What if, every time you searched for something online, you could help plant a tree somewhere? Just think of how many searches you do online every single day and how many trees that could be.
Sound mad, or devilishly simple?
In 2009 a young German called Christian Kroll came up with the idea of ECOSIA.
Long story short, Ecosia is a search engine – like Google but smaller
Google = 3.3 billion searches per day. Ecosia = 550,000 per day.
It carries ‘paid for’ advertisements and ad links.
Per paid ad clicked, Ecosia makes money.
80% of which gets invested in eco tree planting projects.
Ecosia funds help about 1 tree get planted every 30 seconds.
Since 2009, it has raised around 1.5 million dollars for rain forest protection.
You even get a little personalised tree counter, which clocks the number of trees you’ve contributed to.
What is not to love?
But as soon as a company says it’s “impeccable’, there will be a whole crowd of critics out to prove its not so squeaky clean.
And indeed, Ecosia is not perfect.
‘Bing’ – one of the big search engine corporations, powers it. Bing also makes revenue from the ad clicks, but how much isn’t clear. Ecosia, however, say they take the majority.
Also, whether or not any search engine can be carbon neutral is debatable. Even if Ecosia’s smaller servers use less energy, Bing’s will certainly be considerable. Ecosia do off set their CO2 use with ‘Pure’ – which are a credible offsetting charity, and re-invest its offsetting credits.
It also has to be said that Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and has invested over $100 million dollars in renewable energy. Is there even a need for Ecosia?
Why not? Shouldn’t there be more choice of search engines, and what causes they support? Unlike Google, Ecosia doesn’t trade on the stock market, so it’s not under pressure to produce big quarterly profits for its shareholders. In the good cause market, it has this advantage over its bigger, profit driven rivals. It has the independence to pursue its values.
Criticism has also been aimed at which charities or projects Ecosia select to support, and the fact they only support one major project at a time. Ecosia says this maximizes the impact of their donations and is better than spreading small donations across more projects.
And, if you have a play on Ecosia, you will probably love its natural happy landing page design, but you will find its no Google in terms of its usability or reliability. But then, who can be Google – the undeniable world ruler of search?
Ecosia do know this. Part of their growth and development as an infant company is to continually improve the experience for its users. And that takes cold hard cash. And, to be fair, Ecosia gives away 80% of its slice to plant trees.
Criticism is easy. And whilst companies should always be held to account for their claims, they should also be applauded for striving for good aims and causes.
Ecosia, and its CEO, Christian Kroll certainly do appear to be value rather than profit driven. In today’s business world, profit more often wins the day – and often to the cost of the environment. Kroll has said that he will always be open to profitable opportunities and partnerships, but only if they match Ecosia’s founding principles and values.
Fundamentally, Ecosia has the right ideals, and is trying as a relatively small, young corporation, to do business that benefits rather than damages the environment. There is no doubt it will have snags, and broken bits and complaints, but on the whole, who wouldn’t want to use a search engine knowing that they can help plant trees just with the click of a mouse?
We will be giving it a try for certain. And the more people who get to know about companies like Ecosia, the better. Just maybe, they will be the kind of companies we, and future generations will seek out and choose to use.
To find out more, follow the links below. Happy searching and tree planting.