Ecosia is a search engine which gained popularity because of its’ promise to put 80% or more of its profits towards nonprofit organizations that focus on reforestation. Ecosia had promised to maintain full financial transparency and publishes its monthly financial reports to build a trust with its users. This search engine originally delivered a variation of search results from Yahoo! and technologies from Bing and Wikipedia. All advertisements provided by the search engine were delivered by Yahoo! as part of their revenue sharing agreement with the company which changed now that Ecosias’ search results are provided by Bing to improve the engines algorithms. Ecosia is currently available on mobile for Android and IOS devices as well as PCS and Macs which makes it widely accessible.
Launched on December 7th, 2009 at Un climate talks in Copenhagen, Ecosia supported various tree-planting programs. Until December of 2010 all profits made at Ecosia went towards WWF Germany which protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon basin. To aide in protecting this area, employees at Ecosia created financial plans with timber companies and local communities. This led to them raising 250,000 euro in 2011. Ecosia had donated to Plant a Billion Trees program from July 2013 until September 2014. This program was managed by The Nature Conservancy which wanted to restore the Brazilian Atlantic Forest by planting a million trees by 2015. In 2015 Ecosia had also helped fund the reforestation program in Burkina Faso which was part of the Great Green Wall project supported by African Union and the World Bank in efforts to prevent desertification.
By 2015 Ecosia has 2.5 million active uses which helped plant more than 2 million trees. In January of 2020, Ecosia had donated all its profits towards Reforest Now, which was a local NGO that not only plants to restore the forest but also “make the area more resilient against future fires.” It was reported that the profits made were used to plant 26,446 trees.
The advertisements shown next to search results on Ecosia pay them each time that a user is directed to the sponsored link. Each search on Ecosia raises half a cent on average according to the FAQ on Ecosia’s website. Another interesting statistic is that it takes 0.22 euro and 0.8 seconds to plant a tree!
The founder of Ecosia, Christian Kroll, used 80% of his profits and 47.1% of his income on advertising to support reforestation projects. Ecosia is involved with reforestation in 16 countries around the world: Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, Spain, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Indonesia. In 2018, Ecosia had offered RWE AG 1 million euro to buy Hamback Forest from German energy to save it from reforestation for lignite mining.
However, looking at the success Ecosia has achieved, according to Finely Amelia Smith, a former Animator/ Editor at Journal of Visual Experiments (2014-2017) Ecosia is losing in comparison to Google. Smith says that the fact that Ecosia use Bing rather than Google means that they are wasting resources with each search, “Microsoft still doesn’t use 100% renewable energy, they’re at 40% and lower in some places around the world. Google, however, is entirely run on renewables.” While Trudie Carter the Social Media Manager at Ecosia has argued that their search engine actually does beat Google in its strive to be more environmentally friendly saying “each search with Ecosia actually removes 1 kg of CO2 from the air, which makes Ecosia a carbon-negative search engine”, “On average, these trees will each remove 50 kg of CO2 during an expected 15 year lifetime.”
I have been using Ecosia for a little over six months now and found that although the search engine is slightly behind Google in its efficient search results, it is still a good search engine. It delivers the information I need and takes me to the sites I want to visit. Of course, it also comes guilt free since I feel as though I am helping make a difference without leaving my house.