Technology often gets a bad rap for disconnecting us from other humans and from the real world. While it is true that burying our faces in our phones can do just that, there are many ways that our smart devices can actually make our planet a better place. Sometimes, this doesn't have to require any extra effort. The following list suggests five browser add-ons that will help you give back without thinking twice. They simply work in the background while you browse, shop or go about your daily virtual tasks.
Tab for a Cause
When browsing on a phone or a computer, it is common to open tab after tab. Sometimes, our busy lives lead to dozens of open tabs at once. Tab for a Cause takes advantage of our obsession with multitasking. This Google Chrome add-on raises money each time you click on a new website, page or open something in a new tab. It sounds almost too good to be true, so how does it work?
Tab for a Cause collects the revenue from advertisements on the pages you browse. This means that every pop-up, pesky mid-text image or banner ad results in money donated to a good cause. This could be for building libraries, planting trees, sending emergency aid, providing clean water and much more. The best part is, you can choose a specific charity to support with your clicks.
According to Google, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised via Tab for a Cause. The way it works is that Google works directly with its advertising partners. These advertisers benefit from this because they get data from Google about which ads the user may be interested in. This add-on promises to protect your privacy and not to collect any data that they do not need. Many websites and apps, such as Facebook, do collect such data. The difference is that Tab for a Cause uses it to give at least 30% of their profits to charity.
Tab for a Cause
Online shopping was once considered risky business. Today, virtual shopping is safe, and our options are unlimited. However, not all stores are made equal. Online shopping giants such as Amazon offer unbeatable delivery times while AliExpress offers ridiculously low prices. The stores one shops at, as well as the brands one chooses, can impact their environmental footprint.
Certain brands are committed to sourcing products ethically, avoiding animal products/testing or using eco-friendly materials. It takes an incredible amount of time to research and compare brands. That is where DoneGood comes in and does all the hard work. DoneGood is a website as well as a browser add-on. The benefit of the extension is that you can be shopping on any website and it will pop up and guide you in the right direction.
DoneGood’s mission is simple: to make it quick, easy and affordable to use your purchasing power for good. Its sponsors want to empower shoppers with the confidence that the money they spend will be used in a way that fits their beliefs. According to the company website, 100,000+ users have diverted $920,000 to companies that are actively trying to make the world a better place. At the moment, the extension is only available for Google Chrome.
DoneGood Browser Extension
Available for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari, TreeClicks does exactly what it sounds like: it plants trees when you click. TreeClicks is different from search engines such as Ecosia, which plant trees in exchange for searches. This ad-on is focused on shopping, and the trees are only planted when the user makes a purchase.
TreeClicks was founded in 2019, and all profits plant trees, specifically in India. Since deforestation accounts for over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, planting trees is a great way to make a difference. If everyone who contributes to the trillion-dollar business of e-commerce used TreeClicks, unimaginable numbers of trees would be planted!
How does it work? TreeClicks gets an advertising fee for directing users to specific stores/websites. This money then goes towards planting trees. While online shopping is not environmentally friendly, extensions like this can make a difference. There are over 50,000 stores that participate, and TreeClicks is just getting started.
Shopping on Amazon is generally frowned upon amongst people who want to shop more ethically. However, it can be unavoidable if you need a certain product while living abroad and the Amazon price makes it the only feasible choice. Recently, Amazon has gone out of its way to reduce packaging and use less plastic. Jeff Bezos also recently donated $10 billion to combat climate change. SmileAlways takes you an extra step towards using Amazon in a more sustainable way.
Although many of us would ideally donate to charity regularly, it isn’t always financially possible. SmileAlways is an extension that automatically redirects all Amazon pages to smile.amazon.com. This initiative donates 0.5% of your purchase monies to charity. Unfortunately, only certain items are eligible. But you do have a choice of your preferred charity.
According to Amazon, SmileAlways doesn’t collect any personal data from the user. This includes the shoppers’ identities or their purchasing activity. It is possible to type in the URL without adding the extension. However, using the add-on will automatically make donations for your purchases. This makes it completely effortless for the user. This add-on is available for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
There are many activities that modern humans take part in that simply cannot be 100% eco-friendly. Flying and online shopping are two great examples. There are companies that work hard to allow people to do these without expanding their carbon footprint. The solution is carbon offsetting.
Carbon offset is the practice of compensating for carbon emissions by reducing them elsewhere. One popular way to do this is to plant trees. Etsy, for example, participates in carbon offset with their shipping. Sellers can buy shipping labels through Etsy directly, which is not only cheaper but also guarantees that they will do something to offset those emissions. Another example is Delta, which was one of the first airlines to offer carbon offset to their flyers.
While this isn’t the perfect solution to the world’s environmental problems, it’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, even activities such as browsing and streaming impact your carbon footprint. Earth Mode, launched by Johnnie Walker brand and the Earth Day Network, is a Google Chrome extension that monitors your online energy use. A plug-in provides users with their stats, which encourage them to think about daily energy consumption. Johnnie Walker uses this information to neutralise carbon footprint by planting trees.
Screen time has been on the rise for years, and many are worried. Human beings keep spending more time looking at their phones and working on their laptops. While technology can separate us from the real world, it can also help us to give back. All of these apps are free to use and make a positive impact.
Many of us try actively to make a difference by donating our money and time. We also take steps to reduce and reuse our resources and make more ethical choices in life. However, these apps can make an even bigger difference. The best thing about them is that they work in the background. Whether you’re working, scrolling, or Netflix and chilling, they allow anyone to give back. What could be better than effortlessly making a positive impact on the planet?
Photos: Shutterstock / Collage: Martina Advaney
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