Ad revenue used to plant trees
Students push for use of green search engine at UG
When it comes to sustainability, most people agree that more is better. Yet practicing what you preach can be difficult, medicine student Martina Barberio (21) has found. ‘I often speak to people who struggle to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, because it takes effort.’
As the UG Green Office’s chief ambassador at the faculty of medicine, she points out the existence of green search engine Ecosia to them. ‘Then you can make an impact by simply doing what you do every day, using the web.’
Ecosia uses the income generated by search advertising to plant trees. It takes roughly 45 searches to plant a tree, Ecosia says, and the company allocates 80 percent of its profits to that goal. Anyone who installs the free browser extension sees a personal ‘tree counter’, informing them of the number of trees that will be planted thanks to their search queries. The total now stands at over 110 million.
The ad revenue goes to several environmental organisations, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Eden Reforestation Projects.
Room for improvement
Martina and fellow Green Office ambassador Finn Ole Scheff, an international business student, want the UG to use Ecosia as its main search engine. ‘The university is already doing well in terms of sustainability, but there is always room for improvement’, Finn says.
And they’re not alone: there are currently over a hundred of student-led Ecosia on Campus campaigns going on around the globe. As a result, the University of Sussex has planted 17,300 trees since 2018, while the University of Leeds managed to rack up 6,000 trees’ worth of search queries from early 2020 onwards.
‘We set up an Instagram account to raise awareness among students’, says Martina. ‘And we started a petition a few weeks ago that will be presented to UG officials. We already have a thousand signatures.’
They are confident they will succeed, Finn says. ‘We’re also in contact with a former university council member who is willing to support us. It’s a small thing that can make a huge difference and it is in everybody’s interest.’