Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can I throw a Banana Peel Next to a (City?) Tree ?

  1. Nov 2, 2015 #1

    WWGD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So I was done eating a banana while in the sidewalk, and had the peel on my hand. Instead of throwing it in the trash, I thought I would break it into pieces and throw the pieces into a small , planted area surrounding a tree, both contained within a metal encasing, so that the peel would degrade, instead of accumulating in the trash. So I start throwing the pieces in , and there comes this guy who works in a building right in front of the tree and tells me I cannot do that, that it is prohibited; he claims the building paid for the metal encasing. Still, isn't this an issue of city ordinances? Is there some real basis for prohibiting this; would the peels e.g., attract flies or other unwanted insects or animals into the area? How do I find the laws dealing with this issue?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2015 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    It would seem that someone must be maintaining the planted area and thus would have to cleanup your banana peels to maintain the beauty of the landscaping so from that standpoint it sounds like private property laws would apply.
     
  4. Nov 2, 2015 #3
    They probably don't want your rotting banana peel ruining the aesthetic of the landscaping they paid for. Why does that seem unreasonable to you?
     
  5. Nov 2, 2015 #4

    WWGD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Because the tree is _not_ in their property. And it is not clear that the building has any say about the tree. What is unreasonable is that the person who came in did not quote any law; he just said he would call the police on me, without giving any grounds. Is that reasonable to you? I just want a clear and explicit case to be made for why I cannot do so, and I don't see how one has made, though of course that doe snot mean that a good case cannot be made.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  6. Nov 2, 2015 #5

    WWGD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Right, I just would expect a specific statement to that effect , as to the grounds for telling me why I cannot throw the peel there, and not just to tell me I cannot do it together with a threat to call the police. AFAIK those trees are in city property so city laws should apply. Is throwing a banana peel which biodegrades considered littering?
     
  7. Nov 2, 2015 #6
    This seems pretty self-explanatory.

    A- The person who stopped you likely assumed you were littering. Some cities do consider this littering, who's to stop someone from throwing their lunch in everyday after work? It would seem that this could lead to more material over time, leading to rodents and odor, while also decreasing the aesthetics of the surrounding shrubbery. The tree would become a pile of garbage in a matter of time. No one wants that.

    B- As mentioned a few replies ago, maintenance crews probably don't enjoy picking up rotting fruit. A lot of work goes into making sure everything looks pleasing to the eye... Even if the maintenance crews don't manage those trees, suggestion A would most likely apply.

    I wouldn't pursue looking into city code- I'm sure there are better things to do with your time. If a clause did exist, chances are it is very small and hard to find.
     
  8. Nov 2, 2015 #7

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  9. Nov 2, 2015 #8

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This boggles my mind.
     
  10. Nov 2, 2015 #9

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  11. Nov 2, 2015 #10

    WWGD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think there is a difference between a quickly biodegradable banana peel and a sandwich which may take many years to degrade so the slippery slope does not make sense here . Still, I think many are missing my point. You are considering only one factor, the esthetics. But what about the environmental cost of the peel ending up in a dumpsite when it could just degrade quickly-- in 3-4 weeks on average? And who gets to decide that the esthetics should trump the environmental cost? And I am not bothered esthetically when I see a peel; whose esthetic view should prevail?
     
  12. Nov 3, 2015 #11
    Personally, I think it's nice you thought to fertilize the tree. However, it seems you ended up doing it to a tree that some building has decided to keep "nice looking." That being the case, they can be difficult people and construe the peel as litter, and could call the cops about it. They may have no legal claim to the tree but anyone can call the cops on someone breaking a law.
     
  13. Nov 3, 2015 #12

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's not the legislative body who passed the ordinance on littering?
     
  14. Nov 3, 2015 #13
    Maybe the esthetic view of the people who care more about the tree, which could be the people in the building and not you. That tree has a history. For all you know, the tree had been suffering from abuse by paserbys, dogs, bicycles. The building people could have earlier approached the city on the subject, with the resulting solution of protection being the fence and the planted area paid for and maintained by the building. In other words, you and the building people may have the same goal in mind, but the interaction between you two unfortunately turned into a mild confrontation, with each other viewing the other as the bad guy. Is reviewing city ordinances and bylaws the solution then?
     
  15. Nov 3, 2015 #14

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, at least you have some standards. :rolleyes:
    Definitely not you. Societies have laws and people are not arbitrarily entitled to decide things like what to do with their trash. I think it is ridiculous that you think it is ok to just throw your trash wherever you feel like it.
     
  16. Nov 3, 2015 #15

    WWGD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    1) So you believe there is no difference between a banana peel which will degrade in 3-4 weeks and other foods which will not biodegrade for years? Is composting then just burying trash in your view?

    2) You seem to be willfully ignoring way too many aspects here. Is the tree city property? Does throwing a banana peel constitute littering? Doesn't that depend on the legal status of the tree and local laws/ordinances? Do you prefer a banana peel in a landfill or to have it break down? Until then, spare me your thoughtless judgement. Maybe reading and addressing my actual points may lead to a productive exchange. Until then....
     
  17. Nov 3, 2015 #16

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Just because someone doesn't agree with your inalienable right to be a litterbug does not make their position thoughtless.
     
  18. Nov 3, 2015 #17

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Decomposition rates aren't a constant, they vary on the basis of local conditions. I'm struggling to find a reputable link for average rates but I did find http://preview.jmt.org/news.asp?s=2&cat=Land&nid=JMT-N10412 [Broken] by the group responsible for wildland preservation in parts of Scotland, due to the cold weather it can take years for peels to decompose and there are up to 1,000 peels littering one of the mountains.

    Regardless there are a couple of issues here:

    1) Even if a peel decomposes quickly and is good for the soil it's best put into a recycling bin so it can be properly disposed of or used elsewhere. If everyone throws their peels on the nearest green space it would quickly become full of rotting waste that would attract insects, pests, create an awful smell and ruin the local aesthetic. Let the garden maintenance crews look after the garden.

    2) Regarding the legality of what happened there are certainly laws over littering, even for food waste. What is your local city law? The person telling you to stop probably did have good reason to do so.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  19. Nov 3, 2015 #18

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I think we've exhausted this discussion now with the consensus that its not a good idea to drop your banana peels in public spaces for ecological reasons as it is trumped by littering laws, health laws and city ordinances. I can see cases where someone drops a banana peel, others drop food then wrappers then garbage. The place stinks up, people won't visit it anymore, the rats take over and spread some variant of bubonic plague and we are back in the middle ages all because of a banana peel and someones desire to practice ecology everywhere. (a future science fiction novel...)

    My suggestion is to drop the banana peel on your own property thus achieving your goal while peacefully co-existing with the local authorities and property owners of your city. The effect would be the same without the hassle of bailing yourself out of jail, being cited by the health department, having to explain your arrest to the your employer and then having to make a living singing Arlo Guthrie songs on the corner until you're discovered by a record producer make big bucks, buy your own property and then have grounds-people shoo away folks trying to drop banana peels on your property.

    the end
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Can I throw a Banana Peel Next to a (City?) Tree ?
Loading...