In a society where we’re being warned that if we don’t clean our act up, we’ll ruin planet Earth and its environment, it’s no wonder that individuals want to find out how they can contribute to saving their home. One way to do just that is through using an ethical way to browse the internet: Ecosia.
Ecosia is a search engine, like Google and Yahoo, founded in 2009 and based in Berlin, providing an environmentally-friendly method of scouring the web for the answers to all of your questions. Basically, the more you search, the more trees are planted around the world. It’s that simple.
And with the Office for National Statistics reporting in 2016 that 87.9% of adults in total and 99.2% of adults aged 16-24 years-old are regular users of the internet in the UK alone, it seems like Ecosia has a perfect (and large) target audience, so it’s time to spread the word about this brilliant invention.
Currently, Ecosia has over seven million active users and has planted over 21 million trees (as of the second I’m writing this piece) and plants one every 1.7 seconds. So, by the time you’re reading this, it will be well over that number.
You can check how many trees are planted by the live count on the Ecosia website and if you decide to use the search engine yourself, you are gifted with your own personal counter informing you of the number of trees planted directly by your searches.
How Ecosia works
In order for you to be able to plant trees with Ecosia, money must play a part in this ultra-green social business. After all, in 2016, Ecosia had revenue of €1.7 million. So, how does the search engine translate clicks to seeds?
First of all, you open the search engine and type away. The results page, powered by Bing and Ecosia’s own algorithms, features around three adverts at the top before any of the related results, paid for by companies. Based on the number of clicks the adverts get, Ecosia gets more money as the company advertising gets more revenue itself from ad clicks.
Even if you’re not the kind of person who clicks on ads or has an ad blocker, you’re still contributing to the success of the search engine and tree planting. The more users Ecosia has, the more appealing and relevant it is to advertising companies and consequently, if the traffic increases on the site, so does the amount it can charge for advertising slots.
So, really, you can pretend they aren’t there and still plant trees. Ecosia really is the ethical way to browse the internet – where else does this idea materialise so successfully?
Has Ecosia actually worked in practice?
Surprisingly to all sceptics out there, Ecosia is not a fad. In fact, it has been very successful since its founder and owner Christian Kroll launched the search engine in 2009. It is CO2 neutral and participates in full financial transparency, hence why we know that 80% of the profits are given directly to the best tree-planting initiatives in the world.
From December 2009 to December 2010, Ecosia donated the majority of its profits to a WWF programme protecting the Juruena National Park in the Amazonas. It is the third-largest national park in Brazil, covering 1,958,203.56 hectares of land and home to 412 bird species, 40 of which are endemic to the Southern Amazon. Once the contribution to the project ended in 2010, Ecosia drew up financial agreements with timber companies and local communities to ensure the conservation of this special area of the planet.
Similarly, from December 2009 to August 2013, Ecosia donated to the Plant a Billion Trees programme run by the Nature Conservancy. This project aimed to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting one billion trees by 2015.
Ecosia itself is aiming to plant one billion trees by 2020 after reaching the milestone of 21 million trees in February 2018, so in terms of practicality and credibility, Ecosia scores 10/10.
How you can make Ecosia your new default browser
It’s impossible to not be convinced by Ecosia’s strong track record of planting millions of trees across Brazil, Tanzania, Peru and many more countries where deforestation is ruining the environment. Thankfully, it’s easy to make Ecosia your new default browser and you’ll be planting trees in no time.
All web browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, will have an ‘Add to [browser name]’ button when you click onto the Ecosia website. From there, the instructions are easy to follow – just remember, if you’re using Chrome, to click the ‘Keep changes’ button to confirm Ecosia as your default browser.
Now that we’ve finally found the ethical way to browse the internet, there should be a revolution in what we expect from our web browsers and search engines. Ecosia is a great thing to do, even if you don’t use it all of the time, and it contributes to helping the environment, local communities and endangered animals. The power is in your hands. All you have to do is make a few clicks and you’ve changed the way you browse for the better.
Writing and travelling are two of my passions – both of them together is my paradise. I love reading classic novels and I also live and breathe politics. Enjoy! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @lxurenwhite