Ecosia Search Engine Results in Greener Pastures
Imagine a world in which you can be lying in bed, downing Cheetos, doing research on your laptop, and still actively be contributing to making the world a better, cleaner place. It’s no fantasy – that’s reality with the Ecosia search engine. Ecosia is the first search engine that plants trees!
Ecosia is a private search engine and is one of the largest social businesses in the world. What makes Ecosia so different, is that they donate almost 80% of their profits to nonprofits that emphasize reforestation efforts. With more than 15+ million users globally, Ecosia and partner nonprofits have planted over 100 million trees around the world.
- Revenue generated from around 45 searches is enough to plant a tree.
- Ecosia is certified by B-corporation for the social and environment impact with the score of 113.
- Their servers are powered by company-owned solar plants.
- Excess energy generated from company solar plants are supplied to grid.
- They don’t use tax-avoidance strategies like other tech companies.
- Their operational ideas are transparent and better in terms of privacy, serves less ads than other major search engines like Google.
A recent study revealed that if Ecosia becomes as widely used as Google, the projected impact on the environment would be staggering. Search results powered by user-inquiry would fund the planting of enough trees to capture 15% of global CO2 emissions – roughly equal to neutralizing emissions from all road vehicles.
Ecosia was awarded with B Corporation Status in April 2014; the only search engine to be awarded with this title. The mission is to cultivate a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world. Every time you use Ecosia, you’re contributing to a healthier, more sustainable world.
How Ecosia Search Engine Works
Ecosia is a privacy-friendly search engine powered by Microsoft Bing. It’s a downloadable browser extension that you can easily make it your default search platform. Like other companies, Ecosia generates income from ads and traffic; however, it does not store or sell your information to third parties.
Ecosia has a commitment to full transparency and trust. Unlike many other search engines, Ecosia does not sell your data to advertisers and has no third-party trackers.
There are some instances in which user-submitted information is handled by third-party tools; however, they are transparent with which tools they use directly on the Ecosia website.
Again, these are items and bits of information that user must actively submit such as name, phone number, or email, for use with services such as their newsletter (Mailchimp), their blog (Ghost), or when taking a part in an online survey (Typeform).
And yes, Ecosia is powered by Bing. That said, Ecosia does interact with the Bing search engine to return a result for your request; however, they do so with non-identifiable and minimal data included.
For example, when you do a search on Ecosia, they forward the following information to Bing: IP address (obfuscated), user agent string, search term, and some settings like your country and language setting.
Ecosia does not sell or track personal data.
Most web services collect user data in order to sell it without asking your permission. Ecosia does not sell data or searches to advertising companies, and it does not create personal profiles or store searches. In turn, this garnishes a unique level of authenticity between the query and the results.
Ecosia does collect a small amount of data for search improvement, such as geographic location and IP address, but users are able to opt out of all tracking at any time by selecting the “Do Not Track” option in the browser’s settings.
The Ecosia engine also deletes all user data on a weekly basis. This ensures that Ecosia has no way of knowing who searched for what, and no way of building user profiles, skewing search results, or target ads.
Bing search engine deletes Ecosia requests every four days.
Ecosia engine is encrypted.
Ecosia protects searches from potential hackers and trackers, with a securely encrypted connection. The search engine uses Digicert, one of the largest and most trusted SSL certificate authorities, to generate and manage their SSL certificates.
Ecosia’s servers are located around the world in order to provide a fast response no matter where you are. When you perform a search on Ecosia, your request will generally be routed to the server that is geographically nearest to you in order to return fastest results.
They host the search engine using a self-hosted, secure and encrypted in-house analytics system that enables them to gather minimal data about how users interact with Ecosia products in a secure and anonymized way.
Commitment to Transparency
Do you know a company that publishes their monthly financial reports? You do now. Ecosia wants to establish trust with its users by not only protecting your privacy but maintaining a level of above-the-belt transparency.
The monthly financial reports show exactly how much money was made from user searches, and what percentage of the revenue went towards trees.
Ecosia pays their partners each month to plant trees around the world. From Brazil to Ghana, Ecosia contributes to bringing back forests and supporting communities and nonprofits around the world.
In tandem with their commitment to transparency, they include on their website how much they pay out to each partner project every month.
They also include a tree count ticker on their website for every time someone makes a web search using Ecosia!
Ecosia: Purpose over Profit
Ecosia’s founder and CEO Chris Kroll, made two promises when he established Ecosia:
- He would never sell Ecosia, as he wanted to maintain the commitment to the purpose and privacy.
- He would never take any profits out of the company.
Being a steward-owned company means there are two legally binding and irreversible restriction on Ecosia:
- Shares cannot be sold at-profit or owned by people outside of the company.
- No profits can be taken out of the company.
Ecosia doesn’t focus on maximizing the amount of profit for self-gain, rather, the focus is on the number of trees they plant and the impact that has on the world.