TL; DR: The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Ati Bakush and Alison Lee, Ekoru.org is a new ecologically sound search engine built on promoting sustainability. More than half of the revenue generated by Ekoru is donated to charities bent on saving the planet’s oceans. And its infrastructure is powered and cooled by sustainable energy sources. Read on to see how Ekoru is promoting awareness about ocean pollution and the need to conserve one of Earth’s most valuable natural resources.
A new eco-friendly search engine is making waves. Ekoru.org is a privacy web search server that donates more than half its revenues to ocean-saving charities. Its servers are housed in datacenters powered by hydroelectricity and cooled by air convention to eliminate IT carbon emissions. Its privacy features and noble mission have helped the search engine quickly grow in popularity, especially in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs encouraged Japanese consumers to use the server. Users can search the web in English, French, German, and Japanese while supporting Ekoru’s efforts to clean the oceans.
Life is made up of everyday activities that may seem unrelated until they’re not. For example, seagrass in the world’s oceans erodes at a rate of two soccer fields every two hours. And people perform an estimated 63,000 web searches every second. The founders of Ekoru.org devised a way to connect these seemingly disparate events to help save the environment. The eco-friendly search engine contributes 60% of its ad revenue to organizations committed to protecting the marine ecosystems. As a result, each search query helps fund the removal of a pound of trash from the ocean, finances the planting of seagrass shoots to restore ocean forestation, and covers the cost of collecting discarded plastic from the sea, among other ecological efforts.
Ekoru was created by husband-and-wife team Ati Bakush and Alison Lee. While living in Kuala Lumpur, they have seen firsthand the impact climate change is having on Malaysia’s ecosystem. Ati has a background in telecommunications and building platforms for ISPs, and Alison was a former Nike Country Marketing Manger when they decided to combine their talents and passion for ocean conservation.
“I reached a point in my life where I decided I wanted to do something more meaningful and more interesting,” said Ati.
Ekoru is helping raise awareness of ocean pollution and ocean conservation. Ati said people believe the oceans are an infinite resource and that they will always be there. “And that, sadly, is not true,” he said.
The search engine contributes to awareness and provides real-world solutions by supporting multiple causes. Ekoru’s partnerships with organizations help to educate and take action to restore the world’s living waters.
How It Works: From Energy-Efficient Servers to Eco-Friendly Ad Revenue
The team uses a green approach to powering its philanthropic web search engine servers. While Google searches create an estimated 500kg of carbon dioxide per second, Ekoru’s team was looking for a more sustainable way to deliver top-quality search results. The hydroelectric server database uses “run-of-the-river” technology that has less of an ecological footprint than traditional dam hydroelectric sources. Natural air convection — rather than air conditioning — cools each server. As a result, the search engine server has a beneficial environmental impact with zero carbon footprint.
CO2 gases are a greenhouse gas that scientists say is the leading cause of climate change and global warming. These rising temperatures in the oceans affect plant life and the lives of animals and cause the melting of the icebergs. In 20 years, it’s projected that 14% of all carbon emissions will result from IT projects.
In addition to drastically lowering carbon emissions, Ekoru cultivates carbon neutrality with ocean reforestation efforts. Search results pages are clearly-marked with advertisements that generate revenue when user click on them, just like they do on any other search engine.
“Sixty percent of proceeds are earmarked for ocean plastic and seagrass restoration efforts, and then 40% goes into keeping the lights on and allowing us to expand,” said Ati.
Ati said the company has had a modest success so far, and the team is looking forward to growing.
Supporting Sustainability Partners in the Search for Solutions
“We partner primarily with two organizations: Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Operation Posidonia, an initiative focused on ocean seagrass and reforesting the ocean,” said Ati. Ekoru.org users also see ad placements from environmentally friendly “Whale Affiliates” on the front page, which are all working toward a greater global good.
The first partner, Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, organizes volunteer beach clean-up days worldwide. This nonprofit also funds research and initiatives devoted to helping eliminate microplastics. These tiny plastic pieces are found in everything from seafood to placentas and pose an enormous ecological concern.
Thousands of animals are affected by the more than 150 million tons of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Since 2018, the York, UK-based company has provided technological innovation and millions of pounds of physical plastic removal annually. However, without intervention efforts, it’s estimated that by 2030 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea, and Big Blue Ocean Cleanup is on a mission to change that.
Their efforts have reached more than 100 countries over six continents. Its far-reaching movement was featured in Zac Efron’s “The Great Global Clean Up,” which premiered on the Discovery Channel to help promote awareness.
The other main beneficiary of Ekoru’s revenue is Operation Posidonia, courtesy of the University of South Wales. Its focus is planting seagrass sprouts (Posidonia australis), and it has over a 70% success rate. Teams collect washed-up fragments on the beach and replenish natural meadows. This variety of seagrass is a natural ecosystem for marine life like White’s seahorse, snapper fish, and swimming blue crabs.
Seagrass also does a fantastic job of sequestering carbon. Up to 10% of the carbon stored in ocean sediment is converted by seagrass, amounting to 9.9 billion metric tons of CO2 worldwide. Several seagrass species are also critically endangered or extinct in many of its natural habitats.
Additionally, Ekoru works with its partner Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, by contributing our search revenue to them which they use to organise volunteer cleanups.
“We also track volunteer cleanups on our maps which users around the world send to us for a “Seal of Approval,” but the cleanups are self initiated by them and we’re cheering them on,” Ati said.
Users also can track the progress they make by using Ekoru’s browser by monitoring how many grams of CO2 they’ve saved from the environment, how many plastic bottles they’ve removed from the oceans, or seagrass sprouts planted.
Safeguarding the Future: Protect Your Privacy and the Planet with Ekoru
In addition to engaging clients with an environmentally facing purpose, Ekoru provides top-notch privacy protection and a host of features. They include search queries that are not stored and sold, helping users maintain their privacy and autonomy. All search data is anonymous and encrypted to provide an extra layer of protection. Ekoru is also the only search engine that integrates what3words, a geocode system that encodes geographic coordinates into three permanently fixed keywords.
A mobile app allows users to download the web browser and start searching in seconds, with a customizable homepage and bookmarks. The application is also available as an add on for the popular web browsers Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft for a seamless experience.
Finally, users can customize their search experience with 11 ocean-friendly themes, including Octopus Orange, Starfish Pink, Seagrass Green, Dolphin Gray, and the developer’s personal favorite monochromatic Optimal Orka.
As for what the future holds, Ekoru’s plans are to grow its user base and implement coral protection initiatives. Ekoru is a fossil-fuel-free alternative to conventional search engines that supports all search engine users to make environmentally friendly choices every day.