Ecosia, The Bing-Powered Search Engine That Donates Its Revenue to the Environment
Name: Ecosia (Visit Ecosia)
Type: Search Engine
Best Website For: Search Engine that Donates Ad-Revenue
Reason it's on The Best Sites:
Ecosia is a search engine that donates 80% of its revenue to charities that support the environment. Their focus is on charities that plant trees. On their home page, you'll see a counter that represents the amount of planted trees that they have funded. Their search is powered by Bing.
Claire is a nurse. Now she’s healing forests. Watch her story.
What’s the CO2 impact of an Ecosia search?
Can a search engine offset its carbon footprint and go even further? At Ecosia, we’re not only concerned with running on clean energy; we want to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to tackle global climate change.
If the internet were a country it would rank #3 in the world in terms of electricity consumption, according to a recent Greenpeace report. Servers used to run the web need a lot of power. We believe that energy should be produced by renewable sources, and that it is the responsibility of companies to make sure their operations do not harm the planet.
That’s why in 2017, we decided to build our own solar energy plant to ensure that our servers will always be run on 100% renewable energy. The 531kWp plant is now up and running, delivering clean energy to the grid and replacing electricity derived from fossil fuels.
And that’s not all. Since we use our profits to plant trees, each search with Ecosia actually removes approximately 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. How? On average, it takes around 50 searches to finance the planting of a new tree. An average tree planted by Ecosia will remove around 50 kg of CO2 from the air during its lifetime. This means that, if Ecosia were as big as Google, we could absorb 15% of all global CO2 emissions!
Google has been carbon neutral since 2017, but it’s only by searching with Ecosia that you can actively help to mend our planet.
It’s been a year since we paired up with web browser Vivaldi – a customisable web browser based in Norway that is committed to running on clean energy.
By making Ecosia their default search engine, Vivaldi users have helped to plant an amazing 36,560 trees and counting!
Find out how these searches are helping to restore forest corridors for chimpanzees in Uganda, in this special update from our Tree-Planting Officer Pieter.
From wasteland to forest: see what your searches are doing in Uganda.
Honey. Potatoes. And 200,000 trees.
This is Takka’s story.
Ecosia is now an official search option in Firefox Germany. Wunderbar! More info here.
Plant trees? There’s an app for that.
With great delight, and after many months of hard work, we introduce our new mobile apps! You can now plant trees on the go by searching the web with your phone or tablet.
Give them a try, won’t you?
Behind the hills of Dila, in southern Ethiopia, Zebras are returning to the valley for the first time in a century. Water fills the banks of the Sofe River in the dry season. Coffee plants thrive under thriving shade trees. Children get ready for school. Ten thousand tree seedlings are growing in a nursery.
These seedlings are funded by your searches: Ecosia has partnered with Green Ethiopia, an eco-humanitarian NGO that has, for the past fifteen years, restored degraded landscapes by empowering local communities.
When we landed in Ethiopia this November, we could not have imagined what we were about to see. What we would learn. Who we would meet. What your web searches could do.
Your searches have helped to reforest the Kulba Gode valley in northern Ethiopia
In Siqu Ayo, a women’s group has decided to grow a forest in order to protect its community from desertification, soil erosion, and water scarcity. Forests, these women taught us, are political, a matter of war and peace: the lack of clean water and of fertile soil are a root cause of civil unrest – when resources are scarce, they said, people tend to fight over them.
The reforestation project has already had a tangible impact on soil quality.
In the midst of the Fasi mountain range, where Tigrayan tribes live in stone houses, we were welcomed by each and every member of the tree-planting community. The word ‘hospitality’ has not had the same meaning for us since.
On a hill near Bahir Dar, we met a group of 'landless youth’ – young farmers who haven’t inherited any land. The project we’re supporting allows them to reforest eroded, communal land, as well as use that land as a source of income.
This collective produces fruit, honey and seedlings, among many other things.
When we climbed Mount Gango, we saw that your trees, planted on the mountain slope by local farmers, have had a measurable impact on the agricultural activities in the valley below. We knew that trees have this effect – it’s one of the main reasons Ecosia supports reforestation projects – but actually walking through a lush tomato field, in such a dry part of the world, still felt astonishing.
In Safa, a village in southern Ethiopia, we met Rohama and Nebiyu. From our first handshakes we knew that we were in the presence of a powerful team: two people whose guidance of women’s collectives is transforming their region from the roots up. They were a reminder that there are people all over this planet who are brimming with potential. We were also reminded that we have a responsibility to support them, if we can, in fulfilling that potential.
Rohama (left) and Nebiyu (right)
Rohama and Nebiyu are leading a reforestation effort that aims to restore a watershed in a particularly dry, degraded area. The women who manage the tree nursery invest part of their salary into their own projects – fruit orchards, biogas production – which generate further revenue in turn. Now, when someone gets ill, or when someone’s child needs to buy a school uniform, the women’s collectives have enough money in the bank to help each other out. The watershed, meanwhile, has become a forest. The river flows year-round. The region produces almost twice as much coffee as before.
Almaz is a coffee farmer and leads one of the women’s associations that participate in the tree-planting program.
Our time in Ethiopia reassured us that the projects we support are not just ecological: they are humanitarian projects also. They showed us the connection between trees and water, between trees and agriculture, between trees and women’s rights. In Ethiopia, we realized how quickly an environment can be destroyed – and we saw that it can be healed, too.
It’s been 8 years
It’s been 8 years since Christian hugged a tree.
Since he travelled to South America and learned that our planet depends on trees. That they are key to fighting climate change and hunger, and to keeping entire ecosystems alive. But he also learned that every year 15 billion trees are cut down.
That’s when he had his lightbulb moment and decided to use the power of the internet to plant trees. He worked hard to create a tree-planting search engine, talked about it to everyone he met. Eventually he convinced Shannon (left) to believe in his dream:
Then Shannon and Christian convinced a couple of you guys to help them spread the word further. And that’s when things turned around. With your help we went from a couple of thousand users to more than six million.
From sharing office space in Hamid’s mosaic shop (left), to this spacious home of our own.
We grew from a tiny team having lunch on the street…
…to one big enough to actually delegate tasks:
It’s been 8 years since Ecosia looked like this:
And in all that time we’ve gone from zero to almost 18 million trees planted:
You’ve helped us literally grow trees in the desert…
…and already contributed to empowering thousands of people around the world to improve their livelihood through tree-planting! With time this will have a powerful effect on their health, their children’s education and, overall, on everyone having a better life in harmony with nature.
It’s been 8 years since you decided to believe in Christian’s dream with us. You’ve helped us grow a movement which, without you, wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
Thank you for making Ecosia what it is 💚
Two tourist guides planted 5 million trees in under a year. Meet our partners in Tanzania!
Here’s our tree-planting officer, sitting in a tree in Ethiopia, telling you about how your trees are doing in Madagascar, Brazil and co!
Thanks to you, we’ve planted close to 15 million trees. Let’s see if we can double this number in one year. Everyone can be a #TreeHero.
Madagascar is a treasure of biodiversity under threat by deforestation. Thanks to our partners, The Eden Reforestation Projects, and your searches, together we are reviving this vital ecosystem.
The Fruits of our Labor
The green hills that used to surround the Moroccan cities of Fez, Ifran and Oujda have turned amber. Years of intensive grazing have depleted the soil of its nutrients. Only the oldest villagers remember that their home used to be green, and cooler.
The absence of the ancient forests is so real, so striking, that it’s almost a presence.
One of our planting sites, adjacent to the Jewish community of Ouarzazate.
We travelled to Morocco two weeks ago, in search of a solution. Here’s what we’ll do: your searches will fund six new tree nurseries around Fez, Ifran and Oujda. These nurseries will yield, in a first phase, 1.3 million fruit and nut trees. Thanks to the solar-powered wells, the nurseries will be entirely self-sufficient.
This nursery in Fez will be managed, in part, by school children.
The Before of the Before-After picture. These vast grounds, generously provided by the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, are the site of one of our future nurseries.
Our to-be nursery in Ifran is located next to the Salam elementary school. The trees will be distributed to farmers as well as to other schools.
Our biggest Moroccan nursery is located on the grounds of the Al Akhawayn University.
The drip irrigation system is as water-efficient as it gets.
The fruit trees will, in time, restore the hills of Northern Morocco to their original fertility, and they will do so sustainably: fruit trees are an economically attractive alternative to goat farming, one of the main causes of the region’s ecological decline.
The farmers from Taroudant have largely transitioned to fruit tree farming.
Hussein (centre) told us that as his trees grew taller, the love between him and wife grew stronger.
A project this ambitious, and this new, needs a manager as experienced as The High Atlas Foundation. The Moroccan-American foundation’s 17-year track record leaves no doubt of its integrity and talent.
In Tadmant, we saw that no amount of rocks can stop The High Atlas Foundation from building a thriving nursery.
In the village of Taroudant, where The High Atlas Foundation launched its first project, we understood how fruit trees can help a community help itself.
At the Hasan II University, we learned how The High Atlas Foundation shares its knowledge with Morocco’s youth.
The High Atlas Foundation convenes a course on participatory management of environmental projects.
A nursery in Ourika, run entirely by women, reassured us of The High Atlas Foundation’s ability to empower marginalised groups through environmental projects. ‘Two years ago these rural women would not have dared to be photographed,’ Amina, the project’s manager, told us. ‘Being in charge of such a big nursery, and becoming economically more self-sufficient, has made them confident of their potential’.
The High Atlas Foundation’s nursery in Ourika helps women become economically self-sufficient.
One of the nurseries your searches are funding has left a particularly vivid mark on our minds. You can find it on the edge of the Ben Driss Youth Centre in Fez – a home to children who have dropped out of school, who have been rejected by their families, who have been in conflict with the Law, or who have fallen victim to violent crimes.
We would never have thought that there could be so much joy, so much hope, in such a sad place.
As well as being housed and fed, the children of the Ben Driss Centre continue their education, and are given the opportunity to learn a craft.
The nursery that The High Atlas Foundation has imagined, and that your searches have turned into reality, initiates the children into fruit tree farming. After nursing the saplings for a year, the children will donate them to local farmers. They thus integrate into a community by helping that community thrive.
Our nursery at the Ben Driss centre has been prepared for sowing.
A nursery, it turns out, can provide so much more than trees. It can turn outcasts into full-fledged community members. To even the most vulnerable, it can give a second chance.
Such successes are your successes, too. The saplings growing in our nurseries in Fez, the well that is being dug in Ourika, the apricot tree that will be planted in Ifran: they are your searches bearing fruits.
Thanks to your searches, millions of trees are being planted in Burkina Faso, Peru, Madagascar and Indonesia. From this day forward, your trees will be planted in Tanzania, too! The project we just started to support is located in one of our planet’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. Over the course of the next nine months, we will plant 3 million trees on Tanzania’s Usambara mountain range.
The Usambara mountain range of northeastern Tanzania is one of the wildest, most beautiful places we have ever seen.
Almost a third of its animal life is found nowhere else on our planet.
When we visited the mountain range this rainy season in April, most of its slopes had turned a lush, immodest green. But not all. Every few miles we saw a bare, treeless peak: some of the ancient mountain forests had been cut down. Others were covered in black tree stumps, indicating a recent fire.
Three months prior to our first visit, we received an email from Yassin Madiwa, the director of an environmental NGO called The Friends of the Usambara Society. He told us about his nonprofit’s reforestation project. At the time, this project sounded almost too good — almost too ambitious — to be true.
But when we visited the nurseries and the planting sites, we were not only reassured of the program’s trustworthiness and professionalism. We also realised that we had become part of something truly special.
Besides restoring Tanzania’s natural forest (focussing on mountain slopes in view of preventing erosion) this program has educational virtues: some of its nurseries are managed by primary and secondary schools. For a few hours per week, the pupils tend to the seedlings, learn about environmental protection, and eventually get to take the seedlings home to their farms. Watching these seedlings grow into trees, and seeing these trees benefit their families, is a lesson that will stay with them for life.
The local villages play an equally remarkable role. Not only do they determine new planting sites in and around their villages; often, they take care of the seedlings themselves.
When they need firewood for their stoves, the villagers tend to use branch-wood trees from their farms instead of venturing into the rainforest. The subsistence farmers we met understood, better than most, the true price of deforestation – a price whose currency is the temperature of the air, the regularity of the rain, and the fertility of the soil.
Villages and schools aren’t the project’s only catalysts of sustainability. The government-backed Magamba Nature Reserve, and the local eco-tourism industry, are also on board. All of these various elements fit together perfectly, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Together, they guarantee the program’s long-term success.
Before returning to Berlin after a week in the Usambara mountains, we asked Yassin if there was anything he wanted to tell you. He knew exactly what to say:
We are incredibly proud to welcome The Friends of the Usambara Society to our family of tree-planters. And we are grateful – deeply, genuinely grateful – to all Ecosia users, without whom this adventure would have been confined to daydreams. You have turned it into action.
We talked to philosopher Peter Singer about environmental action, climate change, and pleasure. Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, laureate professor at the University of Melbourne, and the author of over forty books, including Animal Liberation and The Life You Can Save. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Here’s a shortened transcript of the interview:
Some people — including people who hold powerful political offices — question the severity of climate change. What would you tell them?
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that climate change is real and that it is caused by human activities, in particular the emission of greenhouse gases. Given the seriousness of the harm climate change will do if these scientists are correct, I think you’d need to have a very, very high degree of confidence that these scientists are wrong in order to justify doing nothing about climate change. Since I don’t think you can have a very high degree of confidence that the scientists are wrong, it follows that we ought to be doing something to reduce the risk of climate change.
What about individuals? Is there something we can do about such a global problem?
You can reduce your own greenhouse gas footprint. The most effective way of doing that is cutting meat out of your diet, especially red meat. Livestock production is actually responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transport sector. Transport, of course, is another way you can reduce your greenhouse gases: by walking or riding your bike more, using public transport, and flying less.
But I think the most important thing an individual can do is to be an active citizen. To join others in trying to get governments to take this problem seriously. Because I don’t think we’re going to solve climate change by individual actions alone. We need governments to prohibit new coal power plants and phase out existing ones. We need governments to create incentives through quotas or carbon taxes to shift away from fossil fuels, and to shift away from meat. So that’s why being an active citizen, and making climate change one of your key issues, is perhaps the most important thing an individual can do.
We’ve talked about the moral responsibilities of governments and individuals. But what about businesses? Ecosia uses 80% of its surplus income to support reforestation projects. Do you think more companies should adopt a similar model?
That’s a very nice model, and I certainly hope it spreads. But consumers also need to be educated to look for such companies and to patronize those companies rather than others. You can’t really ask companies to do things that are going to make them uncompetitive in the present market economy.
In Practical Ethics, you write: ‘An environmental ethic leads us to re-assess our notion of extravagance’. What do you mean by that?
Once we realize how we are contributing to climate change, and once we realize how much we can do to help people living in extreme poverty in developing countries, the kind of spending we are doing now starts to raise questions. Is this the best thing we could be doing with our money? Very often it’s not.
Some people might take this to mean that environmental ethics encourages frugality and frowns at pleasure.
I certainly don’t think that environmental ethics frowns at pleasure. On the contrary, it encourages you to take pleasure in enjoying your environment. It might be the pleasure of hiking through the rainforest rather than of owning something that’s made out of a piece of it. I don’t think you necessarily get more pleasure from owning some furniture made from rainforest timber than you get from hiking through the forest.
There are forms of pleasure which are damaging to the planet, like jetting halfway around the world for a weekend holiday. That’s a kind of pleasure that is damaging. But environmentalism is not at all puritanical. It’s simply against damaging activities, and it encourages people to find pleasure in things that are not damaging to the planet — and often they’re the greater pleasures anyway.
When you look at a forest, what do you see? When we visited Madagascar, we saw a fractured home. We saw patches of forestland, separated by long stretches of arid soil. This mosaic of vegetation is the last remaining habitat of the lemur, of the narrow-striped mongoose, and of many other species that are found nowhere else on the planet.
After having lived on this great island for over forty million years, these species are now on the brink of extinction. Being confined to small forest patches exposes them to local incidents of fire and disease, reduces their food sources, and leads to inbreeding.
But there are solutions.
Together with Eden Reforestation Projects and the local community of tree-planters, we want to give these animals back their home. How? By planting narrow forest corridors that connect these isolated fragments of forestland.
Some of the forest patches we aim connect. Watch our drone footage of these patches.
Thanks to these corridors, animals will be able to roam from one patch of forest to another when foraging for food or searching for mates. While doing so, they will carry pollen and seeds to new areas. Thus, both fauna and flora populations will benefit from the corridors.
By choosing this planting method, we make sure that each tree you help us plant sets in motion a whole series of positive effects — so that your impact will spread outward into the future, like the ripples from a stone thrown into water.
The Brown Mouse Lemur, endemic to Madagascar (Photo by Alex Dunkel and Freddie Barber)
Some of you have asked us ‘why don’t you help people in need instead of planting trees?’ Thankfully, that’s not a choice we ever had to make. While it might not seem immediately obvious, there are actually powerful links between reforestation and supporting people in need. In fact, the World Bank estimates that forests contribute to the livelihoods of no less than 90 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty. Here are four ways how.
Reaching deep into the earth, tree roots draw up groundwater, purify it, and let it evaporate through their leaves. This moisture gathers into clouds before returning to Earth as rain. Without this primordial cycle there would be no agriculture at all.
Agriculture also depends on healthy soil, which trees protect from erosion. Trees regulate the temperature of the air and earth, and make moisture available to crops. They prevent soil salinization, shield crops from violent winds, and produce nutrients for all that grows around them. By providing a habitat for bees and other pollinating animals, they also contribute to crop fertilization.
Agroforestry plays an important role in all our planting programs. Before the implementation of our planting program in Burkina Faso, for instance, the local communities were suffering from the consequences of an increasingly arid soil. Hardly anything grew in it. But as soon as the local villagers started planting trees using the Vallerani technique, and surrounding the saplings with herbs, the soil started to soften. When we visited the project site last October, there was a further cause for celebration: it rained.
2. Forest Products
The forest provides an abundance of products to its human residents, ranging from nuts, berries, fruits, mushrooms, herbs and spices to biofuel, gums, oils, cork, peat and rubber. In Peru, where we support the Pur Projet reforestation programme, these forest products yield a higher net revenue per hectare than timber harvest would.
After these forest products are processed, their value multiplies. That is why we are currently supporting the Indonesian Gunung Saran Lester Foundation. Our shared aim is to build the zero-waste Tengkawang Nut Factory, which produces a sustainable alternative to palm oil. A second part of the project will focus on establishing the communitarian Village Hub, which produces valuable sugar syrup. Being able to put these products up for sale means that poor communities will no longer be forced to sell their land to palm oil multinationals.
3. Climate Change Adaptation
Climate change hits poor communities hardest, even though they least contribute to it. The unpredictable rain, the heatwaves and the cyclones that are the consequence of our warming planet devastate the crops and incomes of those who cannot afford any such thing to happen.
It is widely acknowledged that the planting of trees helps mitigate climate change. As they grow, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and in turn release oxygen, the common currency of all life. But trees also help farmers adapt to climate change on a more local level. Surrounding a field with trees creates a microclimate that protects the crops against irregular rainfall and temperature extremes.
This tree superpower – creating a climatic buffer zone – has clearly manifested itself on our tree-planting site in the San Martin region, Peru, an area that was heavily deforested in the 80s. Before the trees were planted, the local cocoa harvest suffered from unpredictable weather and from a lack of shade. Today, the cocoa fields are increasingly surrounded by Pino Chuncho trees, Cedro Rosado trees, as well as many other shade-givers, and the cocoa yields — many farmers’ sole source of income — have started to improve.
4. Planting Project Salary
The reforestation projects we support also reduce poverty in a very direct way: by paying locals a fair wage for their tree-planting efforts, irrespective of their gender or social status. Actively involving local communities isn’t just essential to the ethical integrity of our projects, but also to their long-term success.
Our reforestation program led by Eden Projects in Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, deliberately focuses on a region where stable jobs and reliable employers are scarce. The income local villagers receive for working on the project has helped them escape the vicious cycle of poverty by enabling them to buy land, improving their health, and helping them send their children to school.
Thus, by using Ecosia to finance the planting of trees, you don’t just help the environment. You also sow the seeds of a safer, healthier future for those who need it most.
Today marks an exciting step on our journey to reforest the planet. From now on, your searches will not only plant trees in Peru, Madagascar and Burkina Faso, but in Indonesia too. We have partnered with local communities from the foothills of Mount Saran, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Indonesia is home to over 28,000 plant species and 300,000 different animals, including Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants, rhinoceroses and orangutans. The forest provides a source of livelihood to millions of Indonesians. It is also one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Photo by Magnus Manske
But Indonesia’s forests are at stake. Since the 1970s, a wave of deforestation has swept through the country. Great tracts of forestland are routinely burned down to make space for palm oil plantations.
The aftermath of an Indonesian palm oil plantation. Photo by Wakx.
The numbers are staggering: between 1990 and 2010 alone, Indonesia lost 20.3% of its forest cover – that’s 24,113,000 hectares. In 2012, Indonesia surpassed the rate of deforestation in Brazil, becoming the fastest forest clearing nation in the world. Last year, over 2 million hectares of forestland went up in smoke. This led to freshwater shortages, the destruction of ecosystems, and severe floods.
The spread of deforestation from 2011-2014. Source: Global Forest Watch
In the face of such adversity, it’s easy to give up hope. But then there’s the Gunung Saran Lester Foundation. And there’s us, six million Ecosians, who are going to support them.
Seeing that palm oil companies will seek profits at any cost, twelve indigenous villages from the foothills of Mount Saran came together and decided to fight back.
They founded the Gunung Saran Lester Foundation and reached out to Masarang, a nature conservation NGO that has been empowering local communities with sustainable and lucrative alternatives to palm oil monocultures for over thirty years. These innovative alternatives include the zero-waste Tengkawang Factory and the communitarian Village Hub.
Thanks to the money your searches generate, the foundation will be able to replicate Masarang’s success. In fact, the villagers have already started to plant productive trees all around their villages – Rubber, Jenkol and Gaharu trees, as well as other local tree species.
These new forests will provide a steady income to those who care for them. The Tengkawang Tree and the Sugar Tree, for instance, have proven to offer long-term economic stability to other villages Masarang has worked with. This means that poor communities will no longer be forced to sell their land to palm oil companies.
Unlike the imported, highly sensitive Oil Palm, native species such as the Sugar Palm or Tengkawang Tree are well-adapted to the local conditions and don’t require pesticides or fertilizers to thrive. This is a huge improvement for the local communities and ecosystem, as chemicals used in palm oil monocultures have been causing severe damage to the water cycle for decades.
Native species don’t require existing forests to be burnt down either. On the contrary: they grow best in mixed forests, so biodiversity comes as a built-in benefit. All of the species’ goods can be tapped or harvested without the whole tree or shrub having to be cut down. So whereas a palm oil plantation is quickly abandoned after its final exploitation and destruction, mixed forests offer a great variety of products and have the ability to regenerate themselves, restoring the soil as they do so. It’s a win-win-win!
But there’s more: because the participating villages surround Mount Saran, their newly planted forests will link up, forming a great shield that makes the adjacent 25000 hectares of mountainous forestland inaccessible to destruction. Thus one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, with all its ancient beauty, will be protected. To the native orangutans, this quite literally means the world.
Multinationals who set fire to primary forests in order to make room for pesticide-coated palm oil monocultures are powerful in the region. But six million Ecosians, Masarang’s expertise, and a determined indigenous community should not be underestimated either.