When it comes to the environment, NFTs have a bad reputation — much of it undeserved. At the height of the “NFTs harm the environment” frenzy in mid-2022, wildly uncontextualized claims about single blockchain transactions consuming as much energy as a mid-sized house does in three days proliferated across the Twitter-sphere.
Two things have slowly but steadily begun to dislodge such misconceptions. The first is a growing understanding of blockchain technology and where various chains’ energy needs fit into the broader picture of human endeavors that require industry. The second is the Ethereum merge, which saw the second-largest blockchain reduce its energy consumption by an astounding 99.5 percent in September.
But this is just one side of the coin. Web3 enthusiasts aren’t just doing their best to mitigate blockchain’s negative impact on the environment; they’re actively using NFTs to benefit and better it. Here are four examples of when NFTs helped give the planet (and the animals living on it) a win.
WWF drops NFT collection to fund conversation efforts
In November 2021, Germany’s World Wildlife Foundation dropped Non-Fungible Animals, its NFT collection aimed at raising money to help keep acutely endangered species from going extinct. The collection highlights ten endangered species, including the Amur tiger, giant ibis, mountain gorilla, Persian leopard, and the vaquita, the smallest whale species in the world.
Released on the Polygon blockchain, the WWF set the number of editions for each animal’s NFT at the approximate number of each species that still exist in the wild. For the vaquita, for example, that number is just 22. A different artist created each animal’s NFT, and the collection features work by Anna Rupprecht, Etienne Kiefer, Andres Ribon, Bosslogic, and more. So far, the organization has raised over €270,000 from the drop. While some of the collection’s NFTs (like the vaquita) are sold out, several have editions left to buy, so don’t miss out on the chance to help an endangered species return from the brink.
Combatting land degradation in Africa
In the summer of 2021, Kaloscope metaverse platform founder Kirck Allen founded The Great NFTrees project to help fight against land degradation on the African continent. When its initial collection launches, the project will allow users to purchase tree NFTs connected to geo-tagged locations of real trees planted in Africa’s Great Green Wall. The wall is the world’s largest carbon capture project and aims to grow one trillion trees across an 8,000 km stretch of land in Africa.
NFTs in the Great NFTrees collection will connect to one of three species in the Great Green Wall: baobab, acacia, and shea. After collecting an NFT, buyers will be able to display their digital assets in their Kaloscope metaverse space, which itself will be an individual NFT. Earlier this year, Kaloscope announced it would add William Kwende to its board as Strategic Sustainability Advisor. Kwende is well-known in sustainability circles, having founded Agritech in 2005, a company that focuses on hitting sustainable development goals by training farmers in the West African Sahel. Kwende also leads the Great Green Wall initiative with the World Economic Forum and the United Nations.
Ninety percent of revenue from The Great NFTrees drop, scheduled to go live in 2023, will go toward the Great Green Wall project. The remaining 10 percent will be directed to covering administrative costs. Kaleidoscope plans on letting collectors purchase the NFTs with a variety of cryptocurrencies.
Bringing animals back from extinction
In the summer of 2022, Spix’s Macaw became the first species to go “unextinct.” After disappearing from the wild and spending 22 years in captivity being rehabilitated, a group of the iconic blue birds was released into the forests of Bahia state, Brazil, on June 11. Celebrating this significant moment in animal conservation, photographer Tim Flach collaborated with Atlas Labs and the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) for his inaugural NFT project: Project Unextinct — a collection of images of Spix’s Macaw.
Flach and Atlas Labs dropped the collection on Nifty Gateway. Three of the six images were 1/1 NFTs that sold for over $22,000 each, with two more editions of ten selling for $300 and $450 each. One edition of 25 photography NFT remains available in the collection at $999 a piece, so if you’re looking to make a positive difference in the world through Web3, now’s a great time to do it.
Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo launches NFT collection
In June 2022, the Australia Zoo partnered with green NFT startup Meadow Labs to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Steve Irwin-founded conservation organization Wildlife Warriors with an NFT drop.
With prices starting at $50 AUD ($36.13 USD), the Australia Zoo released 2,000 Warrior Crocs tokens that resembled members of the Irwin family in some way. Speaking with nft now, Meadow Labs co-founder and CEO Martin Kelly said that the genesis for the project “came from wanting to use NFTs for good.” Highlighting this desire is the fact that the drop took place on the world’s first carbon-negative blockchain, Algorand. Meadow Labs pledged 100 percent of primary sales toward funding Wildlife Warriors and The Australia Zoo. The drop is the first of a planned five-part NFT animal collectibles series which includes koalas, echidnas, turtles, and wombats.