It all started around 10 years ago. Around 2009, a wise man named Christian Kroll traveled around the world to find inspiration for "a business model with a positive social impact."
After learning about how planting lots of trees could neutralize a large amount of CO2 emissions, he thought of a search engine that could fund reforestation projects. This idea eventually became Ecosia and was launched on December 7, 2009.
At first, Ecosia's goal was to protect the rainforest. They donated money to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and each search on Ecosia originally saved about 1.9 square meters of rainforest. Ecosia donated a total of €2,656.34 in December 2009, saving 5,312,688 square meters of rainforest.
In September 2011, Ecosia posted their first YouTube video, titled "Ecosia: Superheroes of the web." It currently has about 150,000 views. At this point, Ecosia was processing half a million searches a day and had raised over €400,000.
In February 2012, Ecosia hit a million euros donated. Later in August 2013, Ecosia revamped their website, launched their blog and started counting trees planted. They also started donating to The Nature Conservancy.
In April 2014, Ecosia became a Certified B Corp. This has tremendously improved their credibility, and many webpages that ask the question of "Is Ecosia legit?" mention this.
In May 2014, Mozilla chose the Ecosia extension as a featured add-on. By December 2014, Ecosia had planted a million trees, with a new one being planted every 34 seconds. At this point, they were funding WeForest. They had 2.2 million active users.
Ecosia started financing multiple projects at once in May 2016. Ecosia added a "live" tree counter to their homepage in June 2016. (Sidenote: the tree counter is not actually live, but rather a formula based on the current time. Also, if you go to the first archive of the counter, it says 5.7 billion for some reason. Is it foreshadowing its future? After all, we're already 1.14% of the way there.)
Ecosia experienced a huge growth spurt at the beginning of 2017, going from 300,000 trees planted a month to 2 million. In July 2017, Brave added Ecosia as a default search engine option. That same month, Ecosia hit 10 million trees planted.
Ecosia launched their mobile apps in December 2017. They became an official search engine option for Firefox Germany in March 2018. Around May 2018, Ecosia built its own solar plant to offset all CO2 emissions made by its searches.
In October 2018, Ecosia offered German energy company RWE AG a million euros to buy the Hambach Forest from them. Ecosia wanted to prevent the forest from being cut down to mine lignite. RWE formally declined the offer but may reduce their coal extraction by 25%.
The same month, Ecosia converted from a for-profit company into a non-profit. This means that Ecosia can never be sold and no profits can be taken out of the company. Around this time, Ecosia reached 40 million trees planted.
By February 2019, Ecosia had planted a total of 50 million trees. The next month, Ecosia joined Greta Thunberg's climate strike. In May 2019, Ecosia planted 25,000 trees: one for every Berlin person striking for Fridays for Future.
In July 2019, Ecosia announced that they were planting 1 million additional trees in Brazil "as a reaction to Bolsonaro’s policies." Ecosia increased this amount to 3 million the following month in response to the Amazon fires.
That same July, Ecosia released Ecosia Travel, allowing users to book hotels and plant 25 trees for each booking. In August, Ecosia refused to participate in Google's "search-choice" auction to appear on European Android devices.
In late August 2019, installs of Ecosia have increased tenfold due to people wanting to help with the Amazon fires. Their market share increased by 78% worldwide. In Ecosia's last financial report (July 2019), they donated €815,378 to plant 408,056 trees.
In that financial report, they supported projects in Indonesia, Malawi, Kenya, and Peru. The organizations supported were Masarang Foundation, Farm Radio Trust, Seven Ravens, and the Eden Projects.