Green Search Engines, or search engines that help charitable causes, are one of the newest trends online. These sites are similar to – and are actually powered by - other search engines, such as Google.com or Yahoo.com, however they divert advertising dollars back into charitable causes. But with 8 billion ad dollars changing hands in 2007, this is clearly an area open to abuse. To help you use your search clicks to the best advantage, TreeHugger has rounded up many of the Green Search Engines. Our review and recommendations are broken into three categories:
- Best Do-good Green Search Engine: the best of green search engines which donate a percent of revenues to green causes;
- Best Network Green Search Engine: the best of green search engines which limit hits to information or products from vetted green suppliers;
- Best of the Rest: Search Engines with other eco-angles
Before you head off to start using one of these green search engines, it's important to mention a few etiquette tips for do-gooder searches. Green Search Engines work in partnership with other major search engines, such as Google. Use these sites only as you would use a real search engine. Patterns that indicate click-to-donate behavior can cause the green search engine to lose the partnership of the search engine driver. Put another way, if Google thinks you're gaming the system just to raise money for the cause, they may pull the plug on the green search engine, which isn't good. Sites which make claims that promise to donate-for-clicks have already been banned by Google.
Why Should I Use a Do-gooder Green Search Engines?
The Angle: Donating profits or a percent of revenue to environmental causes.
The Upside: Ad dollars get put to good use.
The Downside: Let us know in the comments if you think of any!
Best Green Search Engines for Do-Gooders
We spoke with David Krasnow, the man behind EcoSearch.org. David runs the site in his spare time out of a commitment to making a difference. Therefore, he says, operating costs are very low, so the site is really just a channel for ad dollars straight to charity. Krasnow intends to continue to donate 100% of profits from the site to the charities listed as the site grows. We encourage David to add this commitment clearly to the "About" info on his website.
- EcoSearch.org donates 100% of profits to charities named on the "About" page on the site.
- Users can request additional environmental charities be added.
- EcoSearch.org is powered by Google.
- GoodSearch donates 50% of revenue to charities chosen by the users of the site
- GoodSearch searches via Yahoo!.
- GoodTree gives 12.5% of revenue to charities chosen by the users of the site.
- GoodTree publishes independent audits and shows the disbursements made, by charity.
- GoodTree is a meta-search engine, searching over Yahoo, Google, Ask Jeeves, and MSN.
- putting all your social networking sites under one roof
- promoting green content and
- giving 10% of proceeds from the built-in Yahoo! powered search to an environmental charity voted by all Flock users at the end of the year.
Why Should I Use Network Green Search Engines?
The Angle:These green search engines pre-select a list of reliable information and product providers so that your search will return only the hits which are deemed reliable by their pre-screening.
The Upside: If you feel overwhelmed fishing through the thousands of results returned on a normal Google search, you might want to give these search pages a try. Ideally, these sites apply the trust factor of social networking to the marketplace.
The Downside: Cutting edge new content may not be found. Sustainable suppliers which are not included in the search pool will be missed.
Best Green Network Searching
Green Maven: recommended for green content searches.
Green planet search: One to watch. A spectacular layout, flash-driven search engine, but returns limited hits due to the slow process of responsibly selecting partners.
The Green search, Canadian-oriented search engine.
Ecoseek is useful when searching for products that are environmentally friendly.
Green Link Central claims that all of its feeds are hand-picked by humans.
EcoEarth.info: aims to be a tool for conservation and sustainability themes.
What About the Other Green Search Engines?
The Angle: These sites claim green status by promising to plant a few trees, buying some carbon offsets or displaying a black screen for the potential energy savings.
The Upside: Variety is the spice of life.
The Downside: Your clicks might be going to better use as donated funds or towards building a green market network.
Offset Green Search Engines
If you want to direct your charitable giving without using green search engines, these sites might interest you.
treehoo: plants trees to offset searches
echocho: buys carbon offsets
Blackscreen Green Search Engines
If you are using a CRT (old-fashioned) monitor, blackscreen might save enough energy to make it worth setting your bookmark on. Which is best? Hmmm, really all the same!
Greygle: In easier-to-read grey
We wish you good surfing!