I was compensated for my time and research writing and marketing this post by Ecosia.
I have a confession to make: I’m an extreme Googler.
I google everything, which is why I can tell you about sperm whales’ amazing interactions with humans, the ages and filmography of every Stranger Things actor, the history of the Guatemalan Civil War, the invention of the potato donut, and so much more!
Web browsers and search engines are things many of us consider ethics neutral. They are merely the framework we use to research, discuss, and deal with ethical issues. But that’s not really true.
Search engines are owned by private companies with private interests and varying degrees of respect for our privacy, or concern for basic human and ecological thriving. And not too many of them are concerned with the immediate impact of a quick search or a fall down the rabbit hole that is the internet.
I recently started using a search engine that confronts these ethical issues head on by offering accountability and an ecological benefit every time you do a search.
Click over to Ecosia, type in your search terms, press enter, and plant trees.
How it works
Ecosia operates on the carbon neutral Bing platform, the second most popular search engine in the world, to offer a social benefit with every search.
Like all browsers, Ecosia displays ads alongside regular search results. When you click on those ads, Ecosia gets a commission. They pay business expenses and payroll, then use at least 80% of surplus income to plant trees through carefully selected partnerships around the world. As a certified B-Corp, they maintain accountability to the public by offering monthly income reports.
Why Plant Trees?
Planting trees isn’t exactly the most glamorous issue to confront in the sustainability sector. But Ecosia chooses to invest their profits in planting trees because the benefit to people and planet is multi-fold and exposes the interconnectedness of ecological and human thriving.
It turns out, we need trees to survive.
And in dramatically deforested places, replanting can mean the difference between life and death. From restoring one of the planet’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in Tanzania to reforesting orangutan habitat devastated by the palm oil industry in Borneo, trees give animals their homes back, reduce erosion, and ensure that soil is fertile for crop production. The organizations Ecosia partners with also offer longterm conservation education and help locals transition into sustainable industries.
In the longterm, healthy forest ecosystems contribute dramatically to human flourishing. Forests pull water from their roots and release it through their leaves, which creates clouds that water crops; they regulate the temperature of their environment; they produce food like nuts, berries, and spices; and they reduce the effects of climate change, both by removing CO2 from the air and by creating microclimates that protect sensitive crops. Trees have evolved to protect us in the most foundational ways, by providing clean air and regulated growth of edible plants.
To date, Ecosia has helped plant over 16 million trees!
And all that to say this: switching your search engine might literally be the easiest sustainable switch you’ll ever make.
If you switch to Ecosia for all your shopping this Holiday season, you’ll contribute to dramatic and sustainable progress.
So what are you waiting for? Start using Ecosia now.
Photos by Stephan Vance and John Price on Unsplash
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.