Innovation

Sustainable Brands Find New Domain

by Stacey Leasca

April 26, 2017

Dot com. Dot gov. Dot org. Over the years, those three little letters at the end of a URL have become powerful signifiers, cemented in our digital consciousness, of whether an operation is positioning itself as a nonprofit, a goverment organization, or straight up online business.

Now, there’s a brand new web address eager to send a tiny, but powerful, message to those committed to positive change for the planet.

On Tuesday, .eco, a new web address ending—known as a top-level domain—launched into the world. The ending is available to any business, government body, nonprofit, or individual working toward a sustainable future.

Consumers will recognize .eco as the new global identity for brands and organizations committed to positive environmental change,” Trevor Bowden, co-founder of .eco and Big Room Inc., a certified B Corporation located in Vancouver, British Columbia, said in a statement provided to GOOD. “Early .eco domain holders have already inspired a positive ripple effect, encouraging other brands to register and promoting transparency and a new level of accountability in how companies broadcast their social, environmental, and CSR mandates.”

Already, the .eco domain is backed by more than 50 environmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, United Nations Global Compact, Natural Resources Defense Council, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development and is a trusted symbol for the environmental community.

“We are thrilled to be part of .eco,” said Sid Das, digital director at WWF International, one of the organizations that endorsed Bowden and Malthouse’s bid for .eco. “It’s great to see this domain will be maintained by a community that is passionate about the environment.”

Other early adopters of the web ending include Koala, a natural cleaning products company, rebranded to Koala.eco; Sea Semester, an off-campus environmental studies program, which created a landing page for their environmental study initiative at StudyAbroad.eco; Greenpeace Argentina, which is using Oceanos.eco as a short, memorable URL; and Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, which is using Vancity.eco as a shortcut to the sustainability section of their website.

It’s great to see this domain will be maintained by a community that is passionate about the environment.

The .eco domain, however, did not come without a significant battle. Its launch comes on the heels of a nine-year collaborative effort from more than 50 environmental nonprofits battling against others wishing to take control of the .eco ending. But in 2014, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) finally granted control of the domain name to the coalition because it feared the environmentally friendly looking web address would be hijacked by corporations to give their commercial activities an unwarranted environmental image, The Guardian reported.

“This means the environmental groups will always be in control of .eco domain names,” Jacob Malthouse, co-founder of Big Room Inc., told The Guardian following the 2014 decision. “It means that the .eco domain is going to be run by and for environmentalists. When people see a .eco domain name, they can be sure that is actually going to be meaningful.”

Beyond keeping tabs on who is and is not deserving of the .eco tag, Big Room Inc. also plans to create an independent foundation that will allocate a portion of the sales of .eco domain names to help fund environmental initiatives.

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Sustainable Brands Find New Domain