Monday, August 25, 2008

Forestle turns Google searches green

By Jacqui Cheng Published: August 25, 2008 - 05:30PM CT

The push toward green everything—green commuting, green shopping, green living, and even green computing—has exploded this year. But, as we all know, some of these initiatives are easier to take part in than others, and the most successful ones generally require the least amount of effort. With the launch of Forestle, "green searching" takes this trend to the extreme; with nothing more than a web search, you too can help the planet. is an independent, nonprofit site based out of Germany, and it was officially launched today after a period of beta testing. Results are delivered through Google, so they are as good as one might expect from a favorite search engine. So what's this pony's trick? According to the folks behind Forestle, all of the site's income (minus administrative costs, of course) from sponsored links is donated to The Nature Conservancy's adopt an acre program that helps to sustain the world's rainforests.
Forestle founder Christian Kroll tells us that, as a result, 0.1 square yards of rainforest are "saved" with every single web search. "Within our testing phase we already saved more than 15,000 square yards of rainforest," he said. In fact, as of this writing, the number appears to be up to 15,258 square yards, and the constantly-updated number appears on the main page of the site.
The company's about page says that admin costs make up only five percent of Forestle's overall income, and that Forestle will always remain transparent by posting financial reports on its site.

Using Forestle can be easier than just setting it as your home page, too. The company offers plugins that work with Firefox, Safari, and Opera in order to let you use Forestle from your browser's search bar.

I installed the plugin for Firefox, adding it to my list of available search engines and making it even easier to use Forestle to perform my everyday searches. When you use the Forestle plugin, you can also use "indicators" to search specific sites. For example, typing "amazon::" before a search will let you search Amazon's site—the same applies for others like "digg::", "ebay::", "weather::", and "dictionary::".

Of course, the downside to using Forestle is that it's not integrated with all of Google's other services. You won't get a link to your Gmail, or iGoogle, or Google Calendar at the top of Forestle, although the site does link to things like Google Image Search and Google Maps.
The only real advantage to using Forestle over Google is for the green benefits, but for those interested in Forestle's work, the site has made going green about as simple as it could possibly be.
Copyright © 1998-2008 Ars Technica, LLC
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