At the start of term, on Monday the 27th of January, Leeds will have become the first Russell Group University to install the ‘Ecosia’ search engine across all campus computers.
Following a successful student-run campaign last year, the proposal to make Ecosia campus’s default search engine was passed at a Better University Forum at the end of the last academic year.
Ecosia is built on a social enterprise business model, generating its revenue from ads and directing over 80% of its profits (approx. 47% of income) straight to nonprofit organisations focused on reforestation projects.
Over its 10 year history, Ecosia’s now 15 million active users have planted over 82 million trees and counting – contributing to projects in the Amazon, Tanzania, Kenya, Spain and many others.
As the home to 34 000 and 8 000 staff, if even as few as 6000 people used a Leeds University campus computer to make 3 searches a day, this could equate to 400 trees planted every day by the University and 18 000 kilograms of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. An Ecosia app is also available to download to further increase contributions from individual devices.
Hugh Kendall is a second year student who helped run the successful campaign last year. He tells me; ‘After campaigning for 14 months, we are really excited about Ecosia finally being brought to our campus. I receive monthly emails tracking the number of trees planted by the University of Leeds (excluding personal mobile searches). In the first 3 days of this week, the Leeds Uni tree counter rose by 445, and I only expect this to increase as the roll-out continues.’
‘At the start of the campaign, Ecosia had only planted 42 million and since then it has almost doubled which shows the rapid pace at which the search engine is continuing to gain traction – something Leeds University students will now get to be a part of.’
Not only is your search making a positive contribution to valuable reforestation efforts, but you can also be confident that Ecosia isn’t going to hoard your data or start selling on your search history. All Ecosia searches are encrypted – meaning they are not stored permanently, nor is data sold to any third-party advertisers either.
While fires continue to rage in Australia and the Amazon, the role of social enterprises like Ecosia in picking up the slack where governments are failing to act fast enough is becoming increasingly vital. Last Thursday, Ecosia promised to donate 100% of the day’s profits to a reforestation project in New South Wales – which will lead to the planting of 26 446 new trees. The afforestation will help to restore what has been lost in the tragic events of the last few months and making the area more resilient to fires in the future.
The work done by student-campaigning is a really exciting chance for our University campus to bring awareness to a worthwhile cause and increase our campus’s contribution to exciting and productive change.
So what are you waiting for? Get searching!
*Check out the ‘Leeds on Ecosia’ Facebook page to track the progress!*