If you’ve ever Googled “how to be more green,” then Ecosia might be worth searching out. Ecosia is a search engine that feeds all of its profits into sustainable projects like planting trees around the world.
So far, the company has planted more than 150 million trees through the power of internet searches. Other search engines have ambitious sustainability goals, but Ecosia was built around sustainability right from the start.
Ecosia’s website shows off the organization’s many impressive goals and achievements. It promises to “plant the right tree in the right place” by working with local communities to plant and protect native and endangered species. Tree-planting efforts can often fall short of sustainability claims when the biodiversity of an environment and the communities within it aren’t considered. Ecosia works against these pitfalls by making sure local communities can benefit from the planting projects in the long run.
It takes about 45 searches with Ecosia to plant a tree at one of its 13,000 planting sites within the 35 countries where it operates. Every single search is carbon negative, meaning it removes more carbon from the atmosphere than the computing releases. The engine also flags polluters and “planet-friendly organizations” within search results with little icons to help inform your browsing.
The search engine uses the money it makes from advertisements to fund large projects. Some other search engines also sell user data to boost profits, but Ecosia promises not to do this and remains financially transparent so users can see where the money is coming from and how it is spent. For all of its work, Ecosia has earned the title of a Certified B Corporation, which means it follows high standards of social and environmental responsibility while maintaining accountability and transparency.
Ecosia’s website touts a few large projects that are worth a mention. In Indonesia, the organization is working with local farmers to combat loss of rainforest biodiversity. Palm oil monocultures result when large swathes of rainforest land are converted to palm oil plantations. Ecosia and local partners are offering alternative income sources to farmers while conserving the rainforest.
The organization is also helping Ugandan farmers plant forest corridors to connect chimpanzee habitats in the face of deforestation. In the West African country Burkina Faso, Ecosia has partnered with Saydou Kalaga and local communities to reverse desertification. The communities prepare native seeds and use water retention techniques to reduce erosion, reinvigorate soil, and create opportunities for agroforestry in the drying region.
Ecosia is available as a browser extension and a phone app if you don’t want to search through its website.