|Editor's Review Costs & Features User Reviews|
We have awarded Ecosia our prestigious Silver Award in this category, having reviewed 16 Charitable Search Engines. Read our review below to find out why...
Editor's Star Ratings:
|Overall Star Rating:|
Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees! Launched in 2009, Ecosia is possibly the longest running and best known of all our listed charitable search engines. Ecosia donates around 80% of its profits to tree planting projects, which not only plant trees, but also provide vital income to the workers who plant the trees in the world's poorest places. Trees tend to be planted in South America, Africa and Indonesia, where the cost of planting trees is lower.
For a larger range of charities and a superior search experience, we recommend SearchScene over Ecosia.
Unlike many of our other charitable search engines, many of which let you choose which charities you want to support, German-based Ecosia is all about one thing - planting trees! In the 10 years since Ecosia was launched, it has planted over 87 million trees. That is a staggering number of trees! The trees are of course planted as saplings, so do not think fully-grown trees here. But all trees must start somewhere and most of those saplings will, in time, become fully-grown trees.
Ecosia work with local partners on the ground to help them plant trees, providing a vital income source to farmers and others who help plant the trees. The types of trees that Ecosia plant vary from place to place. They will normally try to plant species that were native to the areas of deforestation. This gives them the best chance of success in that area. You can read more about Ecosia's tree planting projects here - https://blog.ecosia.org/where-why-how-does-ecosia-plant-trees/.
Ecosia provide a search counter at the top right of each page, which gives you a running tally of the number of searches you've made. This total is stored in a cookie on your device and so is device specific, meaning that if you start using Ecosia on another device then your search counter will start at zero. However, Ecosia are rolling out a login feature that will enable you to create an account and synchronize your search counter between all your devices (as long as you log in on all your devices, of course). The search counter is a nice way of keeping track of your contribution to the reforestation of the world, however having the counter next to an icon of a tree initially made us think that the counter was the number of trees we had planted. It was only after we clicked on it that we realized that actually, you need to make around 45 searches to plant one tree - so the counter needed to reach 45 to equal one sapling planted.
Ecosia are completely transparent about their earnings and tree-planting contributions, publishing monthly earnings directly on their site here - https://blog.ecosia.org/ecosia-financial-reports-tree-planting-receipts/.
The user experience you get from Ecosia is similar to that you get from Google, with its blank (or at least, largely blank) homepage which loads quickly. The search box provides autosuggestions as you type, as is the case with Google, Bing and many of the charitable search engines we've reviewed in this category. The search results are provided by Bing, giving you up to the minute results and rich-content embedded within your search results. This includes images, videos and news items relevant to your search query, all of which have thumbnails that are loaded in a carousel in the same vain as Google and Bing. The right side of the main search results often includes a Wikipedia topic summary, if it's relevant to your search query. Above this Wikipedia topic summary, you will often find a gallery of relevant image thumbnails although, strangely, Ecosia consistently seem to do a fairly good job of chopping the heads off anyone who appears in these images!
As with Google or Bing, Ecosia provide search tabs for images, videos and news. Click on the images tab and a gallery of thumbnail images for your search query will be displayed. Click on an individual image for an expanded view. So far, this is all much the same as you would expect from Google and Bing.
Click on the videos tab to reveal video results for your search query. This is presented Google-style in the form of a list of 10 videos with medium-sized thumbnails. For our money, we preferred the Bing-style video results where the videos are all presented in a gallery of 50 videos per page, all displayed with large thumbnails (this is also the approach adopted by SearchScene, our #1 rated charity search engine). Click on a video to be taken directly to the website where the video is hosted.
Ecosia also offer a News tab, for the latest news (again, presented as a list of the top 10 news items, complete with thumbnails), and also a Maps tab, which, when clicked, gives you the option of Google Maps or Bing Maps. It makes sense that Ecosia didn't try and re-invent the wheel here with their own maps version and instead linked to some established sites.
As with SearchScene's !Snaps feature, Ecosia offer shortcuts to some popular destinations, such as Google, Amazon, Youtube and Wikipedia. These are available by clicking on the "More" tab above Ecosia's search results. They are also available, along with a whole host of other shortcuts, by using the shortcut syntax of adding # followed by an abbreviation before or after your search term, e.g. adding #a after your search query will send you straight to Amazon, adding #yt after your search query will send you directly to Youtube, and so on. You can view Ecosia's complete range of supported shortcuts here - https://ecosia.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201657321-What-are-search-tags-.
Speed & Reliability:
By using AWS (Amazon Web Services) as their web host, Ecosia ensure that they are blazingly fast. Since AWS is a cloud-based host, your search queries will be delivered from the hub that's nearest to you. AWS is also extremely reliable, meaning that Ecosia will always be online and will always be able to handle any volume of search traffic.
Ecosia's eco-credentials are probably the best there are!
Ecosia's eco-credentials are probably the best there are! As with SearchScene, they use AWS for web hosting. AWS uses 84% less energy than most web hosts and use a number of renewable energy sources to power their servers and data-centers, including wind energy, solar energy and geothermal energy. At the time of writing, AWS are able to provide 50% of their energy needs via renewable methods, but are committed to becoming 100% powered by renewable energy in the near term. Meanwhile, Bing, who power Ecosia's search results, are already carbon neutral. In addition to this, Ecosia own a couple of solar farms of their own, which they use to offset their own carbon footprint and offset the fact that AWS (at the time of writing, at least) is not 100% carbon neutral. This means that Ecosia can now feed enough renewable energy into the grid to power all of the searches you make on the site. In fact, Ecosia advertise themselves as more than carbon neutral.
Don't forget that Ecosia's entire purpose is to plant trees, and as a tree-planting search engine, Ecosia are in fact helping to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Ecosia offer browser extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers. Installing the browser extensions will set Ecosia as your default search engine in your browser's search box. Ecosia also offer iOS and Android Apps. The Apps basically work as a web browser with Ecosia set as the homepage. Tabs at the bottom link to Ecosia's latest project information and latest news. Ecosia state that their apps do not store your searches.
Ecosia offer browser extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Ecosia's mission is to plant 1 billion trees! This is a truly admirable goal and on that front, we cannot fault them. If planting trees is your thing, then Ecosia is definitely worth a try. As far as their search engine is concerned, they do a very good job of displaying and enhancing Bing's search results. With browser extensions and apps available, Ecosia have also made it really easy for you to execute your searches on their search engine. Google users may miss some of the instant answers and rich knowledge-panel features that Google provide, such as information and thumbnails for books, movies, albums, etc., that Google provide within their knowledge panel, but Ecosia does at least provide rich content within its main search results. With separate tabs for image searches, video searches and news searches, Ecosia will provide you with most of what you've come to expect from Google or Bing. However, for a larger range of charities and a superior search experience, we recommend SearchScene over Ecosia.
If you're an existing Ecosia user or you're torn between Ecosia and SearchScene, you can find a detailed description of some of the main differences between Ecosia and SearchScene here, along with screenshots that show you clearly why SearchScene is a better search engine.
Click on the button below to check out Ecosia.org for yourself...