Search engines play a vital role in every student’s life. They help us find quick and easy solutions to some of the world’s hardest problems. With currently over 1 billion users worldwide, the most frequently used search engine is Google Chrome. However, this is not the most sustainable option.
Ecosia is a search engine that, like most others, generates its income from displaying ads. The key difference, however, is that they donate at least 80% of their profits to organisations that specialise in planting trees worldwide.
The search engine was founded in 2009 by the German entrepreneur Christian Kroll. Its launch coincided with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. The company is based in Berlin, however the work they do is certainly not limited to Germany or even to Europe. In fact, until December 2010, the majority of Ecosia’s ad revenue went to a program by WWF Germany that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin.
Search engines play a vital role in every student’s life
Since its launch, Ecosia have planted over 109 million trees worldwide and have just over 15 million active users. Of course, when compared to the number of people who use Google Chrome, this may seem insignificant. However, with over 9000 planting sites across 16 different countries, the impact Ecosia has had on the planet is far from small.
The company works alongside several organisations such as the Eden Reforestation Projects, Hommes et Terre, and various other groups to increase the impact of their project. In July 2020, Ecosia reached yet another milestone. They had planted over 100 million trees worldwide, resulting in over 50,000 metric tonnes of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere each month. The ad revenue generated is now equal to 1 tree every 0.8 seconds, or 108,000 per day.
Ecosia have planted over 109 million trees worldwide
Another great thing about Ecosia is that they are extremely open about where their money goes. They publish monthly reports which detail how much they have earned and which specific tree planting projects will receive funding. There is also a live counter on their website which shows how many trees have been planted thanks to people simply using their search engine.
I have been using Ecosia for over a year now and my searches alone have helped to plant over 2,000 trees! There is a little icon in the corner of the browser which shows how many trees your searches have planted. The number of trees my searches have helped to plant is astounding to me. To know that I have assisted in reforestation efforts without having to spend a penny is fantastic. As well as downloading it on its own, Ecosia is now available on Google Chrome and Firefox as a default search engine. You simply have to download the extension from the Chrome web store or the Mozilla Addon website.
Yet another advantage of using Ecosia is that they are carbon negative. This means that they remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit. The company began building its own solar plants in 2018 and since then have generated enough energy to power all Ecosia searches with 100% renewable energy. According to the Ecosia website, if the internet were a country, it would rank #3 in the world in terms of electricity consumption. Therefore, by relying solely on renewable energy sources, Ecosia has been able to completely eradicate its carbon footprint.
Just imagine how many trees could be planted if all of us were to switch to a greener alternative such as Ecosia?
On top of all this, Ecosia is extremely safe to use. All your searches are encrypted which means that no third party can access them. Also, after one week, your searches will become anonymised. This is not the case when using either Google Chrome or Bing. In the past, there have been instances where search engines will store certain data about searches, such as the device or time, even after history and cookies have been deleted. This, however, is not a problem when using Ecosia.
To use Ecosia, you can go to www.ecosia.com. As I previously mentioned, there is a Google Chrome extension that can make Ecosia your default browser so that you don’t need to type it into Google every time. Some universities in the UK have already made Ecosia their default search engine. In February 2020, the University of Leeds became the first Russell Group University to install the ‘Ecosia’ across all campus computers. I think this would be a very good initiative to introduce at Warwick since both staff and students make thousands of searches each day. Just imagine how many trees could be planted if all of us were to switch to a greener alternative such as Ecosia?