Having taken the last bite of an apple while traveling with friends down a highway, I was confronted head on with a conundrum: how do I do what’s best for the environment and what’s right for me? Staring at the apple core in the backseat, I knew all of my options intimately:

  • Eliminate it. I could eat the apple core.
  • Compost it locally. This was an option when we arrived at our destination.
  • Compost it commercially. Organics collection by the local hauler might serve an option.
  • Landfill it. I could put it in a dumpster, where it would be sent to a landfill. Not only would its nutrients be trapped indefinitely, but it would likely inefficiently produce methane, a greenhouse gas 1,000 times more potent than CO2.

Normally, I would have paused at this juncture, made a decision (likely to compost it locally), and moved on. But this moment felt loaded. First, I had recently approved Harvest’s latest social media content, which included “Apple Cores Are a Myth” and a video on eating apple cores like a boss.

More importantly, Harvest’s Facebook page had just blown up with comments on whether or not it was okay to eat apple cores. People feel passionately about this topic.

It got me thinking once again about the vectors that shape our experience.

  • Policies. I couldn’t chuck it out the window because that would be littering. But also there’s a tidal wave of food waste-related policies sweeping the nation.
  • Costs. This apple core didn’t seem like much, but fresh in my mind was the $13 billion number from the social media post. A lot of energy had gone into growing this apple – planting the tree, tilling the earth, watering, pruning, harvesting – and was I part of the problem if I did not enjoy each and every bite down to the last nub?
  • Societal Norms. One of the most powerful ways to shape behavior is to have folks try to keep up with their neighbors (and friends) habits. My partner eats his apple core (I’ve always thought that was weird.) No one in my present company ate their cores.
  • Interests. In theory, I always want to help save the planet. In reality, I still eat meat and fly places, which are pretty high up on the food chain of planet-degradation activities. So would one measly apple core make a difference?

In the end, I decided that eating the apple core was not for me; that I’d rather throw it under some shrubbery where it would break down and nourish the soil.

What do you do with your apple core?