AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Ecosia: Planting Trees, One Search at a Time

Ecosia, a social business based in Berlin, Germany, is the search engine that plants trees. They donate $100,000 or 80% of their monthly profits from ad revenue to nonprofit conservationist organizations every month, with a focus on tree planting. Since they launched in December of 2009, they are close to hitting the “5 million trees planted” milestone and have a goal of doubling their users by year end.

How it works

By reaching users where they are and with no financial asks, Ecosia offers a search engine with social good in mind. They invest money generated from advertising into planting trees in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, and Peru. All the user has to do is use the search engine and for every ad click, they donate money towards planting trees. After plug-in installation into the browser, every user sees the progress of planted trees in their browser in the upper right corner.

 

The tech behind the trees

In 2013, Ecosia turned to AWS to host their website and search engine on Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Route 53, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

Prior to moving to AWS, Ecosia was hosting its applications on dedicated servers with traditional hosting companies. “We needed a service that provided us with excellent options for scalability. As our traffic started to increase, we quickly realized that using dedicated hosting would not scale. We could not react quickly enough to spikes in traffic and were delivering sub-optimal performance during peak hours,” said Gregory McCue, Chief Technology Officer at Ecosia. “We wanted to see exactly how much we were spending to serve our website, and have the ability to utilize only the capacity we needed.”

Ecosia has 2.5 million active users a month, and is trying to reach 5 million active users. They reach upwards of 720,000 search requests a day and are able to fund planting a new tree every 10-12 seconds.

“AWS is at the core of the business; without AWS, we wouldn’t have any product to offer our users. The fact that everything runs smoothly allows us to deliver a well performing product to our user,” said Jacey Binger, Head of PR at Ecosia.

For nonprofits dedicated to helping the world, cost and scalability matters. Since they are donating 80% of their profits to planting trees, being frugal is important to their bottom line. Learn more how organizations need technology that help them achieve their mission without wasting precious resources.

Counting young trees in the second year – Credit Beeldkas and OZG

Dead trees in the desert in Burkina Faso – Credit WeForest