and of course our Black Friday raise!
Greetings dear ones,
I hope you've had a happy week.
As always, we start by welcoming the newcomers: Jessica, Jeffery, Hannah, Patricia, Marisela, Asika, Karen, Krista, Katherine, Aditi, Francisca, Lyn, Fiona, Brandy, Julie and Thanna. Thank you very much for joining us.
These Sunday newsletters are educational-entertainment: meaning that I offer tidbits about sustainability, and/or running a slow-fashion startup. But the whole point is for it to be an enjoyable read... hopefully...
Our newsletter archive and journal contain lots of information about the jaw-droppingly cool new world of plant-based "leathers", and sustainability more generally.
Today however we're talking alternatives to Big Tech for everyday consumers like you and I.
A quick FYI: I've recently discovered that some links in these newsletters "expire" at a certain point - so my apologies if this has happened to you. I'm working on fixing it but it's requiring some out of the box thinking (long story).
Popi, in April 2021, undoubtedly up to no good...
But first we have a very happy announcement: we raised £951 in our Black Friday pledge, which we are topping up to £1000.
Keen readers amongst you will know that the funds are headed to The Orangutan Project. They do important work in Borneo and Sumatra to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans - a critically endangered species - and they also work tirelessly to protect orangutans' natural habitats from destruction for palm oil.
Now to the topic of the day: alternatives to the products and services of Big Tech companies, namely Google, Facebook (or Meta, if you're being picky), Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
Perhaps like many of you, the more I:
- Read about the questionable ethics of these companies,
- Hear about some record-breaking market cap - now in the trillions,
- Learn that yet another billionaire has joined Space Race 2.0 whilst the planet falls to pieces...
... the more I want to scream.
I started LUXTRA because I was fed up with the fashion industry only using real leather. So in a similar way, I am taking a stand with my tech choices.
But first, full disclosure of course: I am currently typing this on an Apple laptop and Luxtra's emails are hosted on Google. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm more fired up than I have ever been about Big Tech, and have actively started to look for alternatives. So let's dive in.
For the sake of "brevity", this newsletter will:
a) Cover just 2 areas of tech: search engines and email (I'll write more on other topics later)
b) Be consumer focused. I'll do a business version down the track.
S E A R C H E N G I N E S
Google's search engine has approximately 93% market share. I know...
I Wish LUXTRA had 93% handbag market share!
I'm not going to suggest alternatives like Bing (Microsoft) or Yahoo... so here are my thoughts on more ethically-oriented places to do your searching:
1) DUCK DUCK GO
I rate DDG. I switched last week from Qwant (see below) and have no objections so far. DDG is privacy centric meaning it doesn't profile you as you're searching, yet offers many of the same user-experience features of Google (which I readily admit are hard to give up).
The first alt-search engine I seriously tried out. Started by French ex-Googlers. Decent enough, but it has terrible, terrible maps - a feature I use a lot. Last week I was looking for something on Oxford Street, London (one of the key streets in the capital), and I kid you not it seriously came up with map results for a town in Wales.
I'm excited for this one. The world's first ad-free, private search engine built by more ex-Googlers. Currently free but it will cost $5 / month when it comes out of beta. Right now it's only available to people in the US but you can sign up to be alerted when it comes into your territory. Yes, it will cost money, but I'm starting to value my privacy a lot more than I used to.
The one where they plant a tree (current ratio = approx 45 searches for 1 tree planted). 100% of its profits go to climate action. Watching the video on their landing page - I'm very impressed. Will probably be a hot contender as my search-engine of choice.
E M A I L
As I alluded to above, it's hard to move on from Big Tech. I know. The user experience is often best in class, so "down grading" is probably only for the die-hards like me. Email is especially sticky... and I'll admit it's the reason I've so far struggled to move LUXTRA off from Google. I have however changed my personal email from Gmail to mailbox.org
Being straight with you: it's tough going from Gmail to Mailbox. The concept is great (paid, but not expensive, super high security and data protection, ad-free, servers located in Germany and 100% green-energy powered) but boy, oh boy, is it clunky: every email received comes in as a new email. You can only search within folders - it won't scan all your emails and tell you that email you're trying to locate is not in "Receipts" but rather in "Home" ...
I try to see the positive in everything - so the "good" part is that I now spend very little time on personal emails! I also pretty much have just my first name @mailbox.org, which also sounds a lot better than @protonmail.com, right? And yes, I'm vain, didn't you know?
Seems to have good reviews in tech-privacy circles, but is not a product that I've tried personally. Mailfence offers a suite of features including calendar and document storage. They also offer guidance on how to migrate your existing emails and documents from your current email, which is potentially one of the most important parts of a switch.
Probably one of its biggest selling points is that its servers are located in Switzerland. From what I gather from reviews online (again, I've not personally tested it) Protonmail seems to be ranked similarly to Mailfence... Happy to stand corrected on this though!
4) Honourable mention: ZOHO
This will probably be my choice for LUXTRA's email when finally make the time to switch over. It does seem to offer personal accounts, but all the branding seems very much targeted at businesses ...
If you're keen to learn more about the pros and cons of each email provider (and many more), I highly recommend this article. If the link is broken, search: "restoreprivacy.com alternatives to gmail Sven Taylor".
Ouf. That was a long newsletter. Thanks for reading down to here. If you know of any alternatives that I've missed - please, please hit reply and enlighten me. Always love to hear from you.
Otherwise: have a happy week ahead!
Founder | Plant Parent | Proud B Corp-er