Books & Resources

Plant trees locally through rewilding or globally using a green search engine

Fancy planting trees in your local area? Or how about from your own armchair? There’s never been a better time to start because today is Earth Day 2020. Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me tell you a bit about Earth Day and why trees are so fundamental.

Earth Day is led by the Earth Day Network, whose mission is to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide”. It started in 1970 in the USA when 20 million activists mounted large-scale protests against environmental harms. This led to various environmental laws being passed in the USA. Many other countries quickly followed suit. Now it’s an annual event.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is climate action. 2019 was one of the hottest years on record. It’s no secret we’re facing a Climate Emergency.

Climate action and trees go hand-in-hand. To quote the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest conservation charity, trees are the “ultimate carbon catcher and storage machines”. This is because through photosynthesis they absorb and convert carbon dioxide into tree food and release masses of oxygen. Without frees, we’re all screwed. They’re our most powerful weapon against climate change.

It won’t surprise you to hear that the world’s tree population is in rapid and serious decline. Deforestation is at an all-time high. As well as aggravating climate change, it’s destroying the habitats of some of our most precious species. Not only do we need to preserve the trees we have, we also need more.

My first Instagram post for the blog back in early March was a photo I took of some very young trees planted up in a field in front of some established woodland. Those trees were planted in January 2020 as part of my local Council’s rewilding scheme. The aim is to plant 50,000 young trees in the county over the next five years to help with the Council’s pledge to become carbon neutral.

Rewilding is great way to bring communities together. And it helps to engage kids to show them that proactive, tangible steps can be taken locally to improve the world we all live in. If you’re keen to find out more and help out on a rewilding programme near you, check out your local council’s website.

Maybe you’re time poor or can’t find any rewilding nearby. Or perhaps you’d like to do even more day-to-day. If so, have you heard of Ecosia? Set up in 2009, its primary business is a carbon negative search engine. A whopping 80% of profits from user searches are donated to global tree-planting projects. Most of these profits come from user clicks on ads that appear above and beside the search results. A good excuse to get clicking….

Ecosia supports over 20 tree-planting projects in Peru, Brazil, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Haiti, Colombia, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Indonesia. These projects are in 35 “biodiversity hotspots”. They represent just 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface but support more than 50% of the world’s plant species and nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species not found anywhere else on Earth.

Around one tree is planted for every 45 searches you do. But depending on the search ad revenue generated, it may take fewer searches. On average, Ecosia estimates it funds the planting of a new tree every second. And every search removes 1kg of carbon dioxide from the air. Yes!

Every time you run a search, Ecosia records it on your own personal search counter. When you visit Ecosia’s home page, there’s an overall tree planting counter. At the time of posting, this stands at over 91 million trees. The counter moves every second which is fun to see.

Instead of buying renewable energy from existing power plants, Ecosia uses solar panels which generate clean energy. Where there’s surplus energy, Ecosia returns this to its national grid, replacing electricity that would have been generated from fossil fuels.

As for Ecosia’s search performance, I haven’t noticed any material difference. It’s probably not as far-reaching as Google, but what is?

As well as profits from its search engine, Ecosia also has an online store which sells various zero waste clothing and accessories. These are made from GOTS organic cotton in a UK renewable energy powered factory. They’re also printed without any animal derivatives using low waste printing technology. You can trace the sourcing and production journey here. Profits from the sale of these items generates further funding towards Ecosia’s projects. To give you an idea: for every t-shirt sold, 20 trees are planted.

I know I keep going on about how much I love B Corps. A post on that is coming soon…. Ecosia became the first B Corp in Germany in 2014. As with all B Corps, purpose is key and Ecosia has it in bucketloads. In a video on its website, Ecosia’s Founder and CEO says “We’re here because we all want to work on something together and not because we want to make somebody else rich.” Ecosia’s projects have a social impact as well as an environmental impact. It looks after its staff. Employees can visit reforestation projects that Ecosia supports to see for themselves what’s involved. They can also go out to a climate protest at any time during working hours.

If you haven’t tried Ecosia’s search engine yet, why not make it your default search engine on your devices and let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you’re after any environmentally friendly clothing, take a peek in the Ecosia shop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *