If you care about the environment, you should try the tree-planting search engine Ecosia

Ecosia is a search engine like many others available on the Internet on first glance. You open its website or add it to your browser, type in search terms, get a list of results, and open the linked sites. It would not really be anything special if that would be all there is to it.

What sets it apart is that Ecosia uses 80% of the its profits from user searches for environmental projects. The vast majority of the money is used to plant trees in various parts of the world, part of it is invested in "renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, and grassroots activism".

The project planted more than 120 million trees so far; reason enough to take a closer look at what it has to offer, how it does what it does, how it handles user privacy, and how well the actual search engine works.

How the Ecosia search engine works

ecosia search engine

Ecosia makes money when users click on ads displayed to them in the search results. Ecosia promises that it does not create user profiles and does not sell data to advertisers. It uses no external tracking tools such as Google Analytics, but collects data temporarily by default to improve its service. If you enable Do Not Track in your browser, it is honoring that so that you may opt-out of that tracking as well.

Search results are provided by Microsoft's Bing search engine. Ecosia may be accessed using any web browser, as a browser extension, or as mobile apps on Android and iOS.

Users may sign-in to keep track of their searches across all their devices; the main idea behind the feature is to provide users with a rough estimate on how many trees their searches have planted. Ecosia suggests that a tree is planted every 45 searches on average.

Ecosia earns money when users click on advertisement or make purchases after following advertising links. While not mentioned explicitly, just using Ecosia for searches without ever clicking on advertisement, does not contribute to the company's financials and thus does not result in new trees being planted.

Ecosia users are asked not to click on ads randomly, as this may lead to lower income for the project in the process.

However, Ecosia's attractiveness grows the more users start using the service, and that could lead to better revenue share agreements or opportunities.

Search results are provided by Bing but Ecosia does add a few flavors of its own to the results, including green leaf and coal icons next to company websites that are "planet-friendly organizations"  or "the world's most destructive companies".

Bing's results may not always be of the same quality as those provided by Google; this is especially true for non-English searches. It may be necessary to run searches using other search engines if the results are not satisfactory.

The tree planting activity

Ecosia uses 80% of its profit for green investments, the planting of trees, and to a smaller degree "spreading the word". The company publishes financial reports for each month on its website, and is based in Berlin, Germany.

For December 2020, it made a little bit more  than 2.7 million Euro. The money was used to plant nearly 5 million trees. A list of regions and partners is provided on the page, with options to find out more about each of the projects.

The company explains how it determines where trees need to be planted:

First, we figured out where trees are most urgently needed. That led us to focus on vulnerable biodiversity hotspots, bird migration routes, and environmental crisis zones. A biodiversity hotspot has a lot of biodiversity while also being at risk for destruction. This makes it a highly impactful conservation area.

Next, our tree-planting experts sought out amazing local partners who do the hard work of growing, nurturing and planting trees in these areas. Once they’re in the ground, we continue to work with these partners, using satellite tech and field visits, to ensure our trees survive.

Ecosia maintains a small store and provides users with options to gift trees directly. The company states that it earns about 0.5 cents (Euro) per search, and that it takes approximately 45 searches to finance the planting of a new tree.

Closing Words

It is clear that Ecosia's mission is quite different from that of other search engine companies. Most of the profit is used for environmental projects, and if that appeals to you, you can contribute to the success by starting to use Ecosia. The company publishes blog posts about its planting activities regularly to keep users in the loop.

Options to get users involved beyond that are missing, e.g. through polls to determine the next project / area, or through the use of webcams that provide footage of planted trees, or even through voluntary work.

Now You: Have you tried or looked at Ecosia? What is your take on the project?

Summary
If you care about the environment, you should try the tree-planting search engine Ecosia
Article Name
If you care about the environment, you should try the tree-planting search engine Ecosia
Description
A look at the search engine Ecosia and its tree-planting mission.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Allwynd said on February 21, 2021 at 8:00 am
    Reply

    I’ve used both Ecosia and DuckDuckGo in trying to get away from Google, but the results are just not relevant enough. Non-English searches is irrelevant. Just start searching for obscire things like “lord of the rings online guardian blue build” and unless you’re using Google, you will simply not find what you’re looking for.

    I want to use these search engines, but they are simply not good enough.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on February 21, 2021 at 9:50 am
      Reply

      Everyone can say what they want, but Google is superb. I suppose Startpage.com is really the only ‘alternative’.

      1. ryuk said on February 23, 2021 at 9:39 am
        Reply

        Luckily SP is not the only alternative to Google. Try Searx.

      2. ShintoPlasm said on February 23, 2021 at 11:43 am
        Reply

        Searx is a buggy mess which is blocked from using Google’s Search anyway.

      3. ryuk said on February 23, 2021 at 8:25 pm
        Reply

        Searx is a meta search engine, in preferences Google can be enabled or disabled. There’s not one and only searx but many different public instances that may vary in quality. I use the one below and it works great, Google is enabled by default. Don’t be discouraged with your previous bad experiences, give it a go.

        https://searx.be/

    2. owl said on February 22, 2021 at 2:16 am
      Reply

      I’ve been using “Runnaroo” search engine recently and am happy with it.
      https://www.runnaroo.com/about

      It’s worth a try.
      However, since it is currently for Firefox (and Waterfox that supports WebExtension API), it cannot be plugged in with other browsers.
      If the plug-in is not possible, can use it by registering it on the homepage:
      https://www.runnaroo.com/

      1. ShintoPlasm said on February 22, 2021 at 10:13 am
        Reply

        You don’t even need the extension in Firefox. Just visit the Runnaroo website, click on the three-dot menu in your address bar, then ‘Add Search Engine’.

      2. owl said on February 22, 2021 at 11:13 am
        Reply

        @ShintoPlasm
        > Just visit the Runnaroo website, click on the three-dot menu in your address bar, then ‘Add Search Engine’.

        In my experience, in the past, that technique didn’t work with the Brave and Iridium browsers (I got a “Firefox only” error).
        Thanks for the latest information.

      3. ShintoPlasm said on February 22, 2021 at 12:37 pm
        Reply

        The steps I described work in Firefox only. For Chromium browsers, right-click on the address bar and select Edit Search Engines.

  2. me said on February 21, 2021 at 8:57 am
    Reply

    I’ll pass. The fact is Bing search results tend to be garbage.

  3. ShintoPlasm said on February 21, 2021 at 9:44 am
    Reply

    Ironically, one of the best points about Ecosia is that it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. You have the built-in option to select Google, Bing and others as alternative search options (via ‘More’) as well as directly select Google Maps or Bing Maps for mapping results.

    1. Allwynd said on February 21, 2021 at 9:43 pm
      Reply

      Yeah, well, when you select Google results, it just opens Google Search with the same query, it kind of defeats the purpose of using Ecosia, doesn’t it?

      1. ShintoPlasm said on February 22, 2021 at 8:12 am
        Reply

        But it’s one of the few ‘minor’ search engines that has this option built in, thereby being realistic about its own limitations.

  4. ShintoPlasm said on February 21, 2021 at 9:49 am
    Reply

    PS – I find their latest initiative (coal and green leaf icons) very pretentious – not to mention that it’s quite haphazard at the moment.

  5. trees_need_CO2 said on February 21, 2021 at 12:37 pm
    Reply

    Oh NO! But trees need that CO2 Billy gates of hell tries to eliminate!

    1. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 3:24 am
      Reply

      Geez, do you know ANY facts and science at all or do you just spend your time making nonsensical comments online?

      1. TheCriticalThinker said on March 3, 2021 at 2:04 pm
        Reply

        The scientific FACTS is that trees are photosynthetic organism and they need
        both CO2 and sunlight to live.

        And by the way Bill Gate$ is not a good person by any stretch of the imagination.

  6. some1 said on February 21, 2021 at 1:58 pm
    Reply

    I care about the environment, but anything that me and thousands like me could do in our life times could be undone in an instant by rich people joyriding in their private jets and yachts… so there is no point.

    1. Allwynd said on February 21, 2021 at 9:46 pm
      Reply

      I agree with you, but in a way your thinking translates to “Let’s just lie down and die, because everything is pointless.” Which is counter-productive and I doubt you practice that in other aspects of your life. People have survived, because they want to keep trying and do-gooders are what keeps humanity in check and give it some redeeming value. Otherwise we would live in a complete dystopia.

    2. Ann said on February 23, 2021 at 10:06 am
      Reply

      Help changing the world : start with yourself.
      Ok there is little you can do (I guess) but it’s a start and if the millions like us doing things, som rich guy will have less impact.

    3. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 3:28 am
      Reply

      Wow, you’re just a glass completely empty kinda person, aren’t you? :(

  7. Microfix said on February 21, 2021 at 2:08 pm
    Reply

    Have used the Ecosia search facility here on many occasions, mostly on trivial searches. Was brought to my attention a few years back as a secondary search that plants an environmental building block opposed to a concrete block.
    IOW
    ‘it gives me a sense of enormous wellbeing , parklife!
    and then I’m happy for the rest of the day, safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it’ blur – parklife 1995

  8. finoderi said on February 21, 2021 at 3:13 pm
    Reply

    If you cared about environment you wouldn’t support tree-planting. It’s absolutely idiotic and does more harm than good to the existing ecosystems.

    1. Kent Brockman said on February 21, 2021 at 8:26 pm
      Reply

      Actually, your right. The best approach would be to preserve exisiting forests(like what isn’t happening in the Amazon) rather than raze them and plant new, which man can never do as well as nature can. But man can’t help believing he can exploit and “improve” nature at the same time. Dumb, really dumb, likely our epithet.

    2. John said on February 21, 2021 at 10:06 pm
      Reply

      I’m not a scientist, but it seems to me, just based on common sense, that since trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, and global climate change is caused by having too much carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases of that nature in the atmosphere (primarily due to humankind’s heavy use of fossil fuels), that planting trees would at least fight global climate change in a small way.

      I’m not saying we can solve global climate change simply by planting trees, or that it is necessarily worth it to click a zillion times in a search engine to simply get one tree planted, but it seems like planting trees does help (If potentially only marginally) the environment if one’s primary concern about the environment is global climate change (And for humans, it should be IMO. That’s the one that is directing impacting us the most and will get much worse as the years go by.).

      Am I wrong?

    3. jfadawg said on February 22, 2021 at 3:32 pm
      Reply

      do some research into Ecosia.. they don’t just plant trees , thats the buzz line they use because “we help plant ecosystems to support jobs and people and create food sources while bringing back wildlife” is to long .. they don’t physically plant the trees themselves , they support other local groups who were already doing it.

  9. Coriy said on February 21, 2021 at 3:48 pm
    Reply

    I use Ecosia quite often. Okay, it’s been my default search engine for over a year. I also get to use it at work. Which is nice because DuckDuckGo and the other privacy orientedcsearch engines are blocked.

  10. Anonymous said on February 21, 2021 at 5:35 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for the tip, Greta!

  11. Paul(us) said on February 21, 2021 at 5:45 pm
    Reply

    Strange that a company that stated that their thing is all about protecting the environment is not including humans. This because using Bing is the same as harming humans.

    1. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 3:39 am
      Reply

      Har de har har… Don’t give up your day job to be a comedian yet.

      1. Anonymous said on March 3, 2021 at 2:48 pm
        Reply

        What is so funny about it because Paul(us) is rigth about Bing harming humans.

        Check this out:

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/14/micorsoft-bing-china-censorship-transparency

        They REALLY dont care about human rights.

  12. Kent Brockman said on February 21, 2021 at 5:57 pm
    Reply

    One could also just donate money to a tree-planting organization and skip all the ad clicking.

  13. Dave said on February 21, 2021 at 7:55 pm
    Reply

    We don’t need to plant trees, we need to stop destroying them (and the rest of the ecosystem).

  14. Test Pilot Program said on February 21, 2021 at 8:17 pm
    Reply

    “if you care about the environment” are you that gullible to believe the propaganda? I am sorry to speak like that but apparently people believing in this kind of BS are the reason the world is worst when you find people who don’t know anything about the environment, believe the lies from media and politicians and “activists” and then pretend that by using a search engine “you care more about the environment.

    You have a website, you use internet. what about if you care about the environment you stop using the internet?
    You use a phone, I am 100% sure, what about if you care about the environment you stop using your phone and stop “renewing” your iphone 10 for an iphone 11, because “it is the new one, I was told it is so much better than the last one”.
    And I can ask you that for tablets, cars… especially the no green electric cars, and pretty much anything you probably do technology wise.
    There is ignorant people who believe “solar, wind energies are green” and they don’t even read what components those energies need to be mined, refined, etc to be produced, and most of then can’t even be recycled when they break so all they do is bury them… but sure, cleanest energy if we don’t think about everything but “sun or wind converts to energy” and you don’t think anything else.

    You want to keep using the internet and technology and pretend you are doing ANYTHING for the environment because “ecosia” and other dumb projects like that, that’s the problem. You want to keep using the most dangerous cellphones that have lithium batteries, which are toxic to use, produce, get rid of…. and not even counting the other materials to make a cellphone, plus the slavery of adults and children to make your precious phones, just like cars, which battery is even bigger so imagine the impact on the environment. But unless materials are mined, refined and done by hand while being carried in bicycles, how much environment impact do you think they will have, especially if the materials needed are rare or not the easiest ones to produce or gather?

    Do you even care or you are fine using ecosia and pretending you are helping anything?

    Do you really believe the fairy tale of Ecosia about 120 million trees? Have you ever wondered why they don’t give money to countries other than 3rd world countries? when it is 3rd world countries where you will find less environmental impact by humans? Ecosia SUPPOSEDLY gives money to an organization that says “oh we believe in environment, give us money” and then SUPPOSEDLY they get the money and they SUPPOSEDLY use the money to plant trees. how are you sure most of the money was used for trees or for buying a car? for how long were those organizations given money to really plant and take care of the trees? you don’t know.
    And you also have to believe they know what they are doing, planting a tree is one thing and see it grow to exist and be big and useful years after is another thing. You have to believe they knew what they were doing, they are taking care of the trees they are supposedly planting, they did it the proper place with the proper dirt and the proper weather so the tree will grow fine.

    “if you care about the environment” what a statement, when you probably have 3 computers, 5 phones and apple tv and 6 tvs and alexa and keep using more and more technology which will use more lithium batteries, more materials that need to be mined and refined and mixed etc and more and more energy, that will not come from some elf magic.
    Close your website and stop promoting internet, throw your phone away, don’t buy the idea of stupid electric cars or “alternative energies” which is just a lie and a political agenda, and maybe I will believe anyone cares about the environment.

    It’s like once I got a plastic straw, and someone said “don’t use them, not good for the environment” and I know the person had a phone so I said “throw your phone away and I will believe what you tell me” and the person replied with “well, phones are useful”… so if “it is useful” it doesn’t matter it doesn’t help the supposedly environment, and people can keep using more and more technology and pretend environment is better because dumb crap like Ecosia, and Tesla and some horrible energy like solar or wind (where you will have to go fossil fuel energy at some point of the year like happened in Germany).

    Ecosia mission is just an agenda, and make people believe that by using the same internet everyone else is using they are somehow helping the environment even if they have 2 phones and 5 laptops with them. Ecosia is the perfect image of all those people who support “how dare you” Greta or Green new deal BS, which are just more BS to control people and not really help anything about the environment because it is all words, it is all fairy tales but of course you can’t disagree with them because if not “you are the problem, for not believing our BS environmental agenda” which will not help anyone but powerful people’s pocket, while people stupidly and blindly believe that by using more technology, they will ever help anything for lies like Ecosia.

    Next time you can try to research a little instead of making a bold statement like that becuase it sounds like you are a chill, a paid person to promote some horrible organization like Ecosia (like how they use racial BS to promote environmental BS and some people buy that crap) with a lie like “yeah you are helping environment by searching while still using technology for everything and more and more”

    1. Herman Cost said on February 22, 2021 at 3:19 pm
      Reply

      The tone of this post is perhaps a bit accusatory, but I do think that feel unthinking, emotional feel good environmental fixes advocated by the scientifically ignorant causes more harm than help. And I would add that no one should ever under any circumstances pay the slightest attention to ‘environmentalists’ who fly around on private jets but want to tell other people how they should live.

    2. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 3:53 am
      Reply

      What a sheer waste of time and more importantly environmental resources on your part by posting such a useless wall of text.

      “Do you even care or you are fine using ecosia and pretending you are helping anything?”

      What’s the actual point of your long-winded diatribe? First, do you have any concrete proof that Ecosia is an outright fraud or achieves nothing at all? Second, yes, everybody understands that using Ecosia and planting trees is just a drop in the bucket. But you know what? Most people aren’t doing anything at all for the environment otherwise. So even if they contribute a drop IMO it is still better than doing nothing at all and just continuing on their merry destructive ways. Sure, it would be amazing if more folks took a long hard look at their rampant device usage/upgradation and so on, but you just sound like the depressive guy above who believes it’s all pointless so let’s do nothing at all and simply wait to die.

  15. John said on February 21, 2021 at 10:11 pm
    Reply

    How do Ecosia’s search results compare to DuckDuckGo’s search results?

    The article mentions that Ecosia uses Bing, which seems to be DuckDuckGo’s primary partner as well, but DuckDuckGo also uses it’s own web crawler and hundreds of other specialized third-party sources in addition to Bing (Though Bing seems to be the heaviest part of whatever formula it is using.).

    So, while both search engines probably present similar results, it seems to me that it is possible that DDG’s additional sources could provide it an edge.

    I’d be interested in hearing what people who have actually used both in the real world for extended amounts of time have to say on the subject, though.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on February 22, 2021 at 8:15 am
      Reply

      Pretty much the same in practice.

  16. YouKnowWho. said on February 22, 2021 at 12:40 am
    Reply

    The “Environment” will take care of itself.
    It was here before Humans.
    It has survived with Humans.
    It will outlast Humans.
    The best scenario for the environment is for humans to speed up their own eradication.

    1. owl said on February 22, 2021 at 9:31 am
      Reply

      > The best scenario for the environment is for humans to speed up their own eradication.

      Your opinion is off-topic, but it does however get to the heart of environmental destruction.
      Frankly speaking, there are too many Homo sapiens for the Earth’s capacity.
      It is precisely because there are too many Homo sapiens that the ecosystem is being upset, the global environment is being destroyed, and we are heading for decline (ruin) of the earth.
      Each one of us must think seriously and take action.
      If we don’t start, nothing will get done. In particular, a resource-saving lifestyle is required.
      And follow the laws of nature (everything has a lifespan, destiny and fate).

      1. Anonymous said on March 3, 2021 at 4:10 pm
        Reply

        And intead of following the laws of nature most people consume a MASSIVE amount of resources with the only porpuse of saving a very small percentage
        of the population and not only this makes the overpopulation problem even
        worst but also causes great enviromental damage.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297173/

        We all should just follow the laws of nature like the survival of the fittest and stop
        all virtue signaling nonsense .

        There is also ALOT of programmed obsolescence ,marketing BS and pure greed that waste many resources .

        And by the way plantig trees is not going to work if the earth where thouse trees
        live is full of toxic garbage.

    2. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 3:55 am
      Reply

      Nihilistic, but sadly true.

  17. owl said on February 22, 2021 at 3:16 am
    Reply

    I have known “Ecosia” since its initial release.
    However, as a search engine, it is lacking in practicality, it is not an alternative to “Google”.

    I can sympathize with the fact that Ecosia has “environmental issues” as its corporate philosophy, but I am skeptical about a mere “tree planting” campaign (although I am supporting the National Geographic, WWF, and UNESCO.).
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Fund_for_Nature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO

    What is important is the preservation of wildlife and the global environment. Each of us must make an effort to be in harmony with nature, understanding that humans are part of the ecosystem that inhabits the earth and that we need to be moral. However, the top priority is to educate political leaders.

  18. Nancy said on February 22, 2021 at 8:22 am
    Reply

    I’m frightened of the consequences of non-conformity with the current social justice trend so now I tell everyone I use Ecosia and I only ever used Ecosia.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on February 22, 2021 at 11:31 am
      Reply

      lol

      1. Herman Cost said on February 22, 2021 at 3:20 pm
        Reply

        The tone of this post is perhaps a bit accusatory, but I do think that feel unthinking, emotional feel good environmental fixes advocated by the scientifically ignorant causes more harm than help. And I would add that no one should ever under any circumstances pay the slightest attention to ‘environmentalists’ who fly around on private jets but want to tell other people how they should live.

      2. Herman Cost said on February 22, 2021 at 6:21 pm
        Reply

        This is a mistaken double post which was a reply to a prior posting. Sorry. But as long as I am here let me add a +1 to Nancy’s post. :-)

    2. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 4:02 am
      Reply

      Unfortunately for you your ruse has been seen through, and thus you have been cancelled and accordingly are a non-entity now, so your opinion doesn’t matter anyway. Congrats, the pressure’s off! ;p

  19. Anonymous said on February 22, 2021 at 7:09 pm
    Reply

    “It uses no external tracking tools such as Google Analytics”

    They use external tracking tools (for Facebook, Google…) on non-search pages.

    “Ecosia promises that it does not create user profiles”

    By default, which is what matters, they let Microsoft do the profiling with their Bing client ID cookie.

    They store personal data for a week themselves.

    They store in cookies a user identifier for themselves, a Bing client ID for Bing, a timestamp of the last search, a search counter…

    “and does not sell data to advertisers”

    They still process search queries to target ads.

  20. Jocco said on February 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm
    Reply

    Stop using trees to wipe butts, save 20 years!!!

    1. Lars said on February 27, 2021 at 4:04 am
      Reply

      True, but wasting water instead isn’t environmentally friendly either!

  21. Majed said on February 25, 2021 at 4:08 pm
    Reply

    I tried #start_page #duckduckgo and I find last one is the best

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