With the end of 2016, a year that has notoriously been labelled a ‘dumpster fire’ (not including the small victories of sustainable and ethical living), it’s time to turn over a new leaf. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before, making us acutely aware of an array of environmental and social justice issues across the planet – so how do we do something about it without becoming overwhelmed? New Years resolutions often don’t last because of their tendency towards the dramatic or unfeasible, so instead this Easy Green Changes series is here to introduce you to smaller switches you can make on your journey to living a more ethical life in 2017. Ethical and eco-friendly living is a journey, it’s all about the micro choices we make every day, so let’s start there.
With that in mind let me introduce you to Ecosia, the ethical alternative to Google. Most of us use Google search on a daily basis; Ecosia allows you to do exactly the same thing, whilst also literally making the world a greener place through tree planting.
So what exactly is Ecosia?
Made up of a small international team in Berlin, Ecosia’s CO2-neutral web search organisation was Germany’s first B-Corp; certified against high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. At least 80% of Ecosia’s profits from ad income are donated directly to tree planting projects, currently in Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Peru, neutralising carbon emissions related to online searches and protecting tree life across the globe.
‘By planting a tree, you can fight climate change, restart water cycles, turn deserts back into fertile forests and provide nutrition, employment, education, medical assistance and political as well as economic stability. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?’
How does it work?
Ecosia utilises search technology from Bing and enhances it with its own personal algorithms. Like any other search engine ads generate Ecosia’s revenue, however a large amount of Ecosia’s profits from said revenue go directly to supporting tree planting and community programs. These programs help employ communities, restore landscapes and turn deserts and barren land back into fertile forests. Aside from less CO2 in the air, this also creates sustainable jobs, educational opportunities, healthier people and environmental security for local communities. It’s easy to ignore the ways our internet usage contributes to pollution, Ecosia lets you offset these emissions for free and empower other communities, proving that the smallest of changes can make the biggest of impacts. I’ll let Ecosia explains the process further:
‘The industry standard for search engines is estimated to be about 0.2 grams of CO2 emission per search. One grown acacia planted in Burkina Faso can take up to 50 kilograms of CO2 out of the atmosphere in a lifetime. Depending on clicks on ads and value of the search terms (some keywords like “credit” or “bank account” are more lucrative than others and may earn us up to a few dollars per click), Ecosia earns an average of 0.5 cents per search at the moment. The average cost of planting a new tree in our planting sites is 28 cents, so roughly 56 searches plant a new tree.’
If you’re like me, you can easily get through 56 searches in a day, (a figure which, let’s be honest, rose exponentially when the new Gilmore Girls series was released). Their big goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2020, and I don’t think that’s an unrealistic aim. In fact with the amount of questions I now turn to the internet for, I think that Ecosia can very easily reach 1 billion if people continue to use the service and share it far and wide. Around 2.5 million monthly users have already made the switch, helping to plant a new tree every 10 seconds, imagine how this would increase if more people got involved. Reforestation never looked so easy.
Ecosia’s Tree Planting Officer, aside from having a crazy cool job title, is a highly experienced expert in the field, ensuring Ecosia’s projects have the highest positive impact possible. They only plant trees alongside existing ecological systems, aka areas where trees once were, and the species are all native. As an incredibly transparent company, Ecosia makes all of their financial reports and records of how their projects are progression easily accessible online, you can read more on that here. It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.
How do I get involved?
You can use Ecosia on any desktop computer or laptop and on mobile (you can try their iOS and Android App).
The simple breakdown is this: you literally don’t have to do anything differently after you spend approximately 30 seconds setting this up. I simply went to the Ecosia website, clicked add to browser, and that was it. I search as I would before, but now the search goes through Ecosia instead. My favourite part is that the search bar also keeps a running count of how many trees you’ve planted with your searches; both cute and encouraging!
At this point I’m a regular Ecosia user, and I will never go back. I can’t recommend them enough, and I cannot overemphasise how easy it is to make the switch. I’m still able to find out all that essential info I’m searching for (basically all the reasons why #TeamJess is CLEARLY the way to go), but now I get to help the planet while I do it. So if you’re wanting to live a more ethical life this year, make switching to Ecosia your first easy green change. You won’t look back, but you will help the future of the Earth’s ecosystem and the people within it.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.
*Post created in collaboration with Ecosia*