In the world today, for better or worse, most people are too busy to do a lot of the things that are important to them. The same things that would provide them with immense joy if they did have the time and resources to do. For most people, this includes altruistic things like giving money or time to charities whose purpose resonates with them.
A growing number of vegans are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious as more easy-to-digest documentaries like Cowspiracy are produced. These important films are beginning to make clear the massive positive impact a vegan lifestyle has on the Earth, filled with information that was previously only available in the depths of obscure World Bank documents and complex scientific papers.
If you haven't watched Cowspiracy yet, here are some of the facts it highlights:
- A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater for their food.
- Livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
- 15,000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1 kilogram of beef.
- Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
- Globally, as many as 28.5 billion kilograms (40%) of fish caught are discarded every year.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
- 1.5 acres of land can either produce 16,700 kg of plant-based food or just 170 kg of beef.
- Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 3,600 litres of water, 16kg of grain, 3 sq meters of forested land, 8kg of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
Going vegan is just one small step we can make to head towards a greater future for everyone.
Another step, is using Ecosia.
What is Ecosia?
It's the most environmentally-friendly search engine in existence.
It operates and even looks almost exactly the same as Google - the search engine I assume everyone uses currently - but with one key difference: Ecosia uses at least 80% of their profits to plant trees.
And in the last year alone, they've planted 5 million of them.
Ecosia essentially allows you to live your life almost exactly as you already are, with only a very marginal change that will serve the planet unquestionably for the better - and won't cost you one cent.
Watch the video below for an overview from the Ecosia team themselves.
They make sure their efforts go where they're needed most by making a point to support tree planting projects in the 25 most threatened forest ecosystems on our planet, places where at least 70% of the original natural vegetation has been lost.
Their website actually has a counter of the rough total amount of trees they have planted, as well as the following description of their services.
So what I'm asking everyone to do here is very simple: make Ecosia your homepage, default search engine, or just install the addon to your browser of choice, and then continue searching and using the internet as you always have, but feeling a little better knowing that you're helping our home to become a little better.
You can also download the Ecosia app on your mobile whether you use an iPhone, Andriod or a Windows Phone.
You can read more about what Ecosia does here.
Benefits of using Ecosia
The earth likes trees.
Do you like to breathe clean air? Then you like trees too.
Some surprising benefits of trees:
- Trees create oxygen, which we need to breathe. One large tree can supply a day's supply of oxygen for four people.
- They also clean the air by absorbing pollutant gases and filtering out harmful gasses such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide and release back clean oxygen. An acre of trees absorbs enough carbon dioxide in a year to equal the amount produced when you drive a car 41,842 km.
- Forests provide us with healthy food and lots of other products, which can be sustainably harvested. Worldwide the livelihood of 1.6 billion people depends on forests.
- Forests regulate the watercycles and prevent floods. They create moisturous microclimates and increase groundwater levels. They act like a “sponge” and therefore prevent droughts.
- Trees absorb CO2, which is one of the main drivers of climate change. Larger forests can even create clouds, which then reflect the sunlight and cool our planet.
- Forests are the most diverse systems on land with millions of species out of which many have not even been discovered and analyzed yet. They also create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.
- A tree can be a natural air conditioner: the evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
- Trees protect the soil from erosion and they create productive and fertile land. If you cut down trees, you will very soon end up with a desert.
Basically, the earth needs them to survive. And the more the better.
Trees are the superheroes of the planet. The positive effects they can have on their environment and the people living in it are as versatile as the different shapes they come in.
Ecosia summarises it best on their website: "By planting a tree, you can fight climate change, restore landscapes, protect wildlife, provide nutrition, employment, education, medical assistance and political as well as economic stability. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?"
Yes, it is. Especially so when you don't even have to physically plant them yourself to make a difference.
My experience with Ecosia
I know leaving behind Google seems like a big deal. It is the search engine that changed the world after all. But it's not 1996 anymore. Things have changed.
We at Vomad have been using it as our default search engine for the last couple of weeks, and after the initial installation, it's been smooth sailing.
Initially, I just decided to "experiment" with Ecosia for a few days to see if it would ruin my internet experience or not. And as you can probably tell, it definitely did not. The difference is mostly aesthetic, so not really important at all. And after the initial few days, the slight difference in appearance just looked normal.
I thought the search engine might suck and return irrelevant results that would just get me frustrated every time I was looking for something. But of course, it doesn't. I wouldn't be recommending it to you otherwise. And with over 5.5 million active users, I think most people feel the same way.
The only time we routinely find ourselves heading back to Google is to use their Maps feature. GoogleMaps is just a lot more user-friendly. If we need to search something super specific, like to quickly find a particular Australian law, then Google seems to be better suited. But for general everyday searches, around 90% of the time for us, Ecosia is more than suitable for the task. I imagine for most people, who aren't on their computers all day working and being nerdy like we are, there'll be no need to alternate at all.
If you're like me and hardly ever click on ads, unless they are super relevant, then you might be thinking, "Hang on, what's the point if they only get their money from advertising clicks?" Well, think again. Even if you never click on an ad, just by using the service it makes Ecosia more valuable to advertisers, who will then pay more to get their ads on there for the people who do click on them.
By the way, there are no more ads on Ecosia than there already are on Google.
It feels good knowing that the hundreds of searches I do every week are doing something beneficial for the earth. It's relatable to the good feelings you get from going vegan. Individually your choice may not have too much of an impact on the planet, but that's not the point. The point is to do the least harm and the most good in the best way you know how to, and to lead by example through showing others how damn easy it is. And together, we really do make a difference.
When you consider the movement that you are apart of as a whole, and look at the change from that larger perspective, your small input begins to have real tangible meaning. For example, as of October 16th 2017, Ecosia have planted over 15 million trees. Your few searches might have only contributed a little bit to that, but that's all you need to contribute to help make a real difference.
I feel obliged to mention there are no affiliate links here and I get nothing in return if you choose to use this awesome service, other than the personal satisfaction of referring you.
So head over to the Ecosia website now and start helping the earth, one search at a time. Your grand-children will thank you for it.