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Use a green Internet search engine

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By browsing the Internet using a green search engine, you'll get the same great results you're used to, with the added benefit of supporting a browser that uses a portion of the site's revenues to purchase carbon offset projects. It's a pretty effortless but effective way to offset your virtual footprint.

How to use a search portal that benefits the environment

Go to or Greenback Search instead of when you want to search the web. They are both powered by Google, so you will get the same high-quality searches as you would using Google directly.

Greenback offers a toolbar that you can add to Internet Explorer and Firefox to make it even more convenient to use, and they even keep track of how much carbon you've offset while searching. Another great feature is the ability to invite friends into your network which lets you view the entire network's offsets. Greenback also has a Facebook application to get your friends into it, too. And for all you bloggers out there, Greenback designed a widget that you can add to your blog, allowing users to search the web from the widget. It will keep tally of all the carbon offsets generated as you spread the good green word.

Using a search engine that benefits the environment helps you go green because...

  • You offset part of the energy consumed by using your computer.

Investments in server farms—those giant centers filled from floor to ceiling with high-powered computers to make internet data storage possible—are going ever higher as big companies like Yahoo! attempt to get enough memory to meet computing capacity. In fact, some companies, like Microsoft, are investing billions to add up to 20,000 new servers to their cache every month. Microsoft’s new $500 million facility outside of Chicago is set to consume 198 megawatts of power from three dedicated electrical substations![1]

And while those numbers may be atypically high, Microsoft and Yahoo! aren’t alone in their quest for more storage. Server farms are popping up everywhere, each using the equivalent of 10,000 to 20,000 home’s worth of energy (10-20 megawatts every hour).[2] Not only do these farms require energy to power all of the computers, with double- and triple-redundancy built into most these days to avoid data loss, because they generate so much heat, the warehouses have to be heavily cooled as well. Although power consumption is high on the list of issues facing those building and running server farms, according to one survey by chipmaker AMD, only 30 percent of server farmers have a plan to reduce their consumption.[3]

Greenback Search

Greenback Search donates half of the revenues generated by your searches to, an organization that funds projects that harvest carbon out of the atmosphere. Projects they fund include reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

According to unpublished claims by Greenback, the amount of carbon offset depends primarily on three factors:

  1. The number of searches you conduct,
  2. The average revenue per search, and
  3. The number of pounds of CO2 that can be offset with those funds, based on the figures given by the partner organizations.

The estimate of how many pounds of carbon you offset per search fluctuates over time, mostly because of the volatility in search revenues. The current estimate (November 2007) is that one search saves about three pounds of CO2. This amount will likely increase as they add more services from different online resources.

Greenback Search also has an option to change the background of the screen to black for those who have a CRT monitor. A black (often referred to as "blackled") background has only been shown to save energy on CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors versus flat screens and laptops (which use LCD or liquid crystal display screens).[4] donates all its profits derived from their partnership with Google's adsense to projects such as tree planting through the Australian organization, Carbon Neutral. Once the site is more firmly established, they plan to provide monthly updates on how much money has been invested and how much CO2 has been sequestered.


The claim that browsing the Internet with a black background, like those provided by and, collectively saves 750 megawatt-hours of electricity a year have recently been called into question. tested the claims, concluding that displaying a black screen makes very little difference on LCD screens (flat screens and laptop monitors). However, it does save some electricity if you use a CRT monitor, though not as much as the Blackle promoters claim. GreenBack Search and do more direct good for the environment by funding offset projects.

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fully agree with the controversial part of this tip. blackle is a good example of greenwashing at its finest. most people have LCDs and the energy use is the same whether you project white or black on an LCD. i also think that product comes before greenness. so i won't use poor search engines just cause they are green. i rather use good ones and know that they are doing green things... google, e.g., is doing a bunch on the renewable energy front, efficiency in their server farms, plug-in hybrid initiative with toyota, etc. much more significant than a black background on my search engine!

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