What on Earth is Ecosia?
The world has become more conscious towards the impact of human nature on our planet. In communities gone global, more and more people are looking to ‘do good things’ with their careers and lives that fix (and even reverse) the damages made, often via various forms of social enterprise. Here’s where Ecosia is playing a part in this,
Ecosia, founded in 2009, is a search engine, similar to Google or Yahoo and “a social business run by a small group of dedicated people. We work together to create tools that empower everyone to easily do good by planting trees. We believe our trees have the power to make this world a better place for everyone in it.”
Using its ad revenue generated from every time you use their free search engine, Ecosia plants trees around the world. Their core values are honourable, finance reports are consistently transparent, and they’re empowering everyone to make a difference in the world with small changes.
But are they actually achieving what they set out to do?
As an environmental social business?
In short: yes.
Via Quora, Piotr Drodz, Ecosia’s Chief Operating Officer from 2013-16, cleared up a few things about how the process itself worked:
“One search does not equal one tree. The funds generated by Ecosia help to plant about one tree every 30 seconds. When you do a search with Ecosia, we display a personalised tree counter, which shows you how many trees you have already helped plant. Rather than showing you how many trees you have planted all on your own, the counter shows you how many times you have contributed to the planting of a new tree based on the current cost of each tree.”
With over 7 million users, their counter now sits at roughly 25 million trees having been planted using nearly €7M – they’re asking us to follow their journey to planting 1 billion trees before 2020.
Naturally, as is the case with most online things, some people have been critical of the approach: “surely there are better ways to help the planet than switching search engines?” Unfortunately, many take time, and this is one jigsaw piece of the full societal shift picture.
In Brazil, Ecosia works with Pacto, a group of more than 300 tree-planting projects with the goal of reforesting the Atlantic Rainforest. In Peru they work with another tree-planting enterprise called Progresso, and another organisation in the south which looks at carbon emissions called Pur Project. Ecosia is now taking their movement to Uganda, to finance the planting of 250,000 trees, regrowing 500 hectares of land, which will restore chimpanzee habitats.
As a search engine?
In short: it’s getting there.
A search engine should return lots of relevant results to the searcher in a user-friendly environment. Ecosia’s results are definitely relevant. Using Yahoo! and Bing’s algorithm, though considered secondary to Google’s, they’ve not ‘gone it alone’ nor sacrificed search quality too much.
The problem is disparity between Ecosia and Google. The former boasts over 5.5 million active users and 56 queries per second; however, Google is home to 1.17 billion users and over 40,000 queries per second. With 3.7 billion internet users in the world, the monopoly today is very clear.
However, it’s important to remember: mighty oaks from little acorns grow. The more coverage Ecosia receives – the more usage and feedback and investment – the more us humans, and the planet, stand to benefit from it.
Are you already using Ecosia? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page or Comments below.
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