Ecosia, the brainchild of 32-year-old Berlin environmentalist Christian Kroll, sends 80 percent of the profits from ad revenue generated when visitors click on a sponsored search result to nonprofits working on reforestation efforts around the globe.
Launched in 2009, the company has since funded the planting of more than four million trees in Brazil and the West African nation of Burkina Faso, where deforestation and desertification, respectively, have made it difficult for farmers to grow food. Ecosia hopes to expand its efforts to other countries with the goal of getting a billion trees in the ground by 2020.
Does the search engine work as well as Google or Yahoo? Absolutely, says Kroll, but convincing people to try an alternative has proved challenging, given the big guys’ name recognition. To remind users of Ecosia’s advantage – direct charity at no added cost – an on-screen widget tallies the trees the site helps plant in real time (roughly one every 14 seconds). “It’s an easy way to make a difference each and every day,” says Kroll.