Successful student campaign turning search engine hits into trees by the thousands
By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Wednesday, 8 May 2019
Three campaigning students have helped Sussex become the most active university in the world using an environmentally-friendly search engine – directly leading to the planting of more than 8,000 trees.
Fred Henderson, Amber Hayward and Erin Emirali have been tirelessly promoting the use of Ecosia - a German-based Internet search engine that uses 80% of its profits from advertising revenue to reforestation and conservationism projects.
Over the past year, University of Sussex students have carried out more than 600,000 searches using the site, which has led to the planting of more than 8,000 trees and the removal of 500 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.
As well as helping make Ecosia the default option for many Sussex students and staff, the trio’s campaign Ecosia on Campus has encouraged and assisted students at more than 60 universities worldwide to start up their own campaigns to promote the use of the search engine, leading to thousands more trees being planted.
Now, as the three Global Studies students prepare to graduate this summer, the University of Sussex IT Services team have announced their support to increasing the Ecosia use on campus even further, helping to create a legacy for all of Fred, Amber and Erin’s hard work.
Amber said: “The environment is really on the minds of our generation around the world. It’s sometimes difficult to know how you can best make a difference but with Ecosia you can make a positive difference while doing something you would do many times a day regardless. You just have to use Ecosia instead of your normal search engines.”
Erin said: “We’re really proud of what we’ve managed to achieve. It’s been really surprising how much it has taken off but we’ve always been able to manage it and it’s never got too big for us three to manage alongside our studies.”
Fred said: “We’re really keen that this campaign continues even after we leave the university in the summer. We’ve had a really positive meeting with the University’s director of IT and he has said he is determined that it will continue to grow even when we leave, which is great to hear.”
The three students were working together on a course project when they discovered they all used Ecosia. They immediately began thinking about how they could help encourage more students to use the search engine as well.
Ecosia first launched in 2009 and has since been responsible for more than 50 million trees planted in over 15 countries across the globe including in Indonesia, Senegal and Madagascar. The website continues to grow in popularity, with the rate of searches doubling in the last year alone.
The use of Ecosia really accelerated at the University of Sussex after the campaigners convinced the University’s IT Services team to make Ecosia the default homepage for Microsoft Edge.
There are now plans to continue the promotion of Ecosia to increase its use among staff and students even further.
Jason Oliver, the University of Sussex’s Director of Information Technology, said: “The ITS team at Sussex are working to reduce energy consumption and waste wherever we can. We’re very conscious of the environmental impact that technology can have if not managed carefully. That’s why we’re proud to recommend and promote the use of Ecosia.”
To mark the success of the campaign, on Wednesday (10 April) the three students planted three Rowan trees outside the Chichester 1 building at the University of Sussex.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/EcosiaOnCampus.