Here's an inconvenient truth: being green can be a pain in the neck. So when I heard of a new search tool that helps the environment without inflicting the least bit of discomfort upon users, I checked it out at once.EcoSearch.org is a Google-powered search tool that delivers the exact same search results you would get by using Google directly. Think of it as a "skin" that sits on top of the Google home page.
EcoSearch is so easy to use that even if you're browsing the Web in your idling, over-air-conditioned Escalade, waiting for your white Bengal tiger to be groomed, you won't feel the least bit inconvenienced.
Here's how it works: Google shares a portion of its advertising revenue with EcoSearch.org as it would with any other partner. EcoSearch, a non-profit, turns around and donates all of its profits to charities that work for environmental causes.
"If the average person searches twice a day, EcoSearch will be able to donate approximately $15,000,000 each and every year for every million users worldwide," explained EcoSearch.org executive director David Krasnow.
It's that simple.
So far, proceeds from EcoSearch.org have been sent to the Sierra Club, TreePeople, the National Resource Defense Council, Heal the Bay, and the Rainforest Alliance.
Krasnow built EcoSearch after reading about gobs of money being generated by Google AdSense. "I read an article about a guy who was buying up misspelled domain names and putting Google Adsense ads on them. He was making tens of millions of dollars per year," Krasnow told me.
The idea to drive AdSense-generated dollars toward environmental causes came to him last year, "in the middle of the night." Krasnow, who grew up in Los Angeles, has had a lifelong interest in the outdoors. He figured he could build the site himself -- he has a background in computer science -- and it could potentially make "an enormous amount of money."
Krasnow hasn't quit his day job. He's a principal at Funk Ventures, an investment firm with a focus on "wellness, medical device, lifestyle and recreation and clean tech markets." Krasnow runs EcoSearch on the side with the help of a few volunteers.
Is the planet-friendly search tool catching on? He won't give numbers: "Traffic is still pretty small, but better than I thought" -- but he is optimistic. "A lot of companies use green as a gimmick," Krasnow said, "that's not what this is about."