Thanks to AU employees’ online searches, 200 trees have been planted

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Three PhD students at the Department of Agroecology in Foulum encourage their colleagues and fellow students to use the Ecosia search machine, which spends the profits from advertising revenues on planting trees all over the world. 200 trees have already been planted thanks to searches performed by AU folk.

2020.03.06 | Marie Groth Andersen

Ph.d.-studerende Cecilie Kobek-Kjeldager (left) with postdoc Faye Tahamtani. Cecilie Kobek-Kjeldager now heads the initiative together with Loraine ten Damme and Saghar Khodadad Motarjemi, both PhD students at the Department of Agroecology; Faye Tahamtani has taken a new job in Sweden. Photo: AU Foulum on Ecosia

How Ecosia works

Ecosia is a search machine like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Ecosia spends profits from ad revenues (from clicks on ads, ed.) to plant trees around the world. These trees help fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Ecosia claims to be a transparent, negative emissions and privacy-friendly company: they publish their accounts every month and use servers that run on renewable energy. And they don’t sell their users’ data to advertisers, create profiles based on user searches and encrypt searches.

Ecosia was founded by Christian Kroll, a German, in 2009.

AU Foulum on Ecosia

The AU Foulum on Ecosia campaign was started by a postdoc and three PhD students from AU’s Foulum campus. They are encouraging their colleagues and fellow students at AU to use Ecosia as a search machine.

 

So they can follow how many trees get planted as a result of searches from AU, they encourage you to use this link when downloading Ecosia to your smartphone or computer:

According to AU IT, the university doesn’t have any preference with regards to what search machine employees and students use.

Cecilie Kobek-Kjeldager, a PhD student at the Department of Animal Science, heard about the Ecosia search machine for the first time last September from postdoc Faye Tahamtani, a colleague of hers, who’s used it for years. Ecosia is a search machine that spends the profits generated by clicks on ads on planting trees, which help remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Ecosia also uses renewable energy to operate its servers. 

The two colleagues agreed that Ecosia was a great opportunity to make a small difference for the planet, and decided to start spreading the word about the search machine at AU with a campaign called AU Foulum on Ecosia.

Since them, they’ve given talks about Ecosia, handed out flyers, set up an infostand in the cafeteria and a Facebook group., as well as meeting with AU’s sustainability network to raise awareness of the search machine, which has already planted 85 million trees in South America, Africa and elsewhere. 

“We just made it to 200 trees that have been planted thanks to AU searches on the internet,” Kobek-Kjeldager says. She now heads the initiative together with Loraine ten Damme and Saghar Khodadad Motarjemi, both PhD students at the Department of Agroecology; Faye Tahamtani has taken a new job in Sweden.

The three activists don’t have stats on how many AU students and employees use Ecosia. But they can check how many searches have been made by users who have downloaded Ecosia via the link ecosia.co/AUFoulum and how many trees Ecosia has planted for the advertising revenue from these searches. 

Is this the real deal?

A question Kobek-Kjeldager often gets is whether Ecosia is above board. 

“Ecosia publishes their accounts every month, which show how much they’ve earned from ads, how much they’ve spent on salaries and operations and on planting trees. They’re very transparent, but it is a non-profit organisation, so there aren’t so many regulatory requirements. So in that way it’s about trust, and how much you trust them as an organisation,” she explainss.

“I will say that if it’s a scam, it’s a very complex and convincing scam,” she says, pointing out that Ecosia also publishes a lot of material about their projects around the world in addition to their accounts. 

Fewer ads and greater privacy

You can use Ecosia to search the internet in the same way you use Google or any other search machine. Ecosia’s search results are based on Microsoft’s search machine Bing supplemented with Ecosia’s own algorithms. But the user experience is different from Google, for example. 

“There are clear differences: You get fewer ads than with Google. But there are also some things Ecosia can’t do, for example calculate the distance between cities. And it’s not as big as Google. But it’s a place to start your search, and if you don’t get the results you need, you can always use Google,” says  Kobek-Kjeldager, who uses Ecosia both professionally and privately.

She feels that Ecosia’s drawbacks are outweighed by a number of advantages:

“First and foremost, you contribute to tree planting. But Ecosia also protects your privacy much more than Google, which as we know sells your search profile and so on. Ecosia doesn’t do that, and they encrypt your search and delete your search history.” 

A tiny little thing that’s easy to do

One internet user who’s switched to Ecosia because of the campaign is Ilse A. Rasmussen, a researcher at AU’s International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS) in Foulum. She has been using the search machine for four months.

“I switched the same day I heard about the initiative. Just imagine, you can do something positive with just one click! In practice, it’s often hard to live up to my ideals for how I want to do things. For example taking the train to a conference instead of flying. But this is a tiny little thing that’s easy to do.”

She hasn’t experienced major advantages or disadvantages with Ecosia. 

“But I’m happen when I see the heading ‘Search the web to plant trees’ on Ecosia, and when I get information about how many trees have been planted thanks to my searches,”Rasmussen says. 

Spreading the word to the rest of AU 

The organisers of the campaign hope that their colleagues in Foulum – and elsewhere at AU – will embrace Ecosia and start using it as their primary search machine. Their work to promote Ecosia is voluntary, and they receive no form of payment from Ecosia – they’ve even paid for the T-shirts they wear when they give talks.

Translated by Lenore Messick

How Ecosia works

Ecosia is a search machine like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Ecosia spends profits from ad revenues (from clicks on ads, ed.) to plant trees around the world. These trees help fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Ecosia claims to be a transparent, negative emissions and privacy-friendly company: they publish their accounts every month and use servers that run on renewable energy. And they don’t sell their users’ data to advertisers, create profiles based on user searches and encrypt searches.

Ecosia was founded by Christian Kroll, a German, in 2009.

AU Foulum on Ecosia

The AU Foulum on Ecosia campaign was started by a postdoc and three PhD students from AU’s Foulum campus. They are encouraging their colleagues and fellow students at AU to use Ecosia as a search machine.

So they can follow how many trees get planted as a result of searches from AU, they encourage you to use this link when downloading Ecosia to your smartphone or computer:

According to AU IT, the university doesn’t have any preference with regards to what search machine employees and students use.

 

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