Make a Difference Online: 10 Ways to Do Good While Surfing the Web

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We’re living in a digital age, where nearly everything we do is at least partially online. Whether it’s email and zoom calls at work, or socializing and watching Netflix in our spare time, online technology is all around us!

I like to think of sustainable living as trying to optimise your daily habits so that they have the most positive impact on your environment. And there is no reason why your tech habits can’t be included in that.

After all, digital and online activity have an environmental cost. And while using technology less might not be practical for everyone, there are plenty of ways to offset your impact and do some good.

Here are some free online tools that will help you make positive change during your time spent online.

Note – If you’re unsure of any of the online tech jargon in this post, I’ve added a few helpful definitions down at the bottom of this list.

Ecosia

Search Engine, Browser Extension & Mobile App

“Googling” has become a verb in and of itself. But Google isn’t the only search engine available.

Ecosia does the same job as Google except that for every 45 searches you type in, Ecosia will plant 1 tree!

It’s that simple. You don’t have to do anything special, just search away and watch your tree count grow. As you can see in the photo above, I’ve used Ecosia to search over 1900 times, which equates to about 42 trees planted!

Click here to learn more about Ecosia and how to start using it.

They also have a mobile app that you can use instead of the Google app on your smartphone/tablet.

Ekoru

Search Engine & Browser Extension

Ekoru works similarly to Ecosia but instead of planting trees, Ekoru helps protect and restore our oceans, all without costing you a penny!

Ekoru does this by donating ad revenue from your searches to Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Operation Posidonia. Two great causes which help to recover ocean bound plastic and help plant ocean grasses respectively.

Plus, all of Ekoru’s servers are powered by hydroelectricity, so you’re reducing emissions by searching with them.

Click here for instruction and to learn more about Ekoru’s work.

Ekoru, Ecosia, and many of the other tools on this list use sponsored ads at the top of their search results (shown in the photo above) to generate revenue for donations. Google does this too, so if you aren’t bothered by them on Google, you won’t even notice them!

Ocean Hero

Search Engine & Browser Extension

Ocean Hero is another free search engine which uses sponsored ad revenue to collect ocean-bound plastic bottles. They along with the plastic collection charities they support, have recovered over 17 Million plastic bottles!

The cool thing about Ocean Hero is that they pay people in developing countries to collect these bottles, creating an economy around waste reduction!

Learn more about Ocean Hero here.

SearchScene

Search Engine & Browser Extension

Our final search engine is SearchScene which is a bit of a one stop shop for charitable donations. It works the same way as the other search engines on this list but offers a much wider range of charities that you can support.

These include; Eden Reforestation Projects, Oxfam, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, WaterAid, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The best part is you get to pick which ones you want to support. You could choose just one, or have your donations split between all six of these great options!

Learn more here.

Note – the reason I’ve included a few different search engine options in this post is that they each have slightly different user experiences, and each offer a different charitable option. Try them all out and see which one you like best!

Tab For a Cause

Browser Extension

When surfing the web you will often open a new tab when you want to search for something without losing the page you’re on.

Tab for a Cause lets you raise funds for charity by having your new tab open on their page automatically.

From the Tab for a Cause page you can search just like you normally would, but the ads on their page will help raise funds that you can then donate to a charity of your choice.

Charities you can donate to include Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch and Conservation International.

Open Tabs

Browser Extension

Open Tabs works the exact same way as Tab for a Cause, the only difference being that they focus their charitable efforts exclusively on fighting Climate Change and Poverty.

Using revenue from searches they have helped to plant over 215,000 trees and have provided over 100 microloans to individuals from 18 countries.

Amazing work, especially considering this non-profit only came into existence in 2019!

Install their browser extension here.

Amazon Smile + SmileAlways.io

Website & Browser Extension

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not the biggest Amazon fan. But if you’re going to buy off them then this initiative is a nice way to give a little back while you shop.

By shopping on https://smile.amazon.co.uk (or .com/.de/.fr) 0.5% of your purchases value will be donated to a charity of your choice.

Note that this doesn’t cost you any extra, Amazon donates on your behalf.

You can bookmark the above url or simply install this browser extension which will automatically bring you to the “smile” version any time to you visit Amazon.

The five charities Amazon offer on the UK version are WWF, British Heart Foundation, Marie Curie, Animal Free Research UK and Doctors Without Borders.

Altruisto

Browser Extension

Altruisto is another shopping tool. It’s similar to Amazon Smile but it works for over 1000 different online shopping websites such as eBay, Etsy, Booking.com, Microsoft and more.

All you have to do is follow the instructions on their website, and once you’re all set up every time you shop on a partnered website, part of your purchase will be donated to Oxfam, Against Malaria Foundation and many others.

See the list of shops that Altruisto works with here.

Forest

Smartphone App & Browser Extension

Forest is a little different to other tools on this list, because it’s actually a productivity app. Whenever you need to stay focused on a given task, you simply open up the Forest App or browser extension, set a time limit and the app will plant a digital tree.

As your timer ticks along, your tree will grow. But if you get distracted and open a different app on your phone, or website on your browser, then your tree withers away.

Your tree will be fully grown once you complete your timer. As you successfully grow your own digital forest, you will receive reward coins that you can then donate to help plant trees in real life!

Note that to help plant actual trees you need the pro version, which is €2.

Install the browser extension and find out more here.

Or click here for the Android app and here for the Apple version.

Charity Miles

Smartphone App

Charity miles is an exercise tracking app. For every mile you run walk or cycle, the app will donate money to a charity of your choice.

This is a great one for keeping active and doing some good at the same time!

The app offers the largest range of charities of any tool on this list, including the Malala Fund, WWF, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Smile, and more.

FreeRice

Website and Smartphone App

And finally, FreeRice is a trivia app that donates money to the UN World Food Program for every question you answer correctly. So, if you’re a quizzer by nature, this one is for you!

Your donations are represented in the game by grains of rice, though the actual food that your donations go toward varies depending on the area.

Since 2010 they have donated over $1.4 million to provide food in developing countries all over the world. The app and website are actually made by the UN so you know that it is legitimate.

Try your hand at some trivia for a good cause here!

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Web Browser: A Program used to access the web. E.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer  

Browser Extension: An add-on to make your web browser more useful.

Search Engine: A tool used to type in web searches. E.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing

Default Search Engine: The search engine your web browser uses to search the web.

Apps: Smartphone/Tablet programs. E.g. Facebook app, WhatsApp app, Instagram app

Search Ads: Sponsored search results used to generate money for donations.

If you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact us by email at info@thegreenerview.com

Or leave a comment down below!

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