Turns out that switching up your search engine is one of the easiest things you can do to make an impact on the planet.
Once you've got your reuseable water bottle, coffee cup and have started eating in a more eco way, downloading Ecosia – a search engine that plants trees with its advertising profit – is another (free) way to voice your support for environmental causes.
It works as an extension to your existing browser. Once downloaded, you can click the little globe icon that appears on the right hand side of your search bar and trawl the web for cat memes using the engine.
Launched in Germany, the idea has so far resulted in the planting of close to 12 million trees, in places including Madagascar, Peru, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Morocco and Brazil. Every month, 80 per cent of profits go to reforestation projects, with all financial reports and tree planting receipts posted on their website.
Although the rainy season has ended, our Tanzanian tree-planting partner is still producing millions of saplings successfully. Thanks to your searches, these trees will restore ancient mountain slopes, which in turn will prevent erosion, rehabilitate water cycles, and make the local climate more favorable to smallholder farmers. #onetreeatatime ⠀ 📷 by The Friends of the Usambara Society
The logic is simple: last year Google made $79.4bn from ad revenue. The theory is that if 1 per cent of those searches were done on Ecosia, they should be able to plant 1.2 million trees every day – the equivalent of reforesting an area the size of 1,200 football pitches.
Founder Christian Kroll came up with the alternative after travelling through South America after graduating. "I visited reforestation projects and read a couple of books about climate change and globalisation, and the importance of planting trees" he says. "When I came home, I was convinced that we should all do more to save these forests. And so the idea of a search engine that plants trees was born in 2009."
The engine is now used in its homeland, as well as all over mainland Europe. And it's on the up here, in the UK.
As far as the individual projects go, they're catered to the specific country that they are based in. "Each of our projects helps the local communities and the environment in different ways," says Christian. "While our project in Burkina Faso halts desertification and provides local people with new economic opportunities, our Indonesian project is empowering local communities to fight back against palm oil monocultures."
What do our planting sites in Madagascar, Peru and Indonesia have in common? They are located in our planet's 35 biodiversity hotspots: places that are home to more than half of all plant, bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species. Yet those places make up less than 2% of Earth's land surface. These hotspots are in peril. Almost all of their original vegetation has been destroyed. If we don't act now, an ancient and unique array of life will be lost forever. By using Ecosia, you can act. Each tree you help us plant in one of these biodiversity hotspots has a real impact in securing global biodiversity. 💚 #Biodiversity #Trees #Reforestation #ClimateAction #Green #Sustainability #Climate #ClimateChange #Development
The ultimate aim of the site is to plant one billion trees. We say it's time to switch it up and get on board.