Searching Forests: Tree Planting at your Fingertips

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

2019 was a bad year for forests. From the jungles of the Amazon in South America, through the Siberian taiga, the peat forests of Borneo, to the bushy Outback of Australia, tens of millions of hectares of forests burned. Untold numbers of plants and animals were burnt along with their homes. Many people were displaced from their homes and their health affected by massive amounts of smoke from the fires. Hundreds of millions of CO2 were released to the atmosphere, thus inevitably contributing to further global warming which also helped the fires exacerbate in the first place.

As an ordinary person, one may feel powerless in the current state of things with regards to the environment in general, as it faces an onslaught from greedy oligarchs and corporations. The situation seems hopeless and it appears that the apocalypse is just around the corner. However, there are still people willing to help stem the tide.

Ecosia is a search engine based out of Berlin, Germany which uses more than 80% of its profits to certified nongovernmental organizations that plant trees in different countries around the world. Its searches are powered by Microsoft Bing and enhanced by their own algorithms. They are committed to data privacy and financial transparency, run on 100% renewable energy, and they are certified by B Lab, a non-profit organization that awards B Corporation certification for for-profit organizations, meaning they meet a standard of transparency, accountability, sustainability, and performance.

They finance the planting of a new tree roughly every second. There is a personal counter in the top right corner of the browser which shows the number of searches you have done in Ecosia. It needs about 45 searches to plant a tree. Clicking on ads generates revenue for Ecosia but even if you don’t click their ads, helping increase their users makes them more relevant for advertisers, increasing their income. As of the writing of this article, according to Ecosia’s home page counter, 83 million trees have been planted with the help of Ecosia users.

If people learned about 2019’s environmental tragedies through browsing the internet, perhaps this time, through Ecosia, they could search to save it.

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