This search engine plants trees. Seriously, Ecosia is a free, web- and mobile-based search engine that plants trees every single time you look something up. It works like any other search engine, but takes no time to install, and has planted more than 31 million trees as of today! Given the current state of Earth's climate, and the rapid, exponentially increasing temperatures at the surface of Earth's atmosphere, more trees means a more prosperous planet and a healthier humankind. When I first discovered this tool, I installed it immediately. Then, I felt awe-struck and implored to share it with everybody on the web.
I personally have been using Ecosia for over a month now, and it as seamless and productive as promised. Shortly after, I reached out to a member of the Ecosia team with some questions, wanting to enrich the content I was planning to share with you.
Who I spoke with was Jacey Bingler, one of the early hires at Ecosia three years ago. She built up their communications team, and has a degree in cultural journalism with experience in publishing, e-commerce, and online journalism. Today, she is Ecosia's US Representative, (a job she absolutely loves), and with her position, she is able to say this:
Question: What exactly is Ecosia?
Jacey: Ecosia basically works like any other search engine. It is available for every desktop browser as well as on mobile - iOS and Android. It's absolutely free! We show ads next to our regular search results. Every time a user clicks on one of our ads, we earn revenue. This is how all search engines make money. The amount of money search engines earn is staggering. Google's revenue was 110 billion dollars in 2017 (Ecosia’s financial reports are available to the public at no cost. Last month, they made $769,821 USD. After insurance, taxes, and marketing, they were able to use $354,118 USD for green projects, planting more than two million trees last month alone).
Q: What distinguishes Ecosia from other search engines?
J: Unlike any other search engine, we use 100% of our profits from said ad revenue to plant trees in biodiversity hotspots all over the world. Although we only have a fraction of the number of users Google has (Ecosia has about 7 million active users), we've already been able to finance the planting of more than thirty million trees. We have a transparent business model and share our income, costs, and tree planting investments in our public business reports. We're 100% powered by renewable energy and recently built our own solar plant. We're non-profit and recently became one of the most privacy friendly search engines out there.
Q: Which particular resources and locations does Ecosia work with?
J: We work in sixteen different biodiversity hotspots all over the world; the resources and materials vary from region to region. (You can find more info here).
Q: What personally inspired the idea to start-up Ecosia?
J: Our founder Christian answers this question in this video. It’s probably most interesting for you to hear it from him!
Q: Where do you see the greatest challenge to the climate-change crisis?
J: I recently reread Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything and she makes rather clear that unless we make radical changes to the way we do business, politics, and design our everyday lives, we're pretty much doomed. I do think that individuals can have a big impact by trying to live more sustainably, by eating less meat, avoiding single-use plastic, flying less, using services like Ecosia… but unless a few radical changes are made on a political and economical level, we're not going to be anywhere close to reversing or even halting the effects of climate change.
Q: So what role do individuals play?
J: I don't necessarily like the idea of 'voting with your dollar' because it's still based on consumption, but the more people choose sustainable products, services, or even political parties, the more pressure can be put on traditional businesses and politicians who don't embrace a more altruistic approach.
Q: What do you say to somebody who does not believe in climate-change?
J: I try to break it down and use examples that are close to home for them. Droughts, floods, hurricanes - even examples like this one from one of our partners in Burkina Faso can be very impactful. If everything fails, it's hard to argue with scientific evidence the effects of which can be experienced at a personal level. Catch your first sunburn in March? You might have to get used to it.
Q: Have you been impressed by any milestone in particular that Ecosia has come to accomplish?
J: When I started working with Ecosia a little over three years ago, we'd just reached two million trees planted. Back then, it took us about eight months to reach a new million-tree milestone. Now we've grown so much that we currently plant 1.7 million trees every month. That's something I still find hard to believe, and it makes me very proud.
Q: What is your ultimate goal with Ecosia?
J: We want to restore the planet and help mitigate the effects of climate change on the largest scale possible. With only 1% of the global search market (which we're currently still far away from), we could plant one billion trees every year. This would allows us to sequester vast amounts of carbon-dioxide, empower countless indigenous communities, restore the habitat of endangered species, and prove to other businesses that parting with your profits is possible and can have a tremendously positive impact.
Q: Finally, if there is one thing that an individual can do today to protect the environment, what would that be?
J: Switch to Ecosia! It's incredibly simple, free, works just like Google or any other search engine, and it allows you to restore the environment by doing something you would be doing anyway. Just imagine: you could help plant a tree every time you looked something up on the internet!
I truly encourage you to add Ecosia to your web-browser by visiting their website here.
Thank you Jacey for your time and meaningful responses.
Furthermore, thank you Ecosia, for your admirable service!
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Sources: Ecosia.org. Ecosia. Website. Accessed 29 June 2018.
Citation: Rovira, Lia N. "This Search Engine Uses Ad Revenue To Plant Trees." SkyFeed. 2 July 2018. Web article.
Have a great Independence Day, 2018!