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With Google threatening to pull out of Australia, the founder of a search engine that plants trees when people search believes his platform can help fill this potential void as an ethical alternative.

Ecosia is a search engine based in Germany that uses ad revenue from searches to fund reforestation projects around the world.

The social business was founded by Christian Kroll in 2009 and has so far helped plant more than 119 million trees.

Kroll told Pro Bono News he first became interested in social business models when he was travelling through Nepal and tried starting a search engine that would finance development projects. 

While this was unsuccessful, he said he learnt a lot and it helped renew his focus on using tech for good. 

“After Nepal I travelled through South America, where I saw the devastation caused by massive deforestation and learnt the critical role of trees in reducing carbon, combating hunger and poverty, and restoring biodiversity,” Kroll said.

“When I returned to Berlin in 2009, I started Ecosia with my sister and a couple of friends. We knew from the start that we wanted to put our profits into ecological conservation projects and tree-planting was a natural choice.” 

Today, Ecosia – which uses Bing’s search technology – has around 15 million active users.

In Australia, it makes up just 0.22 per cent of the search engine market.

Google meanwhile holds more than 94 per cent of the market share.

But with the company threatening to pull out of the Australian market due to proposed media bargaining code laws, Kroll believes Ecosia could help fill the search engine void.

“Ecosia already has a strong base in Australia – we’re seeing over 7 million searches made on Ecosia by Australians each month, and users is up 30 per cent year-on-year,” he said.

“[But] there’s still plenty of room to grow. If a large number of [internet] users switched over, it would make a huge difference to the number of trees we’d be able to plant.

“It’s now in the hands of ordinary Australians who can help plant change through their everyday internet searches.”    

Ecosia was the first German company to become a B Corporation and has consistently been rated among the top-performing B Corps in the world.

Kroll said meeting the highest standards of verified social impact performance was incredibly important given Ecosia’s mission to centre people before profit.

He said transparency was central to this, noting that Ecosia has been publishing its financial reports since 2014 to keep it accountable to users.

“Social impact is a thread that runs through everything we do,” he said.

“Whether it’s releasing a new product, considering green investments, or sharing content on our platforms, we aim to cultivate a more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable world.” 

Ecosia funded the planting of 26,000 trees in the Byron Bay region last year with local partner ReForest Now and has just signed a contract to double this figure.

Kroll said Ecosia was more than 350 per cent renewable in 2020, producing enough renewable energy through the seven solar power plants it has built to power its searches and help to push dirty energy out of the grid.

He also said the company has strong privacy protections.

“We’re privacy-friendly, searches are never stored permanently, no personal profiles are created based on search history, and all searches are securely encrypted and anonymised within days,” he said. 

“Ecosia also never uses external tracking tools and never sells data to advertisers.

“Hopefully that’s enough to convince all Australians to use Ecosia and help us to regenerate the planet.”

[Source: This article was published in probonoaustralia.com.au By Luke Michael - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]
Categorized in Search Engine

Ecosia does more than an average search engine. With each click, you can plant a tree and save Earth. Here are the reasons to start using it today.

Although Ecosia is not one of the oldest search engines on the internet, it’s certainly old enough to persist and improve. This Berlin-based search engine has even made a name for itself in recent years.

Sure, Google is considered the top-dog among web browsers, but it doesn’t do everything, nor does it protect your privacy. On the contrary, Ecosia offers several things that no other browser has.

It might be time to switch to Ecosia, especially if you care about the environment. Here are ten reasons why you should use Ecosia rather than putting more money in Google’s wallet:

1. Ecosia Plants Trees as You Surf the Internet

Like other search engines, Ecosia generates revenue from the clicks on advertisements that appear beside and above the search results. Each search query also has a fixed rate.

What makes Ecosia different from Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo is that Ecosia uses 80 percent of its revenue to plant trees.

One of the goals of this not-for-profit search engine is to fight climate change. That is why for every 45 searches that you do in Ecosia, they will plant a tree where people need them most.

They only work with tree-planting partners who use various trees that are native to the area to create a biodiverse forest. Ecosia also ensures that the site is protected after the trees are planted, unlike other organizations.

2. You Can Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Data centers use a lot of energy to send you results. The carbon footprint generated and released into the atmosphere is usually around 0.2 grams of carbon per search query.

Internet Live Stats reported that Google processes over 1.2 trillion searches per year, which would result in 240 billion grams of carbon a year.

You can fight against the climate crisis by reducing your digital carbon footprint with Ecosia. They built their own solar plants in Germany to power their servers using 100% renewable energy so that every search will be carbon-free.

Moreover, each tree that they plant from your 45 search queries will remove 50 kilograms of carbon in the atmosphere in its whole lifetime. It means that each search would have a carbon footprint of negative 1.1 kilograms.

3. It’s Completely Free and Offers the Same Browsing Experience

Like other search engines, Ecosia is free. It also works the same way, so you won’t have a hard time using it. They partnered with Microsoft’s search engine Bing so you’ll see the same reliable results, images, news, and maps.

The only difference is that Ecosia puts a green leaf or fossil fuel icon beside some of the websites in the search results to help you make better decisions. The former symbol signifies that the website or organization is planet-friendly, while the latter would mean that they are one of the world’s biggest polluters.

4. Ecosia Is Available on Mobile Devices

This browser extension has also made its way to mobile devices, as more people are making the switch to greener internet usage. Ecosia even became a default search option for iOS phones.

Apple users alone generated enough ad revenue to plant over seven million trees in 2020. Meanwhile, Ecosia recorded over five million downloads on Google Play Store.

It has several nifty features on the mobile app, such as Safe Browsing, Quick Search, Adblock, Autofill, Add Cards, and Save Passwords. Like other mobile web browsers, it has tabs, incognito mode, bookmarks, history, downloads, and more. Results also load faster than other mobile search engines.

5. Ecosia Is a Privacy-Friendly Search Engine

Unlike Google, which collects your data and uses it in more ways than you can imagine, Ecosia is a privacy-friendly search engine. They don’t store your searches for more than a week, nor do they create personal profiles based on your data.

While Ecosia uses a tracking tool to collect a small amount of data to optimize their services, they don’t use any external or third parties. This way, they can prevent others from accessing your searches and using the data. But if you don’t want to be tracked by Ecosia, you can use their “Do Not Track” feature.

6. They Won’t Sell Your Data to Advertisers

Each of your search queries in Ecosia is securely encrypted to protect you from potential eavesdroppers. Ecosia ensures that nobody between you, them, and services directly involved can spy on your searches.

Also, you can rest easy that the little data they collect to improve their services won’t be sold to any advertisers.

7. Transparent Financial Reports

Ecosia knows that transparency is essential to earn your trust, so they publish their monthly financial reports in full online. Since they pledged 80 percent of their profit to plant trees, they also make sure to be transparent with the budgeting.

The report shows how much they spend on their tree planting project, so you can check whether they fulfilled their promise. You can also see how much money Ecosia generated from your searches and how much they used for marketing and employee salaries.

8. You Can Create Sustainable Jobs

As you continue to use Ecosia and help them earn more profit, you’ll also help Ecosia support more tree planting projects in different countries. This would create more sustainable jobs, which would employ people and help them earn income.

In one of their tree-planting projects in Madagascar, Ecosia hired 160 full-time employees to plant mangroves on the island. They also employed firefighters in Brazil to protect existing forest patches.

9. Help Protect Endangered Animal Habitats

With the money that Ecosia makes from your search queries, they can restore forest corridors in Uganda, replace trees that have been illegally cut on Sumatra, and connect existing forest patches in Madagascar.

These areas are home to endangered animals such as chimpanzees, orangutans, lemurs, and more. Planting more trees would support these animals and provide them with shelter and a source of food and water.

10. They Gamified Searching, Which Makes it Fun

Ecosia gamified their web browser by adding a search counter on the top right of their display. That way, you can track your impact and see how many trees you’ve planted.

This feature makes internet browsing amusing and even teases your gamer instincts to push the numbers as high as possible. It’s fun to watch it go up and can even be addicting.

Save the Earth While Searching the Web

Like any other web browsers, you can search for keywords and keyphrases in Ecosia. But there is more to it than just surfing the web since you can save the Earth and support good causes with each click.

Use Ecosia and make it your default search engine now so you can contribute to a greener Earth.

[Source: This article was published in makeuseof.com By Emma Collins - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]
Categorized in Search Engine

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