Out of all the various methods to reduce your carbon footprint, ever imagined using a search engine to reduce pollution? Well turns out you can. This eco-friendly internet venture is known as Ecosia. It is an Internet search engine based in Berlin, Germany, that plants trees by donating 80% or more of its surplus income to non-profit organizations that focus on reforestation and conservationism.
Sounds too good to be true? Well here’s more, Ecosia considers itself a social business, is CO2-negative, claims to support full financial transparency, protects the privacy of its users and is certified by B-Lab as a benefit corporation. The website maintains a record and shows all the possible evidence it can of the aforementioned features. If one has a look over the past operations of the company, then all these claims could be considered as legitimate. Ecosia first launched on 7 December 2009 to coincide with UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Since then it took part in various different environment conservation and planting programs.
By 2011, with the money that Ecosia raised, some more than a hundred thousand saplings were planted across different projects. These numbers bumped up even more as the company saw itself now donating and actively participating in multiple programs spanning the globe. Another example is the Great Green Wall project, backed by the African Union and the World Bank, that aims to prevent desertification of land masses. According to B-Labs, Ecosia raised over a $1.5 million for rainforests by the year 2015 and was donating almost 80 percent of its income to these causes. The search engine has a live counter of the number of trees that it has helped plant. It crossed the 50 million trees mark earlier this year and is still going strong.
There’s even more good attached to this company on the operational side. Ecosia uses 80% or more of its profits from advertising revenue to support tree planting projects, the rest is put into backup reserves for unforeseen circumstances – if these reserves are not used they are channeled back into the company’s tree planting fund. They publish a monthly financial report on their website about their earnings and how the money is spent. Even if any doubt still remained of their dealings, it was brushed aside even more when in 2018, the company founder Christian Kroll gave up part of his shares to the Purpose Foundation. As a result, Kroll and Ecosia co-owner Tim Schumacher gave up their right to sell Ecosia or take any profits out of the company.
If Ecosia’s claims are actually a 100 percent true, which seems like it, they have set an amazing example. The two of the biggest problems that we are facing right now, global warming and privacy over the internet, and this business model tackles both of them while generating enough revenue for the sustenance of its workers.