By Donovan Levine
If you’ve never heard of Ecosia, it is an internet search engine exactly like Google or Bing that uses the revenue generated by ads and website traffic, measured by user searches, to plant trees in deforested areas. Founded in Berlin, Germany, in 2009, the website has promised 80 percent of all its surplus goes to different “go green” non-profits.
As someone who uses this alternative search engine as a default, I’ve been nothing short of impressed by it. The results generated are on par with Google’s and they keep track of every single search you’ve entered in the top right corner of the website, called the “Counter.”
For every 45 searches, one tree is planted. On their homepage, they keep a count of how many trees have been planted to date, which right now is sitting at 53.8 million trees altogether.
To dedicated users like myself, they send emails, videos and updates about the work they’ve done so far, showing their company’s teams taking various trips to places like Brazil, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and several other regions where deforestation has taken place. Time lapses of these regions over the course of just ten years show the impact humans have had on the environment.
Their homepage also depicts a map of every location they’ve planted trees. Their blogs share the stories of the work Ecosia has done thus far, including partnering with Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco.
Years ago, someone tried discrediting Ecosia as a hoax, but since then the company’s responded by posting their financial reports and tree receipts monthly so consumers can hold them accountable. They also promise not to sell our data to advertisers. Both of these actions demonstrate their promise to be as transparent as possible.
They also collect money from fundraisers and merchandise like most other non-profits. They sell shirts online for about €22.50, around $25, and have 20 trees planted for every shirt purchased.
Ecosia Inc. considers themselves a social business but at the same time a global community actively fighting the various problems destroying our planet’s soil and safety collectively known as climate change. Approximately seven million people use Ecosia now as their default browser, which of course falls short of the global population, seven billion.
It’s an innovative resource that’s hardly talked about at all but is of no cost for anyone. All it takes is a simple search just like using Google. It takes perfect advantage of the informational age we live in, combining conscious with commerce as the experts say, and providing perhaps the easiest way for anyone across the globe to contribute to the reforestation of our earth from home.
Without having to donate, without having to plant anything yourself and without most of what other non-profits like Greenpeace will advocate, as long as you have internet access, you can help the planet. That’s Ecosia’s promise.
In light of the 49th celebrated Earth Day coming up around the corner, it wouldn’t hurt to visit ecosia.org, download the app, set it as your default browser and go green.