Frequently asked questions

General

What is Ecosia and why should I use it?

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees. You can search and shop the web with Ecosia to help reforest the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy’s “Plant a Billion Trees” program. Ecosia's web search is also completely CO2 neutral. To learn more about Ecosia, please visit this page.

How do I set Ecosia as my default search engine?

It’s super easy: just follow the few simple steps listed here.

Who is behind Ecosia?

The search engine Ecosia belongs to Berlin-based Ecosia GmbH, which is a German social business owned by Christian Kroll. To learn more about the folks behind the scenes, have a look here.

How can I support Ecosia?

For starters, you can set Ecosia as your default search engine. After that, you can help spread the word about Ecosia with any or all of these fine activities. Thanks in advance!

How much money does Ecosia earn? How much does it donate?

Ecosia has two main sources of income, EcoLinks and EcoAds. We give 80 percent of what we earn from EcoAds and EcoLinks to the "Plant a Billion Trees" program. At the moment, this amounts to roughly $2,700 per day.

For proof of Ecosia's donations to the Plant a Billion Trees program, please have a look here.

The remaining 20% of Ecosia's income is used to neutralize the CO2 emissions of Ecosia's web search. In addition, this income also helps us pay our bills as well as keeping Ecosia running and growing.

What has changed with the new version of Ecosia?

In August 2013, we launched a new version of Ecosia. The biggest changes are the redesign to Ecosia's interface, and the partnership with The Nature Conservancy's "Plant A Billion Trees" program. You can now even keep track of how many trees you have planted with Ecosia. For more information about the changes, please check out this blog post.

Search

Where do your search results come from?

Ecosia's search results are mainly powered by Yahoo. In addition, we’ve also developed our own algorithms to improve the search experience even further with features such as search tags or EcoLinks. We also use third-party search technologies like Wikipedia and Bing.

What are search tags?

Ecosia search tags give you quick access to external search functions such as images, maps and YouTube. To use them, just enter your search term as usual with the tag at the end. For example, if you enter “Berlin #maps” into the Ecosia search box, you’ll get Google Maps results for the term “Berlin”. To learn more about Ecosia search tags, watch this video.

How does Ecosia handle search and data privacy?

One of Ecosia’s goals is to be a 100% data-private search engine. We believe that an individual’s personal data, including their search queries, are their own business and no one else's.

But the policies of our independent partners may differ from our own, which limits our ability to make promises regarding privacy. We are still required to send some personal data (e.g. your IP address or browser type) to our search partner Yahoo, who may analyze this data. Regardless, we promise to continue improving Ecosia's privacy situation whenever and where ever possible. For a complete rundown of Ecosia's most current privacy policy, please have a look here.

EcoLinks & EcoAds

What are EcoAds?

In some cases, Ecosia displays search ads above the normal search results. These ads are text links to websites (i.e. businesses), which pay for each click by users. The ads are delivered to you by Yahoo, who pay Ecosia a share of the revenue generated via these ads. Ecosia then uses 80 percent of this income to plant trees. To learn more about EcoAds please watch this video.

Can I support Ecosia by randomly clicking on EcoAds?

Thanks, but don't do it. You should only click on search ads in which you are genuinely interested: arbitrary clicks could harm the advertiser and possibly even Ecosia. There are also algorithms active, which are designed to detect fake clicks and invalidate them.

What are EcoLinks and how do they work?

With Ecosia EcoLinks, you help the environment every time you shop online. Just search for your purchase and activate the shop's EcoLink by clicking on it. Up to 5 percent of your purchase is then automatically donated to Ecosia — at no extra cost to you! To learn more about EcoLinks please watch this video.

Can I see how much money was generated from my own EcoLink purchase?

While we do keep track of every purchase made through EcoLinks in order to guarantee that the right amount of provisions end up with Ecosia, we're unable to offer you a personal report about a specific donation generated through any one of your purchases at this time.

Do I have to click through an EcoLink everytime I buy something?

Yes! Please remember that you have to click through the desired EcoLink every time you buy something online to have it count toward Ecosia's income. Otherwise your purchase may be improperly tracked and its donation potential lost.

Does an EcoLink mean the products I’m purchasing are sustainable?

No. EcoLinks work for all kinds of products and services — not just the sustainable ones. The designation EcoLink only means that a share of your purchase is donated to Ecosia.

I don’t see an EcoLink for my purchase. What can I do?

If you’re using Ecosia to search for a particular product and no EcoLinks are appearing, try altering your search terms a bit. Doing so may increase the likelihood of more webshops with EcoLinks showing up.

Let’s say for example you want to buy the book Siddhartha. Instead of just typing “Siddhartha” into the Ecosia search box, you could type the terms “buy book siddhartha” to try for more EcoLinks.

If you aren’t able to find an EcoLink for a particular purchase, no worries: just try again the next time you want to buy something online. We have hundreds of partner shops and are adding more all the time.

I’m a shop owner. What should I know about EcoLinks?

EcoLinks are affiliate links Ecosia displays alongside the search results. An Ecosia-developed algorithm allows us to display the affiliate links most relevant to users’ search queries, giving your business the opportunity to gain more visibility on the search results page — especially when a user searches for a product or service your business offers.

Joining the EcoLink program can help you gain new customers and increase revenue. In addition, you're also supporting a great environmental program from The Nature Conservancy with the provisions you pay to Ecosia. You can even communicate the amount your company has contributed to Ecosia on your website.

To become a part of the EcoLink program, please get in touch with our partners Yieldkit (mostly for German websites) and Skimlinks (all other countries). If you are currently active in the program and want to opt-out, you can contact these companies to do so as well.

Tree Planting & More

What does it mean when you say "You've helped plant X trees"?

The funds generated by Ecosia help to plant about one tree every minute. When you do a search with Ecosia, we display a personalized tree counter, which shows you how many trees you have already helped plant. Rather than showing you how many trees you have planted all on your own, the counter shows you how many times you have contributed to the planting of a new tree based on the Plant a Billion Trees program's calculation of one US dollar per planted tree.

My personal tree counter isn't increasing. What's wrong?

You have probably chosen to search with Google on the Ecosia search page, which does not contribute to the planting of any trees. Read why below.

Why did Ecosia choose to work with The Nature Conservancy to restore the Atlantic Forest?

Ecosia's mission has always been to have the greatest positive impact per Euro (or Dollar) on Earth's environment. Because tropical forests provide several important benefits, including freshwater protection, clean air, crop pollination, wood and food, they are not only some of the most critical ecosystems in the world -- they are also some of the most overwhelmed.

The Plant a Billion Trees campaign was launched by The Nature Conservancy in 2008 to restore Brazil's Atlantic Forest -- which is on the brink of extinction due to pressures of urban expansion, agriculture, ranching and illegal logging. This unprecedented major restoration initiative will reforest 1 million acres and connect more than a million acres of forest remnants, creating new forest corridors to improve the resilience of this critical and degraded ecosystem.

The effect will be improvements to important watersheds that provide clean drinking water and hydroelectricity to millions of people, plus protection for thousands of species of native plants and animals. On a global scale, the trees planted by the campaign will capture atmospheric carbon equivalent to the emissions of one million cars every year.

How will The Nature Conservancy go about reforestation?

The Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees approach uses the best available science to ensure its efforts result in viable ecosystems and sustainable, high quality habitats. Some of the strategies employed include:

  • Creating enormous forest corridors using several strategies including economic incentives for conservation, creation and protection of protected areas, large-scale reforestation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Improving the health of key watersheds to secure the water supply for millions of people.
  • Planting tree seeds and saplings to initiate the process of recovery and enrichment in degraded areas, increasing the diversity and density of native trees. Planting tree seeds and saplings to initiate the process of recovery and enrichment degraded areas, increasing the diversity and density of native trees.
  • Assisting natural regeneration — creating enabling conditions for seedlings to naturally germinate and grow. This strategy can include the fencing of sensitive areas to prevent damage by cattle, installing barriers to reduce the spread of fire, and installing perches for birds and bats that spread seeds — to accelerate natural forest regeneration in areas that do not require plantings.
  • Working with landowners and their associations to facilitate compliance with environmental laws.
  • Supporting the development of carbon sequestration projects that make conservation sense and can co-finance reforestation activities.
  • Supporting the development of policies around payment for ecosystem services to improve the engagement of landowners in restoration projects.
  • Building a strong coalition with a diverse range of partners.

Of the donations that Ecosia makes to the Conservancy, 90% are directly forwarded to the Plant A Billion Trees program. The remaining 10% are used by the Conservancy to cover any costs, including direct and indirect costs of implementing, administering and marketing related to the general mission of the Conservancy.

How do you neutralize a search's CO2 emissions?

Ecosia neutralizes all CO2 emissions related to an Ecosia web search. To offset our emissions, we use a Gold-Standard project in Madagascar run by our partner myclimate.