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Earth Day 2021: A by-the-numbers look at how people leave their imprint on the environment
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Earth Day 2021: A by-the-numbers look at how people leave their imprint on the environment

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Earth Day is an annual event held on April 22 to show support for the protection of the environment and our planet. Here are three ways that you can safely celebrate this important date. As part of the event, Earthday.org’s ‘Earth Day Live: Restore Our Earth’ livestream will take place on April 22 at 12PM ET. The livestream will feature climate leaders, activists and celebrities discussing environmental issues. WE ACT for Environmental Justice will hold a virtual 5K race to raise money for the organization. People who take part will be encouraged to walk or run 5K during the week of April 17-25. National Geographic will be hosting a virtual “Earth Day Eve” party on April 21. The celebration will feature performances from Willie Nelson and Yo-Yo Ma.

Getting to work

Commute times

  • Average one-way commute to work in the United States in 2019: 28 minutes.
  • States with the longest average one-way commutes to work: New York (34 minutes) and Maryland (34 minutes).
  • States with some of the shortest average one-way commutes to work: North Dakota (18 minutes) and South Dakota (18 minutes).

How people commute

  • Less than 1% (805,722) of people in the United States rode a bike to work in 2019.
  • Almost 3% (4,153,050) of people in the United States walked to work in 2019.

Heating homes

Across the 122,802,852 occupied housing units in the United States in 2019, it is estimated that...

  • Almost half (59 million) were heated by utility gas.
  • Less than 2% (2 million) were heated by wood.
  • Less than 1 percent (248,893) were heated by solar energy.

A footprint on legislation

The first Earth Day in 1970 inspired the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Today, about 1 billion people take part in Earth Day-related activities.

How US businesses are going green

279: Businesses that use wind electric power generation

1,107: Businesses that use hydroelectric power generation

63: Businesses that use geothermal electric power generation

191: Businesses that use biomass electric power generation

106: Businesses that use solar electric power generation industry

1,234: Businesses that use electric power transmission

$9.8 billion: Total revenue for electric power generation industries that use renewable energy

17: The percent of U.S. renewable electric power generation in 2018

611,000: The number of employees who work in zero-emission technology industries

Trash picks up

  • Today’s average American generates about 4.5 pounds of trash per day, compared to 2.68 pounds in 1960.
  • In 2018, 292.4 million tons of waste were generated in the U.S. About 69 million tons were recycled and 25 million tons were composted.

Sources: US Census Bureau, EarthDay.org, Environmental Protection Agency, Tribune News Service

Earth Day history

How did Earth Day start? Environmental activists coined Earth Day in response to a massive oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969.

1970: The first Earth Day mobilizes 20 million Americans to call for increased protections for our planet.

1990: Earth Day goes global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries.

2000: Earth Day leverages the power of digital media to build millions of local conversations across more than 180 countries.

2010: Earth Day Network launches A Billion Acts of Green and The Canopy Project. Earth Day 2010 engages 75,000 global partners in 192 countries.

2020: Earth Day 2020 marked 50 years with global activations.

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