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

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 21, 2021
Internet, Search

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?

If you care about the environment, you should try the tree-planting search engine Ecosia
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If you care about the environment, you should try the tree-planting search engine Ecosia
A look at the search engine Ecosia and its tree-planting mission.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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