Earth Day facts and trivia

Apr 1, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. ET

Think you know everything there is to know about the day that honors Mother Earth?

Couple recycling

Be an Earth Day


This Earth Day, quiz your environmental knowledge with these fun facts about recycling and going green.

Are you an environmentalist?

  • According to a 2012 Harris poll, only 27 percent of Americans "feel a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment," even though  68 percent recycle regularly and 81percent turn off their lights when they leave the room.
  • A quick and easy way to become more environmentally friendly is by switching from plastic water bottles to a refillable water bottle with a filter. Currently people in the U.S. toss 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour. That's right — every hour.
  • In an effort to protect our natural resources, the first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872. It is estimated that 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska that day. Arbor Day is now generally celebrated on the last Friday of April.
  • In 2010, on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it is estimated that more than 1 billion people in more than 180 countries across the globe celebrated Mother Earth in some way — from planting trees to attending events or just spreading the word via social media networks — making it the largest secular civic event worldwide.

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Recycling rewards

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that close to 900,000,000 trees are cut down every year to provide the raw materials for American paper and pulp mills. It takes an entire 15-year-old tree to produce 700 paper grocery bags.
  • On the bright side, paper recycling increased by more than 89 percent from 1990 to 2010.
  • Reducing the amount of trees being used for paper production also means less greenhouse gases. The American Forests site states that a tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every year and can sequester one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
  • According to Keep America Beautiful, recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes.

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Waste not, want not

  • The EPA notes that on an annual basis, we generate around 14 million tons of food waste which equates to 106 pounds of food waste per person.
  • It seems that during the holidays the amount Americans waste increases — an extra million tons of waste is generated every week from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
  • Parents of little ones, you can do your part to cut down on waste by choosing cloth diapers — in theory, a disposable diaper will take 500 years to decompose.
  • Another simple way to cut back on waste is to check your faucets — the EPA reports that 10 percent of homes in America have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water or more every day.
  • Living a high-tech lifestyle is convenient, but it's also extremely wasteful. Tossing your old electronic equipment (known as e-scrap or e-waste) is the fastest growing type of waste in the country.

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Gas guzzlers

  • It's no secret that our cars are major contributors to pollution. But did you know that burning just one gallon of gas in your car creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide?
  • Consider ditching the keys and riding your bike on occasion instead. Biking saves you money and spares the earth from toxic emissions from gas guzzlers. Calculate just how much biking to work can save you — and the world. (Bonus: You can even find out how many calories you'll burn by biking instead of driving).

Did you know:

Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Life has been present for 2.72 billion years.

How do you celebrate Earth Day?

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