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    Eco-Friendly NFTs: NFTs’ Impact on the Environment

    NFTs are becoming a fundamental part of Web3’s implementation. Although they are in their early stages, NFTs have offered a large platform for creators to share their art and benefit from them. These non-fungible tokens are getting popular each day, with some collections securing millions of dollars in trading volume. However, NFTs’ blockchain-based trait has yielded major concerns circling their impact on the environment. Cryptocurrencies, since their conception, are increasing the carbon footprint. It all goes back to how the blockchain actually functions. In short, NFTs are not environmentally friendly. They are fueling the ever-so-increasing climate crisis. However, recently, more Web3 projects are going into the path of decreasing its environmental impact. How? By introducing energy-efficient blockchains, sustainable mining, and eco friendly NFTs. 

    However, in order to understand the need for eco-friendly NFTs or projects, we must understand the basics of how the process of selling and buying NFTs works. It’s also important to view the issue of NFTs’ energy consumption in context. It is quite easy to point fingers at the new, somewhat scary, technology for years of bad non-environmental practices. NFTs, by their process, hurt the environment. However, is the impact THAT big? We’ll see. 

    NFTs’ Impact on the Environment

    Although NFTs are not eco friendly in nature, they are not the ones damaging the environment. Instead, we have the blockchain to blame. However, since NFTs are inherently traded on the blockchain, the constant transactions of NFTs increase energy consumption. 

    How Do NFTs Work?

    The blockchain needs an impeccable amount of energy to keep running. Why? The blockchain is a decentralized crypto network that is handled by distributed devices. This system enables the storage of data across many platforms in a peer-to-peer collection of data transactions. The whole process uses special software and computing methods. Moreover, some users validate the authenticity of a transaction, while others involve in a much more complex computation to keep adding ‘blocks’ to the blockchain, also known as mining. This establishment of network consensus is a process known as Proof-of-work. Therefore, the trade of NFTs is recorded as a transaction on the blockchain where they are validated and added to a block. 

    Why Is It a Harmful Process?

    Proof Of Work

    The Proof-of-work process needs a huge amount of energy. Mining is a difficult and slow process that requires specialized energy-intensive computers to work. To put things in perspective, the electricity needed for such a process is equivalent to a country’s electricity consumption in a year. Before the well-known Merge happened, Ethereum used electricity enough to power Netherlands. To frame it in an NFT sense, minting one NFT on a proof-of-work blockchain uses the same electricity as a household uses in 40 days!  

    Since more miners are required to secure the blockchain, more energy-consuming computers get involved, and the more the carbon footprint is amplified. 

    Steps to More Eco Friendly NFTs

    Given the negative stigma of the blockchain’s consumption rate, things are going in a more positive direction. The NFT industry and Web3 as a whole are moving into more sustainable forms of transactions to make crypto-assets more environmentally friendly. Many crypto enthusiasts and digital artists are working on decreasing NFTs’ carbon emissions. 

    How? Well, there are several ways to decrease NFTs’ carbon footprints. 

    Carbon Offsets and Green Energy

    Carbon Offsets and Green Energy

    The first and most important step to switching to eco friendly NFTs is to implement a carbon offset. Investing in green energy or carbon capture technology is considered carbon offset. This will inherently reduce carbon emissions from the environment. NFT projects such as TreeDefi have also linked the NFT transaction to planting IRL trees to compensate for the emissions generated by the blockchain. Another way to make the validation of transactions sustainable is to let miners use green energy, such as installing solar or wind sources to power the mining process. 

    Proof of Stake Mining

    Proof of Stake Mining

    The Proof-of-work miners need incredible computing power. However, an alternative mining system has emerged that doesn’t even depend on computing power in order to operate. That system is Proof-of-stake. How does it work? The PoS mining system allows users to stake their crypto coins to get a random chance of being a block validator. This random selection will therefore eliminate the need for servers that solve highly complex puzzles. Therefore, less energy consumption. 

    Batch Minting/Lazy Minting

    Lazy Minting

    A good approach to lower the energy consumption of NFTs is to reduce the number of transactions. Batch minting is the process of minting NFTs in large batches making them a part of the same transactions. Thus, lowering the energy consumption of several minting processes. Users can also opt for lazy minting, where the NFT is not minted until it is sold. That lowers the number of transactions done for one collection. That means being lazy for once can result in lowering the carbon footprint!

    Energy-efficient Blockchains 

    After the excessive pressure and backlash from the community regarding the climate impact, the Ethereum blockchain has evolved in a positive way. On September 14, 2022, the second-largest blockchain migrated to a Proof-of-stake consensus that promises the cut energy consumption by up to 99%. Solana also uses a PoS consensus mechanism in order to reduce its energy demand. Therefore, marketplaces like Magic Eden are built upon PoS. 

    Rarible, another big NFT marketplace runs on the Tezos blockchain. Tezos is by far the least energy-consuming blockchain to ever exist. It uses a liquid proof-of-stake mechanism that uses far less energy than Ethereum. Many several blockchains also opted for minimal energy use, like Algorand and Cardano

    Therefore, there are a lot of marketplaces to choose from if you are considering more eco-friendly NFTs. 

    Eco Friendly NFT Collections

    Regardless of whether or not a blockchain is considering minimal energy usage, some NFT projects are trying to create a positive and more direct impact on the environment. These projects employ in their core mission the positive environmental effects of NFTs and promote climate change awareness. 

    Zeedz

    Zeedz NFT eco friendly nfts

    Zeedz is a play-for-purpose game that aims to raise awareness for global warming and climate change. How? Zeedz will connect game features to real-life weather phenomena, making it a whole educational experience. Zeedz is where “players reduce global carbon emissions by collecting plant-inspired creatures: Zeedles”. These eco-friendly NFTs’ mission is to implement carbon offsetting of 4.3Mt CO2 and alter people’s views on the significant matter of climate change. Part of all in-game purchases will go to non-profit organizations. In the world of Zeedz, you can do several eco friendly activities, such as:

    • Planting a Zeed and collecting it as a Zeedle that lives on an eco-friendly blockchain. 
    • Grow your Zeedle by providing it with water and care in a weather-based location. The more you grow your Zeedle, the more valuable it becomes. 
    • Contributing to NGOs concerning climate change by making in-game purchases. 

    Zeedz is a game available both on iOS and Android devices. Zeedles are cute little plant-based monsters that battle real-world weather events. The alpha app is already available in app stores. 

    Coral Tribe

    Coral Tribe NFT

    Coral Tribe is an NFT project that aims at saving the environment by donating 50% of the proceeds to the Impact Fund. The Impact Fund is a community-led organization that invests in projects that aim for natural conservation. Moreover, Coral Tribe is to collaborate with several sustainable brands. The project has already planted 1,500 corals worldwide and intends to expand the number to 3,000. The Coral Tribe project plans to provide educational, economic, and recreational opportunities to NFT holders. 

    This eco friendly NFT collection consists of 6,565 NFTs that are designed as futuristic coral characters. The collection uses Solana with 1.35 SOL as a floor price. The collection has already secured 3,600+ SOL! The Coral Tribe website has a section that details how the proceeds will be invested to “revive the wild”. Being a holder of a Coral Tribe NFT will grant you community access, AQUA tokens for staking your Coral, governance privileges, and Impact Fund rewards. 

    TreeDefi

    TreeDefi eco friendly NFTs

    TreeDefi is an upcoming Web3 project that mints NFTs, or NFTrees, that have a direct relation with trees in real life. For instance, for each NFT tree, a real-life tree will be planted. Each NFTree comes with its own dashboard that lets you identify with its name, birth date, place, and how much CO2 it absorbs. Therefore, investing in these eco friendly NFTs will allow the offsetting of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. 

    The first collection encompasses 9 NFTrees that are filtered into tree type, country, CO2 offset range, and price. The project’s goal is to lower the carbon footprint generated by cryptocurrencies. The donations of proceeds go to trusted organizations like TeamTrees, Trees for the Future, One Tree Planted, and Treedom. The donations make up ⅓ of all the proceeds. 

    Eco-Friendly NFTs: A New Era of Sustainability

    Even though the blockchain has a negative effect on the environment, a good outlook is to put things into perspective. To be fair, we go on about our day-to-day without even questioning how much of the global industries consume energy. Let me break it to you, it is WAY more than what the blockchain is consuming. Even data centers like Apple or Google consume much more energy. It is even easy to blame NFTs solely for the large energy consumption instead of realizing that NFT transactions make up a smart portion of the ordeal. 

    This is not to say that NFTs and the blockchain have no severe impact on the environment. But Web3 projects are actually taking the initiative to reduce energy consumption and lowering carbon emissions. Are giant industries doing the same? Not really. Ethereum moving from PoW to PoS consensus says A LOT about where Web3 technologies are heading. Not to mention the emergence of eco-friendly NFT projects and initiatives. This new era is still in its infancy stage, and it’s already trying a more sustainable approach. The blockchain might let us have a chance to revolutionize how we consume energy. And it’s just the beginning!

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