It’s no secret we as humans have the single biggest impact on the environment. We burn fossil fuels for energy, we eat foods grown with harsh chemicals that take up far too much land, and we have driven thousands of species to extinction. While doing all of this, we have kept one thing constant: our obsession and dependence on our phones and computers. We, the western world, have become so encapsulated in our electronic utopia that we forget the horror going on elsewhere. Luckily, the environmental movement has become increasingly larger throughout the years, and one company may have found a way to counteract the huge divide between our inevitable growth and the harm it puts on the planet.
They call themselves Ecosia, and they’re a search engine. It’s estimated that everyday Google conducts 3.5 billion searches. Everyday! Now imagine if Google took 80% of the money they make from ads and put it towards… planting trees? That’s exactly what Ecosia is doing. When I first saw this ad on Facebook -as I’m sure many of you have- I was skeptical. First of all, how would they make money? And if they are making money, how do we know it’s actually going towards planting trees? Also, it definitely couldn’t work as well as Google, right? I quickly went over to their website (Ecosia.org) and clicked “Learn More”. Within minutes, all of my previous questions had been answered, and I quickly found myself installing it. They make money through the ads we see while using their engine.
One of the most impressive things about this company is they candidly publish their financial business reports every month, which can be easily found with a few clicks on their website. These reports describe exactly how much money the company made that month, how much was invested into planting trees, where those trees were planted, and how many trees were planted. They also report how much money their employees made and how much money they spent on advertising. Once I had installed it into Safari, I found that it worked almost identical to Google. The only major difference being I now have a tree counter in the upper right hand corner of my screen.
So far I have helped plant 93 trees, and that’s after less than a month of using it. There aren’t more ads than Google, they’re just more meaningful. The idea of us generating money simply by looking at something is an interesting one, but if it means the world can be a slightly more sustainable place, I’m okay with it. So, why trees? The simple answer is they counteract a large variety of issues, including climate change, water flow, and soil fertility. Lastly, and some would say most importantly, they benefit local economies by paying them to plant trees. The more I used it, the more I realized how impressive it is that a company is giving their money to issues they know are important, despite these issues not directly affecting them. It is rare to see companies put people and planet well over profit, and I encourage everybody to support them.
It’s easy, just go to Ecosia.org and download it into whichever web browser you use. If you don’t like it, you can always delete it, but if you do, then you may be changing the world…without actually doing anything.
Image obtained via Ecosia