Inspiring

A search engine plants a tree every time you search something

Since its inception in 2009, Ecosia has planted over 52,000,000 trees.

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Doing a quick Google search to find a piece of information we need has become so natural, that the vast majority of people don't stop to think about the effects of every one of these searches.

Every time someone types a question into Google, Bing, or any of their competitors, their servers start working and use electricity. One search doesn't make a difference, but on a global scale, massive amounts of energy are used to answer our questions every day.

A German internet search engine decided to do more than just pay lip service to climate change. Ecosia actually reverses the effects of climate change by planting trees every time you use it. With each search, the company removes around 1 kg of Co2 from the air.

The nonprofit startup began operating in 2009 and has really taken off, especially in Germany, because of its mission. Christian Kroll, Ecosia's founder, decided to start the company after he saw the damage caused by deforestation during a trip around the world he took after university. He thought a search engine was an innovative way to help the environment.

“Climate change is a very real threat and if we’re to stop the world heating above the 1.5 degrees warned about in the IPCC report, we need to plant trees at scale,” Kroll wrote in a statement. “People now use Ecosia in 183 countries and we’re really excited that users have helped us plant 50 million trees".

There is a counter on the website that is constantly moving. The Click Hub estimates that the startup plants 715 trees per second, which comes out to 42,900 trees per minute. According to Kroll, if Ecosia gets as big as Google, they could absorb 15 percent of all global CO2 emissions.

Ecosia partnered with Bing, Microsoft's search engine, and receives a majority portion of revenues. It takes approximately 50 searches to plant one tree and every tree planted will remove around 50 kg of Co2 from the atmosphere during its lifetime. All of the company's profits are used to plant trees and the company is aiming to reach 100 million trees by the end of 2019 and to eventually reach 1 trillion trees.

Ecosia has 20 partner projects, mostly NGOs, that are mostly in developing countries in Africa, South America, and Indonesia. Ecosia finances the planting and asks for proof from the organization that not only the trees are planted but the workers are treated properly.

"We have lots of criteria for each project with basic requirements like no child labor, no monocultures. Also, the price of a surviving tree needs to be very low, and the benefits of planting that tree need to be very high," Kroll said in an interview with Agfunder.

All of the tree planting is on common land and has to benefit the community economically. One of the partners is the Jane Goodall Institute, an NGO that is working to restore the forests in Uganda that are the natural habitat of chimpanzees.

And Ecosia is doing more than just planting trees. The startup is also concerned about running on clean energy. Servers use a lot of power to run. According to a Greenpeace report, if the internet were a country it would rank third in the world in terms of electricity consumption. That’s why Ecosia is committed to only using clean energy.

In 2017, the startup decided to build its own solar energy plant and the 531kWp plant is now up and running and has replaced electricity from fossil fuels. Ecosia is also the first German company to become a B Corp thanks to its business model.

If you use Ecosia as your search engine or add it to your browser, you will start your own personal counter and you will be able to see how many trees you have planted. You don't even have to get your hands dirty or remember to water them.

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