This Search Engine Lets You Plant Trees Just By Looking Stuff Up

Say goodbye to Google, and set your browsers to Ecosia—the search engine that plants trees.

May 18, 2017
Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees.
Caroline Marine Hebel

Eight years ago, Christian Kroll was an aimless college graduate who wanted to find away to do good in the world, but wasn’t sure how. So, he traveled—and an idea struck him. Motivated by time spent traveling Brazil and Argentina, where he learned about reforestation projects firsthand, and by Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas L. Friedman’s book on climate change, Kroll decided to harness an incredibly common human activity—searching the internet—to plant trees.

Kroll founded Ecosia in 2009 with a simple premise: the search company would use revenue generated by ads to plant 1 billion trees by 2020. Today, about 5.5 million people use Ecosia as their primary internet search engine—activity that results in a tree being planted every 3 seconds. (As of this writing, 7,986,115 trees had been planted as a result of Ecosia web searches.)

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Those trees do a whole lot of good. They pull CO2 out of the atmosphere, helping to fight global warming. They improve poor soil conditions. They generate new sources of income and food. And in many regions, they help slow desertification, and they restore regional watersheds, securing communities access to clean water. (Here are 8 more ways nature can heal you.)

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees.
Image courtesy of Ecosia

Ecosia uses Microsoft’s Bing search technology (which also, p.s, also drives Yahoo! Search) to do its searches.  Ecosia earns money when users click on ads—and it then donates 80% of its revenue (after expenses) to reforestation projects around the world, targeting regions where trees will have the biggest impact on the local environment and economy.

 

They fund tree-planting projects managed by local non-profits like Friends of the Usambra Society in Tanzania as well as global reforestation partners like WeForest which works with communities in Indonesia, Burkina Faso, and Indonesia to pick planting sites and also the most appropriate trees for each region.

Ecosia looks and feels quite a bit like Google, with one fun exception: When you run internet searches using Ecosia, a little tree-counter shows you how many trees you’ve contributed to planting. Depending on how often you click on ads, it takes about 50 searches by a single user to plant 1 tree. Best of all, even if you the sort of web user that never clicks on ads, or uses an ad blocker, by using the search engine, you still contribute to the planting of trees: the more monthly active users Ecosia has, the attractive it becomes to advertisers.

To make Ecosia your default web browser, visit Ecosia.org and follow the instructions. (Extensions are available for all major browsers, and you can also download the ap through Google Play for Android and through iTunes for iPhones.)

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