This post is generously sponsored by Ecosia, a service that I’ve been using personally for a year and am thrilled to recommend. As always, EcoCult only partners with companies we believe are doing good things. Support Ecocult by supporting them!
Calling someone a tree hugger sounds so antiquated. Like, hello, environmentalists do more than just hug trees! We shop smart, recycle, ride our bikes and walk, and do so many other dozens of actions in a day.
But actually, I’m beginning to come back around to the term, because loving trees – and planting them – seems to be even more effective at stopping climate change than fretting over whether to buy the locally-grown apple or organic apple.
I’m sure you know this, but depending on what you do with them, trees are an important factor in either fighting or exacerbating climate change. Healthy growing trees suck CO2 out of the air and store it in their leaves, branches and trunks. When that biomass goes to the ground, it’s eaten by animals and organisms, and incorporated into the soil. Tropical forests can sequester up to a fifth of all human carbon emissions, that is, if we leave them be. But logging and clear-cutting has led to rainforests emitting more carbon than they store, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
And it’s about more than just carbon sequestration. Trees support biodiversity, prevent erosion and desertification, clean the air of pollutants, provide food and a livelihood for over 1.6 billion people around the world, help mitigate and prevent droughts and floods, and just make us happier when we’re around them. Have you heard of forest bathing?
So, how can you get more trees out there? There are plenty of organizations to donate to. Or you could go buy a tree and plant it. But I’ve got a much
lazier easier and cheaper way for you to prevent climate change, right at home:
Change your search browser.
Tip, Tap, Plant a Tree
Ecosia is a search browser that sends 80% of its profits to tree planting programs. You install the browser and make it your default. Every time you search, Ecosia earns money from search ads. Then, they send 80% of that money to organizations that are planting trees. (You can see their monthly financial reports here.)
In Indonesia, Ecosia is working on planting 10 different productive tree species as an alternative to the palm oil industry. In Nicaragua, they are working with a local organization to reforest the slopes of volcanoes to prevent erosion, and provide additional water and subsistence sources to villagers. In Tanzania, a diversity hotspot in which a third of its animal life is found nowhere else on the planet, Ecosia is working with villagers on a combination of eco-tourism, agro-forestry, and rainforest reforestation. In Burkina Faso, they are working with a local organization to stem rapid desertification. In Peru, they are working with a local organization to convert land that was deforested to grow coca (as in cocaine) into coffee and cacao farms.
Here’s a really inspirational story about how planting forests helps people in so many ways:
They’ve already planted over 16.8 million trees, in fact!
So, how does it work? Well, Ecosia built on top of the search engine Bing. (Which is a point in its favor in my book, since I’m getting increasingly nervous about how much Google knows about me. Let me have at least my privacy when it comes to my searches, thanks.) And I can say with confidence that it works great! I’ve been using Ecosia for over a year. I would say that about once every three months, it stops working for a few minutes, so I go to Google. But I have absolutely no desire to switch back to Google. In fact, I used Ecosia to research this article. As a journalist, I’m always researching on the web for good resources and require a robust search engine, and Ecosia has been great.
So, if you’re lazy but want to save the world, install the plug-in and get to planting.