About the World by Juanita Scerri

How To Sell NFTs While Staying Eco-friendly

Karina Bocchicchio June 22 2022


NFTs are now the trendiest way to sell art online. Here's what every independent artist needs to know to stay eco-friendly when entering the NFT space

As the climate crisis gets worse by the day, many artists are looking for more ways to produce sustainable art. At first glance, NFTs seem like a viable option; independent artists can sell art online at competitive prices, while art enthusiasts can claim ownership of their digital purchases. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. If you’re still unsure about what NFTs are, feel free to read our previous blog post. For now, we'll guide you through what makes NFTs bad for the environment and how you can venture into the space without increasing your carbon footprint.

Are NFTs Eco-Friendly?

The short answer: no. The reason NFTs are so damaging to the environment is not because of the NFT itself, but the way they are verified and sold.

The majority of NFTs are minted through Ethereum, a cryptocurrency platform that uses Proof of Work to verify blockchain transactions. This means that to mine a block, computers compete to solve a mathematical problem generated every ten minutes. While these problems are solvable, it requires a tremendous amount of computing power. Additionally, miners are incentivized to pool their computing power so they are more likely to mine a single block.

So how much energy does it take to mine an NFT? On average, an Ethereum NFT consumes about 142 kWh of energy every time it's minted, bought, and sold. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, about a thousand new NFTs are minted per day and can range between 15,000 to 50,000 sales per week. In comparison, the average American household consumed 30 kWh per day in 2019.

Unfortunately, this high energy consumption is an intentional security feature. Since it lacks the regulation of banks and other third parties, cryptocurrency platforms need a way to protect their users from fraudulent transactions. The high amount of energy needed to mine a block is meant to deter bad actors from taking advantage of crypto users.

Fortunately, here are a few things you can do as an independent artist to enter the NFT space while staying environmentally friendly.

1. Proof of Stake Platforms:

While it may be the most popular, Ethereum isn't the only platform that mints NFTs. Other NFT platforms like Flow, Polygon, and Polkadot use the Proof of Stake method, allowing crypto users to validate transactions by using some of their coins as collateral. Should a user make a mistake or intentionally misrepresent the transaction, they would lose their stake. Because validations don't need an intense amount of computing power, this method is much more energy-efficient. Ethereum has been saying that they would be changing their platform to Proof of Stake, but they have been saying this for a while with little action to show they would implement this change anytime soon.

2. Renewable energy platforms:

Along with finding platforms that use Proof of Stake, you could check how the platform sources its energy. Companies like CurrencyWorks work with NFT platforms to provide them with renewable energy. This Canadian company collects waste from Albertan oil drills and converts it to thermal energy. There are also platforms that are powered by traditional renewable energy, such as solar power or hydropower.

3. Layer 2 solutions:

If the above solutions are not the right fix, you could use blockchains that implement layer 2 solutions. Rather than expending energy for every transaction, layer 2 solutions let you mine a block after the final transaction is completed. While this doesn’t diminish the energy it takes to mine a block, it does reduce the number of blocks that need to be mined.

4. Carbon neutral art:

Many Crypto artists have been leading the call for making the NFT space greener. Some artists have auctioned their art to raise money for clean NTF solutions, while others have posted a reward for those who can create new eco-friendly solutions. Regardless of their methods, many artists have been calculating how much carbon their NFT transactions cost, then investing their money in green solutions to make their art Carbon Neutral. You could use sites like Carbon.fyi to calculate what it would take to make your NFT art sustainable.

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wlande199925 replied 1 week ago Such a great piece, and very relevant to what Bidgala is building now :)