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Green search engines: This is how you “google” without affecting the climate

Alternative search engines look for green products and information or offer more privacy than alternatives to Google. We provide an overview of green search engines: from Ecosia and Gexsi to Treeday and Codecheck.

Anyone who enters a search query on the Internet "googles". The search engine Google of the omnipresent Internet company Alphabet has a market share of over 90 percent in Germany. There are alternatives, however, that not only deliver good search results, but also make a contribution to environmental and climate protection.

Ecosia - the search engine planting trees

Ecosia is like Google - with the exception that 80 percent of the generated revenue surpluses are donated to non-profit nature conservation organisations. On average, 45 (organic) search queries lead to one tree being planted. Search results and ads are based on Bing (Microsoft) search technology. The objective of the website, launched in 2009, was to raise funds for the WWF and thus finance a conservation programme in the Amazon. Over time, Ecosia has become the most important green search engine in Europe, planting nearly 50 million trees to date and the first German company to be awarded the “B Corporation” certificate for its social business model.

According to its own information, Ecosia operates all its servers with 100% Greenpeace Energy green electricity, with the exception of the search operations on Bing's servers. To offset this, Ecosia buys CO2 certificates from myclimate. So, when you use Ecosia, you google without affecting the climate.

The principle of the Ecosia green search engine

The principle of Ecosia is simple. Like Google, Ecosia ads are displayed next to search results. As soon as one of these ads is clicked, Ecosia receives a share of the advertising revenue generated by Bing. According to Ecosia, the search engine generates 0.5 cents per search; planting a tree costs about 20 cents. In the meantime, more than 80 percent of the profits generated are invested in tree planting projects around the world. Apart from reforestation projects in Brazil's Atlantic rainforest, revenues have been donated and trees planted for WeForest's "Greening the desert" project in Burkina Faso since October 2014.

Also: Even if using Google, you already surf very environmentally-friendly: The company obtains part of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The Greenpeace report “Clicking Clean” rated Google “A” (highest rating), Microsoft Bing and Yahoo were awarded “B”.

What other alternatives are there?

Besides the green search engine Ecosia, there are other sustainable search engines and directories such as Gexsi, TREEDAY or Codecheck, which can be used as an alternative to Google or for specific sustainable topics.

GEXSI: Web search with a meaning

  • Gexsi donates 100% of its search revenue. In addition, the providers emphasise the importance of high data protection standards and operate their web servers in a CO2-neutral manner. Unlike Ecosia, the search engine launched in 2018 is based on Google search technology. It supports specific social entrepreneurship projects. The company states that it selects these projects according to whether they contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Gexsi has also been certified as a B-Corporation.

CODECHECK: Product search engine for ingredients

  • is a product search engine that evaluates products according to their ingredients and examines them in more detail. Questions such as "What are the additives in this product?" or "Is the product vegan?" are answered by this search engine, also available as an app. Unsafe ingredients are marked in red and harmless ones in green. A nutritional traffic light warns the consumer of fat and sugar.

TREEDAY: The green lifestyle guide

  • With the sustainable business directory, you can find sustainable companies in your immediate vicinity via an interactive map - whether hotels, restaurants, grocery stores or fashion shops. The map provides detailed information on the sustainability profile of the identified providers. You can also track and improve your sustainable lifestyle after registering with the community.