(UR) Berlin, Germany — If the prospects of a climate change denier taking office in the U.S. as of January 2017 frighten you, here is something you can do to help the planet without so much as lifting a finger. Just keep browsing the web as you do every day, but give Google a miss this time and opt instead for Ecosia, an eco-friendly search engine that works like any other, only it donates over 80 percent of its ad revenue to planting trees all over the world.

Ecosia was launched in Berlin 2009 by German environmentalist and entrepreneur, Christian Kroll, whose travels across Asia and South America strengthened his already existing drive to set up a green business model and make corporate social responsibility a core part of it.

“Companies should take corporate responsibility out of their marketing department and bring it to CEO level,” Kroll told Underground Reporter.

According to Ecosia’s blog, Kroll was particularly inspired by trees being “the superheroes of the planet,” given they are “the most efficient CO2 absorbers” and therefore “help mitigate climate change, restart water cycles, keep deserts from spreading and turn barren grounds back into fertile woods and farmland”.

With an outreach of over 2.6 million users a month, Ecosia has helped plant more than 5 million trees to date by funding projects in Peru, Burkina Faso, and Madagascar. Users are invited to keep track of their spending by consulting the company’s financial reports and tree planting receipts which are published online to ensure transparency.

Even if you don’t tend to click on ads yourself, other people certainly do, and helping spread the word and leading by example is very likely to have an impact. For example, during the second quarter of 2016, Google’s ad revenues surpassed $19 billion.

“If Google was to do what we did, that would be amazing…but they don’t give away 80% of their profits,” Nikki Maksimovic, a member of the Ecosia Communications team told Underground Reporter.

Ecosia may not yield the same search results as Google and that is because it is still growing, but also partly because it chooses not to store user data. However, that does not mean the search engine can’t still be used on a daily basis.

“It’s important to bear in mind that it’s not all or nothing. You can use Ecosia 80% of the time, 30% of time, 50% of the time, or whatever you can, and still be making a big difference,” Maksimovic said.

Other than the lucid environmental benefits, planting trees also helps empower local communities. Recalling an interview with Safitu, a local female leader involved in one of Ecosia’s funded projects in Burkina Faso, Maksimovic related how whenever Safitu sees children tugging at young tree shoots she holds their hand and takes them to sit under and enjoy the shade cast by one of the older trees.

“She tells them this is why you have to protect these trees…They start to understand how their life and community is tied in with that of the forest, and that gets passed down to generations…That’s real sustainability.”


Image: Eden Reforestation Projects/Ecosia


Image: PUR Projet Peru/Ecosia


Image: PUR Projet Peru/Ecosia

This article (You Can Plant Millions of Trees for Free Just By Using This New Web Browser) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Elika Ansari and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to undergroundreporter2016@gmail.com. Featured image: PUR Projet Peru/Ecosia/used with permission.