Ecosia, quite simply, is a search engine that plants trees while you search the web.
They use the profit made from the searches to plant trees all over the world – particularly in Haiti, Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, Spain, Kenya, Ghana and more.
Whoa, what? Seriously?
I know, right? I’ve considered myself a pretty savvy person in the sustainability world and I am a digital native (aka a Millennial/Echo Boomer). But Ecosia has only really started gaining traction and we want to help spread the word!
Ecosia was started in 2009 in Berlin, Germany after the founder saw the problems of deforestation around the globe.
They then became Germany’s first B Corporation in 2014. (Plaine Products is proud to have been a B Corp since January, 2018.) To date, Ecosia reached a milestone of planting 86 million trees and built its own solar energy plant to power every single search.
Is Ecosia a good search engine?
- don’t create personal profiles based on users and they anonymize all searches within one week
- don’t sell data to advertisers
- encrypt all searches
- don’t use external tracking tools
- enable some tracking, but it’s very simple to turn off and select “Do Not Track” in the settings
You can read more on their privacy page. They also publish monthly financial reports and tree-planting receipts to show exactly how much money is made from searches and how much of the money is going towards planting trees. More importantly, owners don’t receive any dividends – all profits stay within the company to be either used as investment funds or for more tree planting.
Approximately 80% of its profits (~47% of its income) from advertising go towards tree planting. Ecosia makes money the same way that Google, Bing and other search engines make money – through search engine ads.
Does this seem too good to be true? Do some reading! Path Around the World gives a great overview of whether Ecosia is legit.
Personally, I’m happy to try something new that emphasizes privacy and transparency. I’ve definitely taken a lot of things for granted on Google when it comes to automatically getting search results on things like distances, currency conversions, time-zone changes, etc. But. Trees! Free trees!
How do I set it up?
If you’re using Google Chrome, you can download an extension from the Chrome web store.
Ecosia is a great example of a small thing we can all be doing. We just have to remember to use it!