The easiest way to reduce CO2 with your computer right now

12th Apr, 2023 | green

It's hard to ignore the constant stream of news about our negative impact on our environment, and we are often left feeling helpless to do anything about it. I don't have the wealth to buy a rainforest to protect it, or have political or business influence to cut investment in fossil fuels.

So what can I do?

I know I cannot fix anything overnight but I'm a great believer that every tiny effort in the right direction counts, and if enough do the same it can add up to something really significant.

Recently I found such a "tiny effort". It's the most unlikely thing, but so easy to do!

The search is on

I think it's fair to say the most people with a computer or smart phone know how to "search the internet". Even the term "googling" has found its way into popular culture, appearing in films and TV shows. Some of us will be doing these searches multiple times per day. For me my day job often requires it, and it will not be a single search but a "session" of investigation through multiple searches.

I've been using google, which I consider to be the main one and the majority of people I know also use it. It's ubiquitous in the world of search. To many it's the only way to search.

There are other search engines available but there is rarely a good reason to switch...until now.

Is there another way?

I was recently introduced to a search engine called Ecosia

Their ethos is beautifully simple:

  • You search the web with Ecosia
  • Search ads (like any search) generate income for Ecosia
  • Ecosia uses this income to plant trees

I have been using it for the last couple of months and I have no intention of switching back. Instead I'm encouraging everyone I meet to also switch because I can only see benefits and no drawbacks.

How do I switch to Ecosia?

They make it so easy. Visit and click on the link to install an extension to your browser. Depending on what browser you have the extension with do the work or there will be some clear instructions on how to setup.

Pro-tip: If you have different browsers on your computer follow this process for all of them. For example I did this for both Chrome and Safari.

Is it any good at searching?

This is the big question, and of course it's a "deal breaker".

The short answer is yes, it's really good!

At first I didn't notice any difference in the results I was getting, which is a good thing! Sure, there are slight style differences, but I immediately felt comfortable and confident using the service for all types of searches.

How do I know if it is as good as my previous search service?

If your search results don't come up with the answers you are looking for you might have a nagging feeling that your previous search service could have the thing you are looking for.

Ecosia have already anticipated this and provided a really neat solution. At the top of the search results is a toolbar allowing you to switch the theme of the results to images, shopping, news, videos, maps, etc. At the end of this toolbar is a "More" button.

Pressing the more button provides a list of alternative services to use, and if you click them it opens a new page with the search done with that service.

I occasionally use this feature but most of the time the other search services do not provide anything better, so I'm confident Ecosia is doing a good job.

How many trees do I help plant?

The counter on the Ecosia homepage is constantly updating, and suggests someone is planting a tree every second of the day due to the funding from Ecosia. I expect the planting is actually done in batches every few weeks instead, but having this counter constantly updating in small increments instead of occassionally updating in large increments is a good constant reminder that the Ecosia community is collectively making a difference.

You can also see your personal contribution to this figure. In the top right corner is a nice icon of a tree with a number. This represents how many trees have or will be planted from the ad revenue from your searches made with the service. I try not to think of this as gamification - I don't want to grind away making pointless searches just to increase this number. Instead, I see it as a subtle reminder why I switched to Ecosia and why there is no reason to switch to something else.


So far Ecosia is telling me I have helped plant 6 trees, which is just from normal searches I have done for work or general searches for personal stuff.

I already think that is a great achievement, and other than pressing the button to switch it has required zero effort from me.

I encourage you to give it go now!