Easy changes that make a difference are always great to find, so I’m super excited to share five digital green hacks that I’ve recently learned about. These apps and digital actions can help boost your eco-impact TODAY with very little effort and no monetary investment. Please comment below if you have other tips to share!
1. Switch Search Engines
Ecosia is a search engine like Google. You can go to Ecosia.com or install the Ecosia app on your phone and use it to search the internet. Ecosia’s ad revenue goes to planting trees, fighting deforestation and sequestering carbon in many places around the world. I counted 22 projects on their map to date, and the counter shows they are planting about one tree per second.
The little leaf counter on the right corner of my screen shows how many searches I have done — about 45 searches funds the planting of one tree!
Ecosia is a privately held B-corporation. This means that they are not required to maximize shareholder profits. They can make decisions based on what’s best for the environment. To help their users find other B-corporations and like-minded businesses, they mark green search results with a leaf icon.
You can look at their financial statements, and read a thorough review here. If you have installed Ecosia but want to use Google for a particular search, just type Google.com and your search terms into your search bar and you’ll get a Google search. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now (almost 700 searches, apparently), and I’ve found it to be just fine.
2. Help Conservation Partners While You Exercise
Many people I know are trying to walk 8,000-12,000 steps per day, monitoring their activity with apps and gadgets. This digital green hack involves telling the Charity Miles app when you start a long walk or workout. It can track activity while you walk, run, bike or even dance! Of course it’s a little creepy that it’s following your location, but aren’t phones doing that anyway?
Corporate sponsors (mostly sports equipment stores) give donations to a charity based on how much you moved. There are many charities to choose from.
The most environment-focused being Nature Conservancy, the National Park Foundation, and maybe Feeding America, which prevents food waste and associated greenhouse gases by saving hard-to-transport food from farms and manufacturers.
Charities like Charity:Water, Habitat for Humanity, and the World Food Programme are also instrumental in responding to the shortages, political upheaval and migration that are caused in part by climate change.
3. End Hunger with Online Flashcards
Freerice.com is a simple website with flashcards for many subjects including English, foreign languages, chemistry and more. Earn free rice for hungry people by spending time on the site. Though this does not help prevent effects of climate change, it helps lessen the pain.
4. Power your devices with renewable energy
Even if a personal solar array is out of reach, there are ways to power your online time with renewable energy.
Seattle City Light offers a Green-up program which is a voluntary extra fee on your bill that generates about as much new renewable energy as you use per month.
Search for “community solar” projects near you, or check out Arcadia Power, a company that invests in renewable energy projects and sells the credits to your local utility. The Penny Hoarder blog explains it well.
Of course, you could also invest in a little personal solar panel for camping, tiny house, or front porch use!
5. Plant trees by staying offline
Forest is an app that gamifies the task of staying off your favorite social media or games! When you want to focus, you “plant a tree” and stay off your personal blacklist of websites until it “grows.” If you refrain from going online, it’ll earn you a real tree planting in the real world.
It’s hard to make time in our everyday lives to plant trees, tend to the needy, protect our national parks, etc. But with these digital green hacks, we can be part of the solutions instead of part of the problem.