With today being World Environment Day, it’s perhaps companies like ourselves in the digital sector that should ask themselves what they can be doing to be kinder to the planet.
At Engage Web, we certainly play our part. We keep printing to a minimum and turn computers and other applications off when they’re not being used. Some of our staff walk or use public transport to get to work, and we allow them to work from home on some days too, cutting CO2 emissions further.
It’s still hard to ignore, though, that all the digital work we’re carrying out produces carbon dioxide. According to a 2009 Harvard University study, even something as innocuous as using a search engine a couple of times can produce as much CO2 as boiling a kettle. With Google alone processing around 3.5bn searches every day, that’s equivalent to making a cup of tea for every single person in the two countries responsible for the most emissions – China and the USA.
One thing we can do to even up some of the harm caused by our internet behaviour is use a search engine that has the environment in mind, like Ecosia.
Based in Germany, Ecosia has a strong partnership with Microsoft Bing. Its results are powered by Bing, but Ecosia says that it adds its own algorithms into the mix as well. What’s truly unique about Ecosia though is that the more people use it, the greater the benefits to the environment.
On the Ecosia homepage, it’s proudly announced that the community behind the search engine plants a tree every seven seconds. What’s more, it donates 80% of its profits to environment-focused non-profits.
The search results it brings up are not too bad either. A search for ‘Engage Web’ brings up our site first, after a couple of ads that are not as clearly labelled as ads as on Google. Perhaps that’s understandable as a company so focused on environmental concerns is likely to be dependent on those advertisers who support it.
For just one day at least, it might not be a bad idea to give Google a break and turn to Ecosia for all your search needs. Although Donald Trump may try to deny it, a World Economic Forum survey concluded that climate change is the biggest threat to humanity in 2017. We can’t change that on our own, but any small steps we can take can only help – especially on World Environment Day.