Resources

Ditch Google With These Ethical Alternative Search Engines

alternative search engines
alternative search engines

I have an uneasy relationship with Google, and have been on a hunt for alternative search engines.  Here are my top more ethical search engines that you might want to try too.

Yes, Google is great at finding everything you need to know in a flash. But here’s the thing: Google, in turn, knows everything about you through your search history.  

Google will know if you’re looking for a job or if you’ve lost your job. It will know if you think you might be pregnant or if you think you might be in labour. If you’re ill, Google will know. Google will know your interests and hobbies. And Google will perhaps know some things you’d rather not share with even your closest friends. Say, for example, if you discovered your other half has a thing for wearing ladies’ underwear then chances are Google would know about it first!

Being such a global giant, I don’t feel at ease with Google knowing so much about me.  Who knows what it does with my data, or what it can do in the future with it.  Coupled with Google’s well-documented tax avoidance, it doesn’t paint a pretty or ethical picture. Thankfully there are some alternative search engines more ethical than Google.

Best Alternative Search Engines

Here are my top alternative ethical search engines that contribute to a better world. From planting trees to those with a zero-tracking policy, do take a look.

Ecosia

ecosia

In my search for alternative search engines, I came across Ecosia. This is a green search engine that donates all of its surplus income to conservation organisations that plant trees where they are needed most.

Transparency is key. As such, Ecoia publishes monthly financial reports. These show exactly how much money they made from your searches, and what percentage of their revenue went towards trees.

Ecosia does not pay out any dividends to its owners. All profits stay within the company and will eventually either be invested or used for tree planting.

What I like is that searches on Ecosia are powered by 100% renewable energy. Ecosia plant trees that fight climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. And they accelerate the energy transition away from fossil fuels by adding solar energy to the electricity grid. This is because they started building their own solar plants in 2018,

And you don’t have to sacrifice low-quality results to do good – Ecosia uses Bing and their own search algorithms. The association with Bing is not brilliant, as Microsoft who owns Bing has also been avoiding paying tax. However, the tree planting element of Ecosia gives it the ethical alternative search engine edge over Google.

Ecosia works just like Google. Simply search for what you want, and as well as your search results you’ll be presented with relevant adverts based on your search terms.  If you click on a sponsored link the sponsoring company pays Bing for the click.  The difference is that then Bing gives the bigger chunk of that money to Ecosia. Ecosia then donates at least 80% of this income to plant trees.  Surfing with a conscience, if you will.  So far Ecosia has planted over 120,000,000 trees.

DuckDuckGo

I wondered if there were any other alternative search engines out there not tainted by tax avoidance.  A bit more searching uncovered DuckDuckGo. This is a search engine that claims not to track you or collect information about you: duckduckgo

As DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your previous searches and is forced to keep its focus purely on its search function, rather than advertising it seems like a fairly smart and innocuous choice for web searching.  And its search function is pretty good too. They don’t have an environmental focus, like Ecosia, but they don’t contribute to tax avoidance, so I’m chalking that up as a win.

My Alternative Search Engine Recommendations

So, as far as alternative search engines go, I found Ecosia great for the environment. However, it’s not so hot if you want to use a website not tainted by tax avoidance.  I might adopt a two-pronged approach to search engines – using Ecosia for general web searches (where, to be honest, I’d be much more inclined to click on sponsored search results) and using DuckDuckGo (which doesn’t collect information about you) for looking for specific web pages (where I would be unlikely to click on sponsored search results anyway).

Have you used Ecosia or DuckDuckGo?  What did you think?  Or are there any other alternative search engines that you recommend?  I’m all ears!

Life & Style

How to Help Bees (Even If You Don’t Have A Garden)

how to help bees
how to help bees

The other day I spoke about how to plant a bee-friendly garden.  But what if you don’t have a garden or access to any green space?  Not to worry, you can still help the bees.  Here’s how you can help bees and ‘bee’ a friendly person!

How to Help Bees

Don’t pick any wild flowers, no matter how pretty they look.  Leave them for the bees.

Learn how to revive tired bees.

Is there any derelict land or space in your town/city?  Be a guerrilla gardener and scatter some wildflower seeds in any available space.

Window boxes are great and low maintenance.  Even a pot of lavender by your door is better than nothing and really helps the bees.

Don’t have space for a window box or plant pot and wondering how to help?  You can shop with the bees in mind.  Some stores, including Neal’s Yard, are donating 3% from every product sold from their Bee Lovely Collection to projects that help save the bees. Meanwhile, Yope‘s Linden range is dedicated to rescuing bee habitats. Part of their profits from their Linden range is donated to bee-friendly charities that focus on creating wildflower meadows.

If you’d like your honey to come with a little less effort then be sure to buy your honey from responsible suppliers.  If you can, buy your honey from a known source (ideally from bees kept on organic or uncultivated land), where the honey is produced by individual bee-keepers who practise balanced bee-keeping. Asking through your local Facebook page is often a good place to start.

bumble bee

Become a beekeeper!  Yes, that’s right!  You don’t need much space – perhaps a balcony or rooftop if you have easy and safe access to yours.  It’s easier than you think and you’ll be rewarded with lots of lovely honey, as well as helping the bees!  Here’s a handy guide to starting out. Another good reference point is also the British Beekeepers Association website.

Hold a bake sale at work, college, or the local fete. Then donate the takings to a bee-friendly charity, such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

What Will You Do?

Inspired?  Let me know in the comments below if you do any of these or come up with your own ideas on how to help bees!

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