June 15, 2023

Startpage partners with Leave No Trace

You may have noticed that our default homepage looks a little…different right now. We’ve introduced TWO new themes along with an exciting announcement! Startpage already helps millions of people leave no digital trace as they safely search and explore the internet. Now, as the weather warms up and people take to the outdoors, we are excited to partner with The Leave No Trace Organization to bring this same philosophy to users worldwide as they take time away from their screens and do some more exploring in nature.

For years, Leave No Trace has been pioneering research, conservation, and education efforts to ensure that our parks, preserves, and other natural wonders are preserved for generations to come. Central to Leave No Trace’s advocacy and education are their 7 Principles, which empower would-be explorers with accessible and actionable best practices to ensure that their outdoor adventures don’t create negative impacts on the environment. And after learning about these 7 Principles ourselves, we here at Startpage felt inspired to do something similar and create our own 7 Principles that help online explorers ensure that their adventures leave no digital trace:

1. Plan ahead and prepare → Learn best practices and tools

There’s no substitute for preparation. And for those looking to minimize their impacts both online and off, you need to not only have all the right tools and equipment at your disposal, but knowledge for how to properly make use of them.

2. Travel & Camp on durable surfaces → Always have a secure connection

Best practices are always built on a solid foundation. In nature, that foundation is the ground beneath your feet. Online, that foundation is your connection, which can (and should) be privatized with tools like a VPN, a web browser built for privacy, and ensuring that every URL you visit has an “s” at the end of the “http”.

3. Dispose of waste properly → Clear your cookies and browser data

We all make waste…it’s only natural! And so long as you regularly and properly dispose of that waste, there’s no need to fret. When you’re in nature, make sure you know where and how to properly discard your trash and waste, and be prepared to haul it with you if necessary. Online, make sure you clear out your cookies and browser data periodically (say, once a month). 

4. Leave what you find → Don’t touch unfamiliar links or files

We may feel tempted to touch or take something pretty when we see it. But make no mistake, this can be harmful to nature when you do it IRL and harmful to your device when you do it online! So resist the temptation and don’t touch it unless you’re certain that you need to. 

5. Minimize campfire impacts → Anonymize your search

Campfires are a staple of the outdoor experience, just like searching is a staple of the online experience. And in both cases, leaving behind glowing embers that say “someone was here” could be a recipe for disaster. That’s why you want your outdoor embers extinguished to the point where they’re cool to the touch. When you’re online, you’re safest if those embers were never there to begin with.

6. Respect wildlife → Don’t feed anyone your information

You may think trying to touch, interact with, or feed wildlife is harmless. In reality, you’re putting yourself, the animal, and possibly the ecosystem at risk. And when you feed a seemingly harmless bit of your information into a website to, say, access an article or a free trial, you’re feeding and enabling another ecosystem that feeds on people’s private information. So do everyone a favor, keep a safe distance, and don’t feed your food or your information to any unfamiliar creatures, no matter how cute or nonthreatening they look!

7. Be considerate of others → Respect everyone’s right to privacy

These principles are all about keeping natural and digital environments safe, pristine, and enjoyable for everyone. Everyone deserves to enjoy the same natural wonders that you do, and everyone deserves to have their privacy when they’re online. Both of those situations work best when everyone is looking out for each other, and why it’s so important for us to lead by example.

These two sets of 7 Principles  and our new home page are just the start of our partnership and collaboration with Leave No Trace, so you can look forward to even more useful tips, content, and conservation efforts in the months to come! But as summer begins, we hope you can take each set of 7 Principles and use them to transform your outdoor and online adventures to be safer, smarter, and more enjoyable.

UPDATE: After the successful launch of these two themes, a number of users have been asking us to share downloadable versions of these images to use as desktop wallpapers. We are, of course, happy to oblige. You can click HERE to download our “daytime” mountain vista, and HERE to download our nighttime mountain lake landscape. Enjoy bringing a bit of the serenity of the outdoors to your workspaces!

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