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Gary Dean Anderson was 23 when he designed the now ubiquitous symbol for recycling, first introduced on Earth Day 1970. — Eli Meir Kaplan/Wonderful Machine

Going Green

The publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 ushered in an environmental movement that still resonates.

"Eighty percent of boomers view themselves as being basically 'green,' " says Matt Thornhill, founder and president of the Boomer Project in Richmond, Va., "and they are willing to pay more for environmentally responsible products."

New industries — and a new vocabulary — took root, from hybrid cars and solar panels to eco-friendly trash bags and biodegradable soap.

Recycling became a nationwide habit, thanks in part to the ubiquitous triangular logo found on recyclable products in America's homes.

The logo, introduced on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, was designed by Gary Dean Anderson, a 23-year-old student at the University of Southern California. He'd won a competition sponsored by the Container Corporation of America, which used recycled paper to make its products and wanted to encourage more recycling.

"The design was meant to suggest paper going over rollers and coming back on itself in an infinite process," recalls Anderson, who lives in Baltimore.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. estimates that annual revenue from the recycling of bottles, cans, paper, electronics and other materials was $75 billion in 2010. Today, more than 75 percent of boomers recycle regularly.

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