Ecosia, the search engine that claims to plant trees with every search, is quickly becoming a household name. Is it too good to be true, or will it change the world?
The Ecosia search engine is a quick and easy way to find pages and search the internet — just like Google and Microsoft’s Bing. Its searches and search ads actually use Bing technology paired with its own algorithms. The difference between Ecosia and other online search engines is that Ecosia prioritizes environmental health and social values. The company, founded in 2009 and based in Berlin, accomplishes this primarily by planting trees.
Preserving and planting trees is crucial in our fight against climate change. Trees produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and are essential in preventing soil erosion and keeping our air clean. Check out our article 6 Solutions to Deforestation to learn what you can do to combat tree loss.
Ecosia funds tree-planting projects in over 35 countries worldwide to help mitigate climate change, halt desert spread, restart water cycles and more. It facilitates the planting of over 500 different species of trees to restore and protect biodiversity, and has contributed to restoring over 60,000 hectares of forest. The company also focuses on creating jobs in the local communities where they plant trees, in a bid to stabilize political and economic conditions.
Ecosia donates 100% of its profits to climate action projects. Of this, a minimum of 80% goes to tree-planting projects. This focus on planting trees is for the benefit of the planet, animals and people in general.
In addition to funding tree planting, Ecosia powers its services through renewable energy. Ecosia’s solar panels provide enough energy for the company to be carbon negative. This means that they remove more CO2 from the environment than they emit.
The tree-planting search engine has other notable core values, including data privacy and radical transparency. This means they don’t sell personal data to advertisers or use their browser extension to monitor your activity. Furthermore, the company offers full reports on profits, spending, and tree-planting projects to be totally honest with their users and avoid greenwashing.
How Does the Ecosia Search Engine Work?
Ecosia employees do not actually do any tree planting themselves. Rather, the company uses the money it makes from ad revenue to fund its initiatives. It works with smaller organizations already making important environmental efforts in and around their local communities. Ecosia’s employees mostly stick to what they do best — promoting and getting people to use their tree-planting search engine — while making it possible for local environmental organizations to do good work.
The for-profit company is owned by founder Christian Kroll, Tim Schumacher, and The Purpose Foundation. The Purpose Foundation holds just a 1% veto share without any dividend rights. That means it can block the sale of the company and any move which would undermine steward-ownership, allowing Ecosia to maintain its ability to donate profits to climate action projects. The steward-ownership preserves the purpose of the company while protecting it from being bought out.
The Ecosia search engine helps plant one tree roughly every 30 seconds — adding up to about 3000 trees every day. That’s a significant number of trees.
How Do You Use It?
Anybody can use the Ecosia search engine by visiting Ecosia.org and bookmarking the site or making it your primary search engine. The website has a counter in the top-right corner to give you an idea of how many searches you’ve made and gives you the option to sync an account across devices.
You can also download the Ecosia Chrome extension. It’s quick, easy and doesn’t cost anything. Once the extension is downloaded, you can go into your Chrome settings and make Ecosia your primary search engine. That way, when you open a new tab in your browser, it will always use the Ecosia extension for your internet searches.
From there, you just use Ecosia like any other search engine. You may need a few days to get used to the new layout, but other than that navigation is straightforward. Ecosia plants one tree for every 45-50 searches you make. The extension also keeps a tally in the top-right corner.
Is Ecosia Legit?
Ecosia is a certified B Corporation. The B Corp Certification is a third party that verifies “a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.”
This is a rigorous review process that Ecosia passed with flying colors. Ecosia has been praised by the B Corporation for its transparency, carbon neutrality and efforts to achieve the “highest positive environmental impact per dollar possible.”
By 2020, Ecosia funded the planting of 100 million trees. More recently this number has skyrocketed, with the company celebrating the financing of 4,637,617 trees in July 2022 alone. According to Kroll, if everybody using Google switched to Ecosia, the company could plant 300 billion trees per year. Recent numbers certainly indicate it’s well on the way to its goal of one trillion trees.
Ecosia is certainly legit. It’s above board, does what it says and values your privacy. If you’re not using the Ecosia search engine yet, it’s time to make the change.
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