Saving trees one search at a time
Evan Christopher White
Imagine if you could help save the environment by searching for your favorite place to eat or newest SNL video online. One small eco-friendly tech start-up is hoping to make that a reality, their name is Ecosia. This ambitious group of environmentally conscious techies plan to harness the power of the search engine for an environmentally sustainable purpose.
Ecosia started as the dream of Christian Kroll, who is the current Chairman and CEO of the organization. Mr. Kroll became disenfranchised with the profit motive as the chief aim of business when studying Business Administration in Nuremberg, Germany. After traveling around the world for one year, Mr. Kroll decided that his calling was to aid in the protection of trees. His ideas for an environmentally sustainable business model came true when he launched Ecosia in 2009. Ecosia is still a relatively small start-up with a staff of only 18 employees, based out of Berlin, Germany.
Their business platform is straightforward: a user logs on to their website and uses the search bar to make an inquiry that then takes them to a results page with advertisements found along the top of the search results. It’s through those advertisements where Ecosia generates the revenue to power their environmentally sustainable initiatives. A full 80% of all discretionary income is spent on planting trees, which Ecosia believes is the most effective way they may help fight the negative effects of Climate Change.
Ecosia boasts that it only takes “11 seconds” using their search engine to plant a tree. In fact, it only takes around 0.28 Euros in operating costs to plant a tree. As of February 2017, Ecosia had already generated over 2.8 million Euro’s worth of donations, which is approximately 3 million dollars. Ironically, 3 million is also the average active user rate for the search engine, with each user generating revenue from each search they make. Ecosia, however, is nowhere near the level of usage of other search engines on the internet, with Google alone averaging over 3.5 billion searches a day.
Currently, Ecosia has integrated itself into Google Chrome as an extension, where the user can log onto chrome and see in the top right corner, how many trees they have ‘planted’ through the aid revenue generated from their searches. The Chrome addition can be added to any user’s existing Chrome browser, and works by replacing the traditional google search homepage, with Ecosia’s own, thus using the accessibility of the Chrome interface with Ecosia’s pre-existing search engine. In addition to the Chrome extension, Ecosia has launched a personal search app for both the IOS and Android platforms, so Ecosia can be easily accessed on any smartphone or tablet device.
Ecosia’s hopes that it’s form of environmentally friendly business model, as espoused by Christian Kroll, can inspire other businesses to become environmentally conscious as well. Ecosia is still relatively unknown in the world of search engines, but that only leaves room to grow.
( Photo courtesy of Ecosia.org )