At first thought, switching your search engine may seem like an insignificant act, but upon digging deeper, I've decided that changing my default from Google to Ecosia is nothing short of radical. I know very well the argument that one person's decision cannot have a notable impact - and I've argued on that side of the fence many times myself - but small acts of defiance and radicalism can indeed have an effect on the world and on our own hearts.
What is Ecosia? It's a search engine that takes its revenue and puts some of that money towards planting trees around the globe. The way it works is simple, you and I switch our default search engine from the corporate behemoth Google to Ecosia, and every time we search for something on the web, Ecosia runs ads next to our results. Those ads generate a few cents each time they're clicked on, and that is how Ecosia makes a profit. This is exactly the same way that Google works, except Ecosia takes 80% of their ad-generated income and puts it towards tree planting projects that help everyone who inhabits this Earth.
Aside from being beautiful and great for hugging, trees provide the literal oxygen that we breathe, nourish the soil that grows our food, protect coastal lands from erosion, provide habitat for thousands of various animal and plant species, and help to regulate the climate both in a specific location and in our larger atmosphere. Rainforests are some of the largest carbon sinks on the planet - meaning that they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, both providing us with life and acting against climate change at the same time. Trees can be our refuge from the record breaking heat associated with climate change in certain parts of the world as they create their own cool and moist microclimates beneath their canopies. Their roots assist in rainfall absorption, therefore creating soil that will be more resistant to drought. In coastal areas, tree roots strengthen the earth in which they grow, therefore preventing erosion or excessive flooding during storms which continue to increase in number and strength. Animals and other plants which may soon face extinction can find refuge in their leafy canopies or knotted trunks. Trees are perhaps the perfect solution to the problems we face now as a global community, but we need more of them.
Ecosia recognizes the value of trees and the need for them, but they don't just plant willy nilly all over the place. Instead, Ecosia takes a number of factors into account before beginning a tree-planting project. For example, Ecosia has partnered with the Gunung Saran Lester Foundation to reforest the areas around Mount Saran in Indonesia. This area, and many others in Indonesia, face massive deforestation efforts by companies that would plant and produce a particularly harmful monoculture crop, palm oil. By working with the Gunung Saran Lester Foundation to plant beneficial trees in this area, Ecosia is able to put their profits into the hands of indigenous peoples who will be able to harvest more sustainable materials from their newly planted trees and therefore stave off those who would purchase the land for palm oil plantations instead.
Despite the fact that I am only one person, and I perhaps am only Ecosia-ing something a few times a day, I feel empowered and honored to support an organization that consciously and carefully does so much good for people and planet. Deciding to switch from Google to Ecosia isn't really about making the "right" choice, in fact it feels to me much more like a boost of confidence, a boost that in turn provides a positive feedback loop the next time I'm confronted with a decision that may seem just as small. Even the little things, like where you search for answers on the web, can fly in the face of climate-harming capitalism. Practicing small acts such as these can prepare us for the larger acts of defiance that we all must shoulder in the ongoing fight against corporate greed and climate change.