A very young Romanian tech startup – Verdoo – aims to plant new trees every time an online purchase is made. The company was founded on April 22 this year by marketing specialist Mircea Giurca and has already gathered 1600 e-shops under its roof. Essentially Verdoo is a deal platform that operates through a free browser extension (It operates on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox – Ed. Note). Users can sign up for free to access offers for traveling and tourism and purchase clothing and household essentials, electronics, and books.
With a mission to facilitate sustainable shopping and provide users with cheaper prices, Verdoo has quickly become part of the online sustainability movement in the SEE region. “We are the first generation to experience the impact of global warming and the last one that can do anything to stop it. Our mission is to transform online shopping into a carbon-neutral experience. We are doing this by enabling people to plant trees to reduce their CO2 footprint hassle-free: no extra cost for offsetting and they even save money in the process by discovering the best deals,” Giurca told The Recursive.
The social startup redirects part of its commission fee for global reforestation. Verdoo is working in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, one of the largest reforestation NGOs that has planted over 200 million trees since its establishment in 2004.
Discounted shopping for a social cause
Working with retailers such as Booking.com, AliExpress, and FashionDays, the startup filtrates and suggests special offers. Each purchase contributes with a different number of trees planted, as the range varies according to each partnering shop. Shoppers can track their carbon footprint on the platform and can recommend Verdoo to friends and family, thus increasing their planting funds for every new member attracted.
Raising regional environmental consciousness
Currently, Verdoo is refining its product in Romania and expanding its retail network. Having integrated over 10 000 shops in their back-end, the team is working on deploying them to offer a bigger range of products. The startup has plans to connect to local environmental organizations, to enlarge its regional impact. International expansion is also a priority for 2021. “Our vision is to be much more than just a browser extension that helps you save. By the end of 2021, we want to build a community that inspires people to be minimalistic and help them discover the less harmful option for the products they really have to buy,” added Giurca.
According to a study requested by the startup, over 76% of Romanian participants reflect on their environmental impact when they shop. The pandemic seems to have made people more aware of the implications of climate change, with some 59% of millennial participants stating a change in their mindset in comparison with a year ago. Registering a positive attitude in Romanian respondents, Verdoo also reported that 42% of the participants stated they want to buy more eco-friendly products, compared to 2020.
Accelerating the positive trend
One of the most successful online sustainability initiatives of this caliber is the Berlin-based search engine Ecosia, which has already recorded over 15 million active users. Established in 2009 by Christian Kroll, Ecosia donates 80% of its income, coming from search ads, to plant trees. So far, the engine has supported over 20 reforestation projects, providing the funds for planting over 125 million trees in 15 different countries. So far, none of Ecosia’s projects covers the Southeastern European region.
According to Global Forest Watch, Romania has lost 4.8% of its tree cover since 2000, with the dominant cause for this being urbanization and forestry.