If you are like any other college student, you are probably aware of climate change and the detrimental problems it may cause if no further action is taken. You might have seen Greta Thunberg's speech and felt angry about the lack of action from previous generations, or maybe you witnessed the aftermath of the Australia and California wildfires and discovered these tragedies could be prevented through improved environmental practices. Even with all of these factors, you are still being held back by one thing: money.
College students are stereotypically poor, but this is magnified due to the pandemic that has hit many jobs worked by students. If you are already struggling to pay your rent or to plan somewhat healthy meals for the week, the last thing on your mind is donating to an organization that you saw on an Instagram influencer's page who makes crazy amounts of money by the post. On top of that, how can you be sure that what you are donating will actually go to the people, animals, or land that needs it most?
Here's where my solution comes in: Ecosia. Ecosia is a search engine that you can download which uses the ad revenue from your searches to plant trees. That means your random searches about how old Andy Samberg is (can you believe he is only 41??) or how to cut your own bangs (do not recommend this unless you have someone to help you) will go to planting trees where they are needed most such as Peru, Colombia, and Malawi. You can even see how many trees you have planted as a result of your searches in the top right corner of your screen when you search.
Another great thing about Ecosia is its transparency; they understand that not all companies who claim to support the environment do so to their fullest extent, so their solution is to release their records on their blog monthly. These records break down how much is going to where in order to build trust and ensure that you understand how the company works. Not 100% of the profit goes to planting trees in order to pay their employees, pay for operational costs, and invest in other environmentally conscious avenues such as solar panels.
I have been using Ecosia for about a year now, and there is only one small inconvenience. Sometimes when I go to search for images, they do not have the widest selection of choices. However, I find this a very small flaw in the grand scheme of the search engine given that I don't search for images that often and when I do need one, I can easily get back to my search engine to find an image.
The best part about Ecosia? It costs you absolutely nothing and takes at most five minutes to set up on all your devices. That's right, you can have Ecosia on your phone as well as your computer to maximize tree planting. Literally all you have to do is search Ecosia in your normal search engine and it will direct you how to add the extension to your browser.
This may sound too good to be true, but I assure you that it is legitimate. I encourage you to check out their blog for more information about their company as well as other articles regarding environmentalism. They also have a podcast about the environment if you are seeking to educate yourself or just enjoy listening to people talk about nature.
As someone who has been a part of climate change activism for a solid three years, I understand that individual change alone will not turn the situation around. We need worldwide change about how we consume products as well as how we treat plants, animals, and the rest of the environment. It can seem discouraging or possibly existential to make changes in your life when there is little to no change being made in governments.
I am also a believer in the intersectionality of both individual and systemic change. It will take individuals wanting change to happen for systemic change to occur, and what better way to show that than to use your metaphorical dollars for companies that are dedicated to bringing about change? So, what are you waiting for, go download Ecosia!