56 Million Trees Planted Globally: Ecosia Search Engine Plants One Tree Every Second For Your Searches

Image Credits: Ecosia

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In a single day, Google, the planet’s most popular search engine, receives nearly 63,000 searches, translating to 2 trillion searches per year. Now, imagine the statistics in terms of number of trees; if the world had one new tree for every search, would climate change be a thing of the past now?  While it all may sound like a startling idea to fantasize about, a German startup is striving to make this a reality. Ecosia, a Berlin-based non-profit organisation runs a search engine of the same name which plants a tree every second from more than 80% of their profits.

So far, Ecosia has planted over 56 million trees in parched hinterlands of developing nations like Brazil, Indonesia, Peru, Haiti, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, Ghana and others. To plant one tree, on an average it needs around 45 searches and less than INR 9.

Search Engine Plants Trees

This translates to the removal of over 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Presently, Ecosia has over 7 million active users spread across 183 nations. Founder Christian Kroll aims to touch the milestone of 100 million trees by the end of 2019, as shared with AgFunder News.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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The story of Ecosia

Ecosia first came into being in December 2009, coinciding with the Copenhagen climate talks that stirred a lot of discussion on climate change. Christian Kroll, a fresh graduate in business administration then, has just returned home from a world tour. He wanted to start a profitable venture, whose profits would surpass monetary worth and would make the world a better place. The idea of creating a search engine that plant trees occurred to him while using Google. He witnessed the power of advertising and earning through Google and pondered if the same model can be replicated to serve a greater good. Thus Ecosia was born.

Initially, the search engine sourced search results from Yahoo!, Bing and Wikipedia. Later, Ecosia partnered with Microsoft Bing and is currently available on all digital formats – web browser and Android or iOS mobile app.

Ecosia adopted a privacy-friendly policy in 2018 and now all their searches are encrypted, preventing any third party advertiser to access the data.

Ecosia’s plantation projects around the world

Since 2009, Ecosia has been conducting various mass-scale tree plantation programmes all over the world and also collaborated with global stakeholders working with afforestation, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in protecting the Amazon basin and Jane Goodall Institute to restore the forest habitats of chimpanzees in Uganda.

Ecosia has also been involved in the ambitious Great Green Wall project in Burkina Faso, Africa which is combating rampant desertification.

At present, Ecosia has over 20 project partners across the world. The process works quite smoothly. 20% of the revenue generated is kept for internal expenses, and the rest is sent across these partnering NGOs stationed in different countries. The plantation is conducted on the ground by these non-profits and relevant evidence is sent to Ecosia headquarters in Berlin. Next, the company ensures that all their partners are keeping their promise to not just plant a sapling or sow a seed, but to take care of the plants till maturity as well.

“We need to change the way we eat, the way we farm, the way we generate our energy – we also need to plant a trillion trees,” the founder told AgFunder News.

A greener world, a cleaner society

Not only the environment but Ecosia’s projects are also helping to build a better, cleaner society. For instance, in Peru’s San Martin region, Ecosia has planted sustainable forests in deforested areas which were illegally being used for cocaine production. In Borneo, Indonesia, and Sumatra, productive tree species are being planted to create economic alternatives to palm oil and secure the existence of the orangutan dependent on these palm forests.

While the plantation movement is helping to restore a river in Ghana, it is restoring the coastal mangrove forests in the island nation of Madagascar.

Wangari Maathai from Kenya had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for launching the green belt movement which empowers lesser privileged rural women while conserving the local biodiversity. Ecosia is proudly partnering with the renowned organisation and creating better lives for these marginal women.

Efforts For Good take

Planting a tree has probably never been so easy. Anyone from any part of the world can now plant a tree with just a few clicks, without having to spend a single dime. Ecosia is the perfect futuristic antidote to the modern civilisation which is ruining the ecological balance of our precious earth. Efforts For Good urges all their readers to start using Ecosia today and make the world greener.

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MyStory: “Two Months After I Joined IIT For My PhD I Was Diagnosed With TB”

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A person suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) not only battles the ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ bacteria inside his lungs but also from the stigma attached to the disease. It weakens the patients in many different ways in their fight against the dreaded disease.  

My fight with TB was also filled with stigma. I joined IIT Kharagpur for my PhD in January 2015. Two months later, in March 2015, I was diagnosed with TB. I had to take sick leave from March 2015 that eventually lasted till June 2016. Initially, I did not respond well to medication. Further tests revealed that I had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). This meant that the type of TB I had was resistant to two or more of the antitubercular medication I was taking.

About a year after the intensive phase of my treatment, I felt better and applied for readmission to IIT in July 2016. A prerequisite for rejoining was that my faculty members had to verify my application. With the formalities completed, I resumed my education, but I felt that something was amiss. 

My guide indicated that he did not want his work to suffer on account of my illness. I also heard from a senior colleague that my guide had said that I would spread the disease like an ‘infested animal’. I was disheartened at being subjected to this indignity by my supposed mentor.

However, my primary concern was defeating TB, so I didn’t dwell on it. Today, as I reflect on it, I realise the reasons behind the stigma were ignorance as well as fear.

Even among the educated, there are misconceptions about TB. People think all forms of TB are contagious. Others believe the patient is infectious for the entire length of the treatment. Some even believe that TB spreads through touch. This breeds the fear of contracting the illness.

As we know, people stigmatise and discriminate when they fear. I felt the impact of the stigma on two levels – in my professional life and my personal life.

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Professionally, the reluctance of my supervisor to mentor me and his discouragement affected me. I could not decide whether I should wait for the IIT authorities to tell me to leave or drop out. That decision was made for me by luck when I found out that my CSIR grant application was never processed. 

This meant that I would have to pay for my education. Given the expenditure on my treatment, this was unaffordable for me. This was the final nail in the coffin. I was forced to drop out and could not go back to completing my PhD.

What I faced was not technically illegal. I was discouraged from doing my PhD, but it was still a form of stigma. The external stigma I faced led to depression and isolation. 

Eventually, I realised I had to fight. The treatment for TB is difficult, requiring strict compliance and the management of side effects, and these demands resolve. I began motivating myself. I began following a proper diet and completing my treatment to ensure I could recover. I also turned to books as they transported me to other worlds and helped with my isolation. I also focused on reviving my old relationships.

Gradually, things improved. I could not proceed on my desired career path, but I am an educator now. I constantly realise that I have a role to play in shaping young minds. 

Workplace stigma has tangible consequences. It affects an individual’s career, financial opportunities and their right to work with dignity. So what can we do to address this stigma? 

First, we need to sensitise people by educating them about TB, and the impact stigma has on patients.

Another measure is group counselling involving the patient, the employer and the immediate supervisor. Informal versions of these sessions happen in the workplace in the context of illnesses like cancer. Why should it be any different for TB? 

The goal of this session would be to ensure that the patient is in a supportive environment. 

Finally, at a systemic level, there needs to be a workplace policy on stigma mitigation and a mechanism where the patients can anonymously register their concerns about stigma at the workplace.

A person’s career or job is often their calling and a provider of financial security. Workplace stigma creates a hostile work environment, affecting a person’s ability to do their job and their financial security. Financial insecurity and stigma make it harder for the patient to fight TB both in terms of means and motivation. Therefore, addressing stigma in the workplace is critical to patient well-being and recovery but also to their right to work with dignity.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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