Non-fungible tokens, or more popularly known as NFTs, are now one of the most desired digital items on the planet. Everyone wants in on the NFT craze, but practically nobody pays any mind to the impact that minting and trading NFTs has on the environment.
Many blockchains upon which NFTs are created and traded are extraordinarily energy inefficient (like Ethereum for example). But on the other hand, we have blockchains like WAX who are absolutely crushing it in terms of being the most energy-efficient blockchain in the world, and now they are taking it a step further by launching carbon offset NFTs.
In this article we are going to dig into what that means, so keep reading to discover why carbon offset NFTs are so important.
What Is WAX?
WAX, or the Worldwide Asset eXchange, is known as the King of NFTs. Launched in 2018, its blockchain network was designed purely for the creation, exchange, and powering of NFTs, which can vary in numerous shapes and forms from digital artwork, collectible memorabilia, trading cards, merchandise, video games, and more. The art of tokenization enables these digital-native items to have a certifiable proof of authenticity, as well as tangible value in the real world.
There are plenty of other benefits as well, such as being able to experiment with new ideas courtesy of digitalization. The popularity of WAX's NFTs has been illustrated more than once in the past, as whole collections with hundreds and thousands of unique items could be sold out within minutes. WAX has partnered with many iconic brands and celebrities, such as the MLB, Capcom's Street Fighter, Deadmau5, Atari, William Shatner, Godzilla, Topps, and so much more.
Not Its First Green Rodeo
WAX's prominence in the NFT world is nothing new, and this is not the first time it's dabbled in projects to perpetuate ecological sustainability. It's worth putting into context that the most computationally heavy blockchains can sometimes take upwards of one average household's entire yearly energy usage just to mint – or create – a single PNG file as an NFT. But with WAX, eco-friendliness is at its core, as it's built on Proof of Stake (PoS) technology versus the protocol developed by other leading blockchains (like Bitcoin) that depend on energy-guzzling mining to operate.
On average, WAX is more than 320,000-times more energy-efficient than Bitcoin, or 125,000-times more energy-efficient than Ethereum, its closest rival for NFT usage and adoption. To give a more numerical value, WAX's average energy consumption to process data on its blockchain is around 0.000223 Terawatts per year, compared to Ethereum's 28, and Bitcoin's seemingly planet melting 72. With its lean architecture, WAX claims that they're already a fully carbon-neutral network.
Overall, the use of WAX for creating, minting, bidding, exchanging, and transacting NFTs has led to more than 4-million tonnes of carbon emissions being offset had the transactions taken place on Ethereum. According to the EPA, those 4-millions tonnes of carbon in the air will take 88.9-million tree seedlings grown for 10 years to absorb that much CO2. In other words, it's equivalent to the emissions footprint of more than 5.9-billion pounds of coal being burnt.
Going The Distance
But WAX isn't content with just that, as they're now working to offset the carbon emissions of NFTs and blockchains outside their own ecosystem as a whole. The goal is no longer to create the most sustainable blockchain as a model for others to follow but to enable its users to play a role in aiding those other networks to cut down on their pollution, too. Come August 2021, WAX will soon release its brand-new collection of Carbon Offset vIRL NFTs.
Once they're launched, these would be the first such tradable carbon impact NFTs. More than keen on improving the greenness of its dirty blockchain compatriots, folks like you and I can buy these NFTs as a bid to keep a hold on our own personal impact on the environment.
Say you're going for a long drive, taking a flight for your summer holiday trip, or are ordering loads of stuff from Amazon, you have the chance to offset the bountiful emissions from each one.
A Huge Impact For Just $1
For every $1 composted (redeemed) through WAX's carbon offset NFTs, the National Forest Foundation will plant one tree sapling, which can offset an average of one tonne worth of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Each NFT card is assigned a dollar value once they've been composted as a vIRL. For example, buying a $5 carbon impact NFT card through WAX will be equivalent to planting five tree saplings. Unlike many other collections on WAX, this particular one isn't limited in number.
This means that WAX's carbon offset collection will always remain available to buy, allowing users to take a chance at reducing their carbon impact at any time. This collection will be featured in four pack sizes, with five individual tree designs, across six unique rarities to collect, and with 30 awesome variations each.
Get Planting ($19.99) – The smallest pack of the bunch, this pack will have eight cards in total, across five $1 cards, and three $5 cards.
Go Greener ($49.99) – A step up, this pack will have 12 cards in total, with five $1 cards, five $5 cards, and two $10 cards.
Think Big ($149.99) – Getting really big now, this pack will feature just two cards, with one $50 card, and one $100 card.
Save The Planet ($199.99) – This is the biggest of the packs, with 18 cards in total, spread across ten $10 cards, four $5 cards, two $10 cards, one $50 card, and one $100 card.
These NFTs can be gifted to others, traded, sold, or composted. When you're ready to offset your carbon emissions, you basically compost the carbon impact NFT to redeem it, which will then plant one tree sapling for each $1 it's worth.
vIRL NFTs – How It All Works
As we mentioned before, WAX's carbon offset NFTs are powered by something called ‘vIRL'. vIRL stands for ‘virtual + In Real Life'. In that sense, vIRLs are digital NFTs that are interconnected with real-world products or services, and can be used beyond their current application to reduce the impact of emissions. On WAX, its carbon impact NFTs powered by vIRLs are redeemable for both a product (a real tree sapling) and a service (planting the tree sapling into the ground) in the real world.
In the future, they can be used elsewhere, such as reducing the growing carbon footprint related to the rise of e-commerce. It can do this by reducing the quantities of packages destined to be shipped around the world (potentially by the millions of individual boxes or parcels), which leads to fewer deliveries needing to be planned and made, fewer trucks and vans needing to crank up to deliver these packages, and fewer packaging wrapper or raw material that ends up in landfills.
By separating ownership from physical possession, vIRL NFTs can enable a person to physically purchase an item in the real world, and then digitally transfer it to another person without needing to physically ship it. vIRL NFTs can take the form of individual goods or services such as shoes, clothes, accessories, furniture, tech items, gadgetry, or other items that you might order and have shipped online. Thus, its use in WAX's carbon offset NFTs is just the beginning.
The news of WAX pivoting towards a highly eco-conscious mission is most welcomed, especially given that the image around blockchains and crypto, in general, has been significantly tainted by its thirsty reputation for high energy usage. Although the green movement is thankfully starting to take shape in the form of using renewable energy sources or changing up to more efficient Proof-of-Stake architectures, more needs to be done. WAX, meanwhile, has already started years ago.
From the very beginning, WAX's blockchain computation has been lean, merely sipping on electric current one droplet at a time. This won't just give users and creators on WAX assurances that buying an NFT won't hurt Mother Earth, but that what they do on WAX may have an impact elsewhere. We now have a choice, with the advent of carbon offset NFTs, to realistically have a way to reduce the impact of the emissions that we may have inadvertently created every single day.
Moreover, if WAX's efforts here gain enough in popularity, it may help to offset the carbon footprint of other blockchain systems and their NFTs as well, not to mention other resource-intensive services such as decentralized finance. Overall, we certainly do hope projects like these start to gain traction, sooner rather than later. Goodness knows that for blockchains and crypto to gain favors with the public, they'll need to solve their dirty energy problem.