In the past month, the student-led campaign ‘Royal Holloway on Ecosia’ has successfully managed to convert our university to Ecosia, a search engine that uses its income from ads to fund tree planting projects. To date, over 115 million trees have been planted worldwide (as of 14th December 2020) as a result of those who use Ecosia. With the campaign now adding Royal Holloway to the list of contributors to the project, we have to recognise this tremendous achievement by some of our students!
Ecosia began in 2009 in Germany after the founder, Christian Kroll, experienced the issues of deforestation around the world. The main focus of Ecosia is to plant trees in areas that need reforesting – such as restoring the watersheds in Brazil, where the first trees were planted by the company. The company has plenty of projects worldwide, including planting trees in the grounds near to NHS hospitals in the UK.
The company generates money through the adverts that appear when you surf the web through their search engine. This is the same way that Google generates money, but Ecosia donates 80% of its profits to its tree projects rather than lining some billionaire’s pockets.
Ecosia’s servers are actually ‘carbon negative’ as the solar power they run on actually removes more carbon dioxide than they produce. Also, Ecosia doesn’t track your data like some other search engines!
Trees are one of the best solutions to combating climate change. Although reducing the amount of emissions and reliance on fossil fuels would be a good place to start, replanting forests and providing the earth with its lungs will help to improve our environment rather than simply halt its detriment. Not simply this, but trees are natural and beautiful, so there is no chance of them being eyesores on our landscapes. The deforestation occurring worldwide, particularly in places like the Amazon, are causing unprecedented amounts of animal extinction and habitat destruction. Through Ecosia’s projects, reforestation will bring back these habitats and allow animals to return to nature. One example of this is the reforestation Ecosia is carrying out in Uganda, where locals help to plant the trees, preserving and creating the environment for chimps in the area.
It is incredible that Royal Holloway has now made the switch on our campus PCs and is helping contribute to this company. So, I got to asking the team some questions.
- So, when did you start the campaign, and how easy was it for you to set up?
We started the Royal Holloway on Ecosia campaign in November 2019. Setting up the campaign involved finding like-minded students who were interested in joining the team and who were willing to spread awareness of the many benefits received from switching to the Ecosia search engine. Starting was one of the easier aspects of the campaign as we’re truly passionate about the movement. After we had a team together it was simply a matter of registering our campaign with the Student’s Union and setting up our social media. The more challenging aspect involved getting the university fully onboard with the campaign and receiving enough support from the right people to actually make the switch happen. What people don’t see is all the work that goes on behind the scenes to spread the word and organise events, especially all the emails!
- Have you had any support from other university campaigns for switching to Ecosia?
- We recently attended a video call with a university in Sweden to introduce and inspire them to join the ‘Ecosia on Campus’ campaigners.
- We are looking to continue our collaborations with other campaigns; most recently we’ve been working with a university in Spain.
- We support other campaigns by following them on our social media and it was lovely to get to know some of them during the Summer lockdown when we attended an ‘Ecosia on Campus’ video call.
- What inspired you to start the campaign?
The moment I discovered the company, I was blown away by the worldwide good that they achieve and the huge benefits of planting trees! From purifying our atmosphere to supporting livelihoods, biodiversity and restoring barren land to thriving ground, the impact of trees reaches far beyond just the environment!
- Do you have any other projects in mind for helping Royal Holloway be more sustainable?
Our team will continue to spread the word about all the positive things Ecosia do and we hope to be able to organise more events for students once it is safe to do so. As always, we will encourage students and staff to download Ecosia onto their personal devices using our URL so that they can add their internet searches to our tree-tracker.
Students can switch to Ecosia on their devices using the link https://ecosia.co/RoyalHolloway. This way we can see exactly how many trees have been planted by students and staff members at Royal Holloway.
It doesn’t take much to switch, and I’m sure you won’t even notice much of a difference, but the impact this small change in your lifestyle will have on the planet is astounding. Get involved – make the switch too!
You can follow the campaign on Facebook and Instagram.