Everytime you use the search engine Ecosia, it uses its profits to plant trees, which explicitly support biodiversity


From our friends at Atlas of the Future, a seemingly straightforward win:

This search engine plants trees!

As 6 million trees are cut down every dayEcosia wants to show that with a sustainable social business model and community engagement, it is possible to reverse the tide of deforestation.

The search engine uses 80% of its profits from search ad revenue to fund reforestation projects in the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots, helping the environment and empowering local communities at the same time.

Ecosia lets people all over the world choose to turn a daily habit, that of searching the web, into a force for good. Our tree counter acts as a simple and constant reminder to all our users that even the smallest actions and choices can have a real impact.

What is innovative about Ecosia does not lie in the development of any new products or services, but rather in that it applies a social business model to an existing market (the search market is worth $70 billion a year). It thus turns searching the internet into a means to a greater end rather than an end in itself.

With something as unrelated to the environment as a search engine, we can plant millions and hopefully soon billions of trees, without asking for a single donation from any individuals, organisations or governments. All this just from choosing to do something good with your profits for the benefit of the whole planet.

We did a little due diligence - basically, is Ecosia legit? (a reasonable question to ask in today’s environment of informational phantoms). We found this threat on Reddit, which has what seems like a thorough video explainer:

It does seem that every Ecosia search takes 1kg of carbon out of the atmosphere, by them devoting 45% of their turnover (80% of profit) to responsible (not commercial) tree-planting companies (though when you sign up to their mobile app, they tell you “on average you need around 45 searches to plant a tree”). If so, that’s actually carbon-negative.

However, Ecosia are using Microsoft’s Bing to do their search - and Microsoft are only powered by just under 50% renewable energy (compared to Google’s 100%). Pressure on Google, then, to franchise its services to non-profits the same way.

But it’s good that something as ubiquitous as search can be so directly harnessed to what seems like a well-planned, highly-conscious environmental enterprise.