As we discussed in the previous article, NFT Sustainability Part One: Defining the Problem, there are huge environmental costs associated with minting and transferring NFTs. This is especially true for NFTs created using energy-intensive methods, such as the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, which results in an increased carbon footprint. The “work” in proof-of-work comes in the form of mining, where crypto miners expend a great deal of energy in the form of computing power. It’s this process that has such a detrimental effect on the environment.
Minting an NFT doesn’t have to use vast amounts of energy. NFTs that are created using the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism are designed to limit harm to the environment. The good news is that there are a growing number of blockchain platforms that use consensus mechanisms which consume far less energy. In addition, minimizing the environmental impact of NFT creation comes with another significant benefit - lower gas fees. Gas fees are the payments each purchaser must make to access a blockchain network, and the fees are tied to the platform’s energy usage.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of energy efficient blockchain platforms and environmentally-friendly initiatives that help combat climate change and environmental concerns.
Algorand, the official blockchain platform of FIFA, is a proof-of-stake blockchain technology company. Designed to be one of the most efficient and greenest blockchains available, Algorand was built as a green blockchain with an environmental impact focus since its genesis. Algorand’s founder, Silvio Micali, explained as far back as 2018 his focus on sustainability with next generation technology. “Algorand developed a public blockchain that runs on a version of proof-of-stake, which drives electricity consumption to almost zero…on a fundamental level,” Silvio Micali said, “I care about the planet.” The Algorand blockchain supports Aorist, a climate-focused NFT blockchain for artists, in addition to several other NFT marketplaces, such as Algogems.
Cardano is another blockchain platform that is known to be environmentally-friendly. Cardano is built on the Ouroboros proof-of-stake consensus protocol. Ouroboros is the first provably secure proof-of-stake protocol, and the first blockchain protocol to be based on peer-reviewed research. Cardano is the first blockchain to implement it. Ouroboros enables the Cardano network’s decentralization, and allows it to sustainably scale to global requirements without compromising security. NFT marketplaces hosted on Cardano include CNFT and Galaxy of Art.
Flow is a proof-of-stake blockchain platform designed to be the foundation of Web3 and the open metaverse, supporting consumer-scale decentralized applications, NFTs, DeFi, DAOs, PFP projects, and more. With Flow’s proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, minting an NFT requires less energy than an Instagram post.
The Hedera proof-of-stake public network is a sustainable, enterprise-grade public network for the decentralized economy. Hedera has adopted environmental sustainability as a core value and is committed to carbon-negative network operations by purchasing carbon offsets quarterly, with amounts determined by a third-party assessment provider. The Aria Exchange, which uses the Hedera Hashgraph network to create its tokens, recently partnered with the National Basketball Retired Players Association to bring NFTs to market. “We’ve created the most advanced, sustainable NFT exchange that addresses crypto climate concerns while giving collectors and consumers unparalleled experiences and content,” said Darren Mann, the co-CEO of the Aria Network.
OneOf is a green NFT platform that is deeply committed to a sustainable and inclusive blockchain future. OneOf is a platform that supports NFTs on multiple energy-efficient blockchains, connecting fans and collectors to iconic musicians, athletes and brands. This platform provides credit card integration and purchasing NFTs costs $0 in blockchain gas fees. Minting an NFT on OneOf's platform uses up to 2 million times less energy than proof-of-work networks. A leader in diversity, over 80% of the collections curated by OneOf come from minority or female creators.
Solana is a public blockchain platform with smart contract functionality. In May 2021, the Solana Foundation contracted an energy and climate advisor to help frame the environmental impact of transactions performed on the Solana decentralized blockchain. Transactions are the fundamental building blocks of Solana: Purchasing an NFT, making a trade, or other activities you can perform using Solana are all transactions. As a proof-of-stake network, the security of the Solana network is not dependent on energy usage. On this platform, there is no need for energy-intensive mining, meaning the network is extremely environmentally efficient. The Solana blockchain supports a broad range of NFT marketplaces, including Magic Eden and Solanart.