How You Browse The Internet Can Make An Environmental Difference
Over 330 million people live in the United States. Close to 90 percent of them have and use access to a computer (which is close to 300 million). All in all, that is a LOT of internet use on a daily basis. What most people don’t realize or probably ever think about is how much energy it takes to run the worldwide web. Plugging into the electricity grid to run these monstrous powerhouses takes a toll on the environment through the emission of greenhouse gasses. Yes, the IT companies are doing more to use renewable energy which is great, but let’s think about doing our part too.
Making a positive impact on the environment is about all the little individual steps every single one of us can do on a daily basis with the numerous choices we make in how we navigate our lives. Such as going plastic-free, purchasing locally, reducing water consumption, and adopting a curricular economic mindset. Another small hack you can do every day is to make a different choice when browsing the internet. By using a different search engine, you can help protect the earth’s ecosystems and provide assistance to those in need. There are eco-friendly search engines that fight climate.
How CO2 Affects Our Climate
You probably know by now that carbon dioxide (CO2) gasses are one of the main causes of climate change. And now you also know, every time you perform an internet search you’re adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, as Google has stated that a search generates 0.2 grams of CO2 (posted in 2009- we don’t actually know if things have gotten better or worse. Better with more suitable energy solutions and worse because of more users…? The exact figure is open to debate.
What Gets Rid of CO2? Trees & Oceans
Since humans are not taking the drastic measures that are needed to stop or to even slow climate change (transitioning to energy sources that do not emit greenhouse gasses: solar, wind, biofuel, and nuclear) we can enhance other methods that pull CO2 from the air while also adding oxygen, forests and oceans.
- Oceans contribute 70% of the global oxygen produced mostly by the phytoplankton plant.
- Trees and forests take care of the remaining 30%.
- Therefore any deforestation or pollution to the oceans are huge problems contributing to the planet’s suffocation.
- Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
- This rate is higher than the speed of tree-planting and tree-growing.
- According to the World Economic Forum, more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year.
- If this plastic devastation rate continues, the oceans are expected to have more trash than fish by 2050.
What You Can Do To Help
There are several ways to make a significant difference. From lowering your carbon footprint, to switching to an electric vehicle, to choosing eco-travel adventures, to responsibly recycling everything. The guides here show many ways you can make changes in all facets of your life to help the environment. What we’re focusing on here is a simple change: switching your default browser to a greener search engine.
How Changing Search Engines Helps
Search engines make money by hosting ads. Whenever users click on an ad, the search engine makes money. The ones we’re sharing with you have committed to funneling significant portions (sometimes all) of their profits to environmental or social good causes.
These alternative search engines don’t get a lot of attention. Let’s remedy that by introducing a few of them to you now.
- Ecosia — plants trees and protects biodiversity through searches.
- Ekoru — partners with organizations that work directly on climate mitigation strategies such as Operation Posidonia who plants seagrass to “reforest” the ocean and Big Blue Ocean Cleanup which removes plastic and netting from the ocean. They also host worldwide beach cleanups.
- giveWater — helps provide clean water and sanitation.
- Ocean Hero — helps collect plastic from oceans through searches.
Ecosia’s search engine was created in 2009. They address issues of deforestation across the globe and focus their efforts on especially vulnerable areas. Ecosia pays particular attention to biodiversity and working in cooperation with local communities.
- As of today, they have planted over 144 million trees.
- When you search using Ecosia, you’ll see a tracker that tells you how many trees you have planted.
- Their Android app states that they “run on 200% renewable energy.”
- They publish monthly financial reports and show receipts for trees they have planted.
- For the privacy-conscious, they have no third-party trackers and don’t sell your data.
- Ecosia is the first German company to achieve Certified B Corporation status, which means that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.
Started by a software professional, Ekoru was created to help clean the oceans. They donate 60% of their revenue, which is generated from clicks on sponsored search results, to partner organizations who work on climate change issues.
- Joined forces with Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit that helps clean and protect the world’s oceans.
- As well as with Operation Posidonia, a cutting-edge project by the University of New South Wales which is reforesting oceans by replanting seagrass meadows that generate oxygen and trap CO2.
- Ekoru’s servers are powered by hydroelectricity, which cuts down on their own carbon emissions making every search environmentally friendly.
- Configured their search pages to use less CO2 per search.
- Surfrider and Lonely Whale, organizations that work to preserve marine environments, are two of their Ocean Warrior Affiliates.
- Also connected with for-profit affiliates that use recycled ocean plastics to produce ocean-friendly products, or support ocean conservation, including Love Beauty and Planet.
- Ekoru keeps a running total of kilograms of CO2 emissions saved by users collectively. They also track your stats for plastic bottles removed and blades of seagrass planted.
Michael Feeley founded giveWater in 2006 after learning of Scott Hamilton’s nonprofit, Charity: Water with a mission to end the water crisis by bringing clean and safe drinking water to developing countries. Both organizations exist to address the pressing need for accessible water in many corners of the world.
- The search engine is a for-profit LLC that donates all its profits to charity:water and other organizations that bring clean water and sanitation to people living in places without that infrastructure.
- They partner with experienced local organizations that build sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world, serving 29 countries.
- Almost 80 thousand water projects have been funded.
- You can see every water-funded project on an interactive world map.
- giveWater’s website is simple and straightforward compared to other social search engines.
Ocean Hero recovers ocean-bound plastic and builds recycling infrastructure. A visit to their website provides loads of environmental information, including a five-part encyclopedia for those who want to learn more about marine animals. Installing their browser will give you pop-up quizzes about marine ecosystems and plastic pollution from time to time.
- For every five searches you do on Ocean Hero, you recover one plastic bottle.
- Ocean Hero partners with Plastic Bank to establish and improve recycling infrastructures globally.
- In countries such as Indonesia, Haiti, and the Philippines, plastic becomes a valued commodity to be traded in for cash.
- Ocean Hero has recovered the plastic equivalent of over 23 million bottles from the ocean.
TIPS: How To Use A New Search Engine
Number one, first just give it a try! If you really can’t stand any of the eco-search engine options listed you can always go back to your regular one. Making changes can be challenging, so give yourself a little time to adjust.
- Prepare for a bit of a different visual experience.
- If you’re used to Google, another search engine will look differently.
- Search results may be different from what you’ve come to expect.
- Give yourself a little time to get used to navigating search results.
- Don’t try to manipulate the system in order to support the cause. Random or excessive clicks on ads will trigger alerts that penalize the organizations you want to support.
Here’s a preview of some of the home pages.
Remember, you are using the internet anyway so choose to make it an eco-friendly experience.
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