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“Every day is Earth Day,” an anonymous source once said, referring to the fact that we should keep the fate of our fragile planet in our hearts and minds throughout the year. But on April 22, people from countries near and far will join together in a global celebration and call to action that’s said to be the largest secular holiday in the world. To help commemorate the occasion, we thought we’d turn our thoughts to the environment for this edition of UpFront. But first, let’s take a closer look at Earth Day itself.

1 The number of countries that participated in Earth Day activities its first year

175 The number of countries worldwide that now celebrate a designated Earth Day

20 MILLION The number of people who celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970

500 MILLION The number of people who celebrate Earth Day now

75% The amount of waste in the United States that is recyclable

32% The amount of waste that we actually recycle, as a country

100+ YEARS The period of time it takes for one wire hanger to be broken down in a landfill

“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise, what is there to defend?” -- Robert Redford

241,000 The number of additional jobs that would become available in the United States by 2020 if automakers were required to meet a fleetwide average of 35 mpg by 2018

$37 BILLION The estimated amount consumers would save in 2020 by this mpg requirement

CHECK OUT Honda’s new Insight, a five-door, five-passenger hybrid

70% The amount of toxic waste in landfills that’s comprised of electronic products -- even though all are recyclable for valuable metals and plastic

660,430 GALLONS The water footprint (total volume of water per person used by a country) of the United States as compared to Japan (303,798 gallons) and China (184,920 gallons)

TUNE IN TO Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau, a popular two-act play based on a conversation between Thoreau and Emerson. It will be broadcast on public TV and public radio and in movie theaters nationwide.

Earth Day Origin
Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson is widely credited as the founder of Earth Day. But activist and former Iowa plastics worker John McConnell actually introduced the idea when he started a global event called Earth Day at a 1969 UNESCO conference. That observance became known as Equinox Earth Day and is celebrated each March on the vernal equinox -- the one day each year when day and night are the same length anywhere on Earth. An offshoot of that event spearheaded by Senator Nelson the following year, involving more than 12,000 schools and hundreds of communities across the United States, is the inaugural Earth Day now observed around the world each April.