It’s hard not to get doomy and gloomy about climate change, but could a little more green in the world help stave it off? You can’t blame these Berliners for trying!
ECO SEARCH ENGINE
Founded by Christian Kroll in 2009, Ecosia is a search engine that piggybacks off Microsoft’s Bing to offer the tantalising promise of literal clicktivism: every time you search for something, 80 percent of the ad revenue profits go to reforestation and tree-planting projects around the world. With over 5.5 million active users, the site claims to have planted almost 14 million trees on volcano slopes in Nicaragua, in coastal forests in Madagascar and in the Mount Saran foothills in Indonesia – well on its way to its goal of a billion trees by 2020.
Download it as an app or install its plug-in to Chrome or Firefox, and Ecosia will replace Google as your default search engine. It’s fun to keep track of how many trees have (supposedly) been planted as a result of your incessant browsing – 1390 in two months in my case, based on the number of my searches matched with the 45 seconds it takes to finance one new tree. This is still technically Bing you’re working with, so the search results can leave a bit to be desired (and your data is still being gathered). But overall it’s a very easy way to feel like you’re doing just a little good each day.
WALL OF TREES
When planting new trees is not an option, why not mimic them? That’s the idea behind CityTree, a mobile installation that’s basically a four-by-three-metre self-watering wall of moss. It’s the brainchild of Berlin-based company Green City Solutions, whose co-founder Zhengliang Wu claims that moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant, making them able to capture more dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases. One CityTree supposedly has the benefit of up to 275 actual trees. At a cost of €25,000 per “tree” it’s not cheap, but has the added benefit of a built-in bench (if not shade). They’ve already popped up in Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. Here in Berlin, there’s one “planted” at Hauptbahnhof to tackle some of the transport exhaust. But with our notoriously bad air quality, let’s hope we see some more sprouting up soon.