By the Numbers: Earth Day

Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as a way to bring environmental issues to a national stage and infuse them with the same energy as the student-led antiwar movement. The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970, with 20 million Americans participating in what Nelson called a “national teach-in on the environment.” Today 190 countries participate in Earth Day, making it the world’s largest environmental event. Nelson once said this about it: “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor the resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators who participated from thousands of schools and local communities. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”




China is the No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States.



The number of pounds of “municipal solid waste” the average American produces daily.



The percentage of “municipal solid waste” that is recycled.



The percentage of energy consumed in the United States that comes from nonrenewable sources.



The percentage of the Earth’s water that is either salty or undrinkable.



The number of times you could circle the equator with plastic cups, forks and spoons thrown away by Americans every year.



The number of days in a year that aren’t Earth Day.



The number of years it takes for a plastic bottle to break down in a landfill.


20 million

The number of barrels of oil Americans consume daily.


3 billion

The world population at the time of the first Earth Day.


7 billion

The world population 46 years after the first Earth Day.


133 billion

The number of pounds of food wasted annually in America.


5 trillion

The estimated number of pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans.




Article Comments