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10 Earth Day facts that might surprise you

There's a theme song?

Earth Day, held each year on April 22, is a day for everyone to appreciate our planet and take better care of it. It's also a great day to get outside and appreciate the spectacular natural resources Earth provides us, like beaches, forests, waterfalls, deserts and everything in between.

This Earth Day, take the opportunity to educate those around you about the importance of taking care of our planet — even in little ways like recycling, buying reusable items and using less energy.

Related: Earth Day quizzes test your knowledge

Whether you plan to plant a tree for Earth Day or pick up plastic to recycle, there are a lot of surprising facts about this holiday that you may not know already. Here are some fascinating Earth Day facts.

Epping forest, London, UK
Epping forest, London, UKJessica Zaccaria / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. The date was chosen to appeal to college students.

The April 22 date was selected in part because it fell between colleges’ spring break and final exams, and because in 1970 when Earth Day was founded, college students generally were the most motivated to engage in environmental activism. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and grad student Denis Hayes (who went on to internationalize Earth Day and start the Earth Day Network, among other foundations) selected the date.

2. Some countries call it "International Mother Earth Day."

The General Assembly of the United Nations designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day through a resolution in 2009 — but America is one of the few countries that has not adopted the new name.

3. Earth Day has a theme song.

Yes, really! The song, "Earth Anthem," was written by Indian poet Abhay Kumar in 2013 and has since been recorded in all official UN languages.

4. Earth day went global in 1990.

About 20 years after the concept of Earth Day was created in the 1970s, the campaign began to spread internationally. The 1990 Earth Day demonstration included efforts from about 200 million people in 141 countries, according to the Earth Day Network.

Related: Earth Day activities for kids and preschoolers

5. Earth Day has inspired countries to start environmentally beneficial initiatives.

For example, on Earth Day in 2012, more than 100,000 people in China rode their bikes in order to reduce CO2 emissions and highlight the amount of pollution emitted from cars.

Mitchell Pettigrew / Getty Images

6. About a billion people participate in Earth Day.

Each year, it's estimated that about a billion people participate in Earth Day in their own ways, big and small. That makes up about 15% of the world's population. This also makes Earth Day the largest secular celebration in the world.

7. Earth Day sparked the creation of government environmental organizations.

The very first Earth Day sparked an environmental movement — and led to the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

8. Earth Day has a theme every year.

The theme for Earth Day 2021 was Restore Our Earth, which was intended to be a reminder that we should not only want to protect our planet, but also need to protect our planet. In 2022, the theme is Invest In Our Planet, which puts an emphasis on acting boldly to ensure that everyone is putting in equal action to help preserve and protect our planet.

9. The first Earth Day had a good turnout.

In 1970, during the first official Earth Day celebration, about 20 million Americans, which was about 10% of America's population at the time, participated in demonstrations or celebrations of some sort.

10. It's easy to participate in Earth Day.

People of all ages can participate in Earth Day by doing even the smallest of things, like taking out your recycling or getting outside instead of using electronics inside. We can also do our part to make a difference by attending a march, planting a tree, cleaning up trash outside or anything that helps protect and preserve our planet.