PBS KIDS GO!Home

How we know so much about orange juice

"Oranges are harvested in Florida, then shipped to a plant in Kansas."

Oranges and other citrus trees can only grow in areas with warmer weather and more sunshine, like Florida, California, or Arizona. The fruit is brought to a factory where they prepare it for sale or change it into a form that can be easily transported (like bottled juice or juice concentrate). Then the fruit or juice is shipped again, to the store where it will be sold.

Watch a movie about the juice-making process, provided by the orange juice company Tropicana, here. (That's how we learned all of this!)

"If it's plastic, it'll take hundreds of thousands of YEARS for that bottle to biodegrade."

Have you ever tried to smash a plastic toy to smithereens? Probably not, but if you had, you would see it's very hard to do. Plastic is not a natural substance, but is made from a variety of chemicals that are treated to bind them together and make them very durable. Plastic bottles and other items are made to be strong and lasting while people are using them, but this means that they also continue to be strong long after people are done using them. There are many different kinds of plastic, and some kinds are biodegrade (break down into smaller, natural bits) more quickly, or are recycled more easily than others. Since plastics were only invented about 150 years ago, and no plastics have yet biodegraded, no one knows for sure how long it takes them to do this. Many scientists have made estimates based on observations of old plastics that are slowly breaking down now. Estimates range from many thousands of years to one million years!

Check out these Web sites. (That's how we learned all of this!):

"The peels compost into usable soil in about two months."

Decomposition is the process by which things break down into their smaller parts, eventually becoming soil. Orange peels are organic, natural material, so they decompose (break down into soil) quite quickly. You can speed up this process by composting, which means to use temperature, movement, and timing to help break waste down faster. Orange peels will usually take about two months to break down, but can take up to two years under the wrong conditions (no light, no movement, no heat). Food waste that is composted can become a natural fertilizer full of nutrients, which can help soil grow better plants. Compost improves soil by holding onto nitrogen and other things plants need. It also holds soil particles together so healthy soil won't wash away. In addition, compost helps soil hold water so plants can get more moisture, and it protects plant roots from diseases and damaging bugs.

Check out these Web sites. (That's how we learned all of this!):


CPB