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The Search Engine that Plants Trees

Updated: Feb 19

The Search Engine that Plants Trees

By Julieta Lozano-Ramsay


Is it free?

Yes. No need to make an account either.

So how do they make money?

Through clicks on the ads that appear when you search something up. As with most other search engines, when you look something up, you receive links to the most relevant results. Above said results, there are often a couple sponsored links (labeled Ads). If they happen to be of interest to you, you'll check them out and thus Ecosia (or whatever search engine you may be using) will get ad revenue from Microsoft Advertising.

What do they use that money for?

Planting trees! They are responsible planters that focus on biodiversity (no monocultures), working with local communities so they may reap the benefits and making sure the roots ~actually~ get into the ground.

How many searches translate to one tree?

Approximately 45! A little search counter sits in the top-left corner of your browser.

Is this organization legit?

Ecosia is both a non-profit and for-profit business (you can read about it in their FAQ, see below). It’s a certified B Corporation. 80% of ad revenue goes directly to planting & conserving trees. Their blog includes monthly financial reports and updates about their different projects.

This seems too good to be true, what's the catch?

I have been using Ecosia for years and it has improved a lot, especially in terms of little delays in searching. I have never felt unusually inconvenienced, but there are two things I have flagged that I want to share:

1. The searches are powered by… Bing…PLEASE DON’T LEAVE, LET ME EXPLAIN. Yes, with Ecosia you are searching via Bing, accompanied by Ecosia’s algorithms. However, I do a lot of research, and I haven’t found there to be a huge difference. Especially because I can simply put google.ca into Ecosia if I ever want to look something up there. Don’t knock it until you try it!

2. Though your searches will not be altered to show ‘more sustainable’ results, Ecosia does have features that are on theme. For example, a little green leaf will appear next to some websites to indicate that they have been certified sustainable. These things do not change your searching experience, but they are there, so take that as you will.


Alright, alright… What about privacy? Ecosia certainly claims to protect your privacy, even claiming they aren’t collecting as much data on you as Google (for details: https://info.ecosia.org/privacy). I’m no privacy expert, but from what I’ve read they are not as staunchly protective of your privacy as, say, DuckDuckGo. They do, however, have a solid privacy policy. Using Ecosia is generally considered safe for the everyday person. If your priority is privacy, I suggest looking into it further.

Is Ecosia carbon-neutral? Not only is Ecosia carbon neutral, Ecosia is-- and hold onto your green pins-- CARBON NEGATIVE!!!! It is an organization actively decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Bing is carbon neutral. All Ecosia searches run 100% on renewable energy. They aren’t just achieving this through offsetting: It is integral to how they run their business. Guys, this is so exciting!


If revenue comes from ads, what happens if you have an ad blocker?

Ad blockers obviously keep your searches from going to trees, but you can make an exception for Ecosia! Ad blockers including AdBlock Plus, uBlock, and Ghostery can be disabled just for Ecosia, while remaining on for other sites.


How do I install it? Ecosia can be easily added as a browser extension (ecosia.org will show you how). There is also an app! If you make an account, you can sync your devices (though I can’t personally speak to this).


More questions?

https://ecosia.zendesk.com/hc/en-us. If there is anything else that concerns you, I really encourage you to check out their FAQ page. Their blog (https://blog.ecosia.org/) is a great place to learn about their project and how else you can support them. Plus, look it up for yourself! There are plenty of reviews and examinations on how well Ecosia works.


To sum it up…

Ecosia allows you to make an impact by planting trees which provide and secure legitimate employment, food, medicine, water, biodiversity, and oxygen. All you gotta do is use the internet like you would anyway!



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