This innovative new hydro-powered search engine is aiming to reforest the world’s oceans and clean up the planet one internet search at a time.
Ekoru is a search engine that uses the money generated from sponsored search results to finance eco-friendly charities; for every online search made on the search engine, the organization uses the revenue to help remove one pound of trash from the ocean.
Australian tech innovator Ati Bakush and his wife Allison were inspired to launch the project after they moved to Kuala Lumpur and became increasingly concerned with Asia’s contribution to ocean plastic pollution. With his background in technology and her background in marketing, they launched Ekoru back in January.
“We figured that the best way to have an impact and ‘do something’ was to use our combined skill set and experience to create Ekoru to help raise money for the benefit of ocean conservation partners,” Bakush told Good News Network in an email.
“We wanted to come up a way that people could help without having to donate. Web searches are something which everyone does on a daily basis from their phone or computer and anyone could help make a difference just by switching from Google.”
In contrast, Ekoru has placed all of their servers inside data centers that are powered by hydro-electricity. Since it also requires about 2.9 kWh of energy to transmit 1 gigabyte of data on a 3G mobile device, Ekoru has gone one step further by optimizing their software code to deliver search results in smaller frames that cost less energy.
Although the operation is still getting its feet off the ground since it launched two months ago, they have committed the majority of the project’s revenue—excluding operational costs and utilities—to charity partners such as Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Operation Posidonia, which is led by the University of New South Wales Australia.
“When we were researching ocean partners to work with, Big Blue Ocean Cleanup was a perfect fit because they run volunteer cleanup teams around the world which clean oceans, coast lines, and water ways,” Bakush told GNN. “We felt it was important for our users to know that they were supporting a beneficiary that had a direct and immediate impact.”
Operation Posidonia, on the other hand, has been replanting seagrass meadows—also known as “blue carbon sinks”—along Australia’s coastlines and ocean floors.
According to the university, seagrass can capture carbon 40 times faster than tropical rainforests and store up to 83,000 tonne of carbon per square kilometer.
“We were amazed by how much sense Operation Posidonia’s work made and how little attention has been paid to ocean seagrass and their impact on fighting climate change. Of particular note is Operation Posidonia’s research in the area which resulted in an extraordinary survival rate of 90% for replanted ocean seagrass,” says Bakush.
Thus far, Ekoru has been adopted by users around the world, from the United States to Japan and Australia—although Bakush is excited to see the service expand to even more countries.
“We’re hard at work right now increasing our visibility and recruiting users to the search engine,” he told GNN. “Our biggest challenge is converting users away from their default search engine of Google but this has primarily been an issue of awareness.
“By design, many users don’t realize the difference between their browser (Chrome) and their search engine (Google) and genuinely didn’t even know that an alternative option exists. They’ve been pleasantly surprised that an option such as ours is available and happy to switch once they’ve discovered it.”