banana peels, unlike gel packetsor bar wrappers, are biodegradable. Because of this, it’s actuallybetter to chuck them by the side of the road than toss them in the trash.Most modern landfills compact trash very tightly and thencover it with soil, anything thrown away is sealed in a fairly air- andwater-tight environment. These conditions lead to almost a completelack of biodegradation. Throwing a peel off the road where it’s exposedto the elements ensures that it will biodegrade. If you’re interested, http://www.scdhec.nethas more information on this subject.
Walla Walla, WashingtonWhat else is out there?
What banana peels? Toss a banana peel and it’ll probably landon five cigarette butts.
Charlottesville, VirginiaProbably eating more than bananas
According to VN, Jan Ulrich is currently about 11 pounds overweight.Is this nothing to worry about, or is Jan in stunningly poor form in whathe hopes will be the year of his return?My math says he will need a caloric deficit of about 300 calories perday between now and the TdF. While I know that this is easily achievablewith given the caloric consumption of competitive cyclists, won’t sucha sustained deficit diminish some training benefits over the next few months,either through premature fatigue or less rapid recovery?Also, what does it say about the wintertime discipline and trainingregime of Jan? What would VN think if Lance showed up 11 pounds overweight?
Boulder, ColoradoMmmmm… a caloric deficit of about 300 calories per day, eh? That’sabout half a slice of Sacher Tort. If Lance showed up like that, we’d blamethe folks at Krispy Kreme, but from the looks of it, the donut (or doughnut) talk was just that: Talk. Anyway, in case you’re asking, we’ll opt for the Austrian dessert and we promise not to drop any of it along the side of the road. – Editor
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