This article is about exploring Eco-friendly NFT Galleries for Cryptoart (inspired by Memo's post on Github). Cryptoart is all the rage at the moment but it comes with a high energy cost and carbon footprint. Although that cost has been exaggerated in some blog articles that are circulating( I'll post a link below), it is still worrisome while we are in a climate change crisis.
How Crytpoart Works | What's NFT art?
Crypto art or NFT (non-fungible tokens) are a new type of digital asset. The ownership of these assets are recorded on a blockchain digital ledger that sits on the back of cryptocurrency. NFTs can be any type of digital asset jpg, MP4, PNG, MP3, Etc. Now, this ledger proves without a doubt who owns the NFT. The token is just a link that points to a digital asset that is usually on a server and off the blockchain. The ledger shows the provenance, transaction records, and trading of this NFT.
Is Cryptoart a Good Investment?
Its advantages for collectors are that it's completely secure, forge-proof, safe, and some grant limited reproduction rights. This means people can make money from printing posters, t-shirts, mugs from the art they purchased.
Also, there is a huge secondary market where collectors can flip their NFTs for cryptocurrency and in turn cash out and get real money. Some galleries allow for the artist to receive a commission of the secondary sales as well. It varies per gallery but the standard is about 10%.
Currently, though there's no gallery that allows for commission if it's taken to a different marketplace and sold there. The prime example is if you buy something on Rarible (gallery) and then sell it on Open Sea (gallery) the artist will not get a commission. Though both places are working to change that currently.
This is not a Crytpoart Primer. If you need one please check here: https://justincone.com/posts/nft-skeptics-guide/
and get some more details here about why they are such a big deal:
Is NFT Art Bad For The Environment?
Here are a few articles that talk about the ecological cost and carbon footprint of cryptocurrency and cryptoart.
"Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many other cryptocurrencies use a consensus algorithm known as Proof-of-Work (PoW)¹ ². This allows information to be stored in a distributed, decentralized manner across many nodes in a network (e.g. The Internet), while remaining secure, reliable and dispute-free. (There are alternatives to PoW which are far more efficient, but PoW is currently the most widely used ¹).
Ingeniously idiotic, by design² the PoW algorithm is very compute intensive [1, 2, 3, 40]. The original cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC), is estimated to have annual energy consumption in the range 80–120 TWh [3, 40] which is about ~0.45% of the world’s entire electricity production."
Here's an article that straight-up refutes these calculations and gives ample reasoning and examples. Admittedly, I'm not knowledgeable enough to follow along and check the math from any of these articles. I suspect the truth might lie somewhere in between.
" Electricity consumption of Bitcoin: a market-based and technical analysis estimates 14.19/18.40/27.47 TWh/yr (lower bound/best guess/upper bound) vs. BECI claiming 40.24 TWh/yr as of 11 January 2018."
Suffice it to say, there is an ecological cost to ETH-based NFTs. I'm not sure how high or how low it is.
Enter Eco-friendly NFT Galleries:
"Selling work on a blockchain can be a technically challenging task. For this reason, many platforms and websites have emerged, aiming to make this process as seamless and easy as possible for artists. Unfortunately, currently many of these websites are based on the Ethereum blockchain, which is very inefficient and ecologically costly by design.
But there are more sustainable routes emerging. As the CryptoArt NFT market is exploding in a gold-rush style free-for-all, there is a lack of clear information on the ecological impact of different approaches to NFTs... Currently, these more sustainable platforms do not have the volume of their unsustainable counterparts (i.e. the Ethereum-based platforms). For this reason, collectors and sales are likely to be significantly lower too on the more sustainable alternatives. However, hopefully as more artists migrate to these emerging waters, this can encourage platforms, developers, investors and collectors, to bridge to develop more ecologically friendly and transparent platforms.
Platforms using different blockchains (e.g. using PoS, PoA etc) will generally be hundreds times more efficient. For those wishing to not incur the immense footprints of Ethereum, look for - and support - alternatives...
Hopefully if there is enough demand for sustainable and transparent platforms, this can encourage developers, investors and collectors to invest in and develop these more ecologically friendly alternatives and grow the market.
- Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile , and their values can dramatically fall (or rise). E.g. if you sell a NFT for 1 ETH, which is currently worth ~$1600, the value of ETH could later drop to a few hundred $ in a few months, or even in a few weeks (alternatively, it could rise to two or three thousand $$ too).
- This becomes potentially even more risky (or potentially more rewarding) with cryptocurrencies that have a much smaller market cap (e.g. NEAR, XTZ, AVAX etc), which could die and drop to zero (or go to the moon) in a few weeks."
Top 5 Eco-friendly NFT Galleries for Cryptoart
1. NFTshowroom - open marketplace for digital art
- Blockchain: HIVE
- Open to everybody (not invite-only or curated, but verified)
NST showroom has a simplified system for searching for art. It's a simple grid, and you can filter rights, either private pieces or limited rights. Limited rights give you the right to print, posters, t-shirts, and mugs from purchased NFTs without having to pay any royalties back to the artist. Private, just means you get to display ownership of NFT in your wallet or gallery. You can also filter by Edition if it's a one-to-one or multiple Edition NFT.
Hive is an innovative and forward-looking decentralized blockchain and ecosystem built on the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol. Far more efficient with energy than Ethereum.
A thing that I liked about Hive blockchain is its servers based in Sweden that has sustainable energy solar energy and Quebec that has Hydro energy. * Update 3/30/21 (The links I came across may have been referring to a different Hive Blockchain.) Hive has very very low gas fees. We're talking like a few dollars as opposed to Ethereum backed NFTs which can be $50 or more around there.
I like that it verifies the artist before they can post so it knows that you're not posting other's work. But it is still open to all so any artist can join and be verified in a relatively short time. Entry for beginners low so there is a lot of outsider art on there but there are also seasoned professionals. The one downside is that there is no bidding system as of yet. All art has to be listed at a buy-right-now price. That keeps the pricing relatively low. So you are not going to make $1,000,000 on NFTshowroom arguably. They plan on adding bidding to the platform but it's just not there yet.
If you are based in the US you can't buy Hive straight, you have to have cryptocurrency first then go to an Exchange that has Hive and transfer that currency into Hive. Then you have to deposit that your keychain wallet for your Hive wallet. Your Hive wallet is just the name that you sign up at Hive.io It's a few extra steps for sure, but to me, this looks like the most promising of the Eco-friendly NFT Galleries. If you'd like to try out Hive on NFTShowroom and help me out as well you can use my referral link: https://nftshowroom.com/?r=jcrash
2. SIGN Art - curated marketplace for digital art
- Blockchain: Waves Protocol (WAVES)
- Open application (with a curated option)
- Free minting (Lazy mint on buy request)
Sign Art is really cool gallery that has fixed low fees, free mint on the Waves blockchain, and instant transactions, you don't need a browser plugin. It's mobile-friendly and also offers custom licenses. The lazy minting option means it doesn't mint the token until there is a buy request so unwanted NFTs don't go on the blockchain.
The one thing I really don't like about Sign or else it would be like my top one is just that the gallery system for searching for art is just a horrible experience. It's one of those constantly loading sites like a Tumblr page and gifs are flashing everywhere. There's no organization to it, it is not a good way to search. It's just really obnoxious in nature and unfortunately, that makes it a total no-go for me but it might be for you guys. I just can't look at the art on there due to its just obnoxious presentation.
I did notice there are some high-value pieces on there, probably more so than on NFTshowroom so you can make more money potentially, though I don't believe there is a bidding system. Sign is nice because if you are an artist you can set up a resale royalty and if you're a buyer you can make an offer that is below the asking price. So if you are ballsy you can pick up a bargain. Sign is on the waves blockchain which is highly scalable and offers instant transactions at the low cost of $0.01.
3. Solible - marketplace for redeemable NFTs
Solible is a real-time NFT auction house that is powered by a fully on the blockchain order book. Collectors can put up bids and offers for NFTs as they would trading on a regular market. What's really cool about Solible is that you can off buy physical items on there. The NFTs are redeemable for physical goods that can get shipped to you. You could buy a painting NFT and get the physical painting shipped to you. Their Gallery system is not as good as NFTshowroom's but not as bad as Signs. It is just a simple grid but doesn't really seem to be sortable as the sort options don't work. You have to know what you are looking for ahead of time.
I think Solible is a great option if your artist that makes physical goods and were looking for a secure platform to sell them on. The one thing that annoys me is that when you are buying a piece they don't show it US dollars, just crypto, so you actually don't know how much that thing is. I'm just not going to look up what something costs for every transaction. It's just a turnoff to me. It's a user feature that needs to be improved to be a workable gallery.
"Like all network fees, the cost varies depending on the underlying blockchain and the amount of load it’s under at the moment. With the core technologies of Solana, the average network fees on the Serum DEX is approximately $0.00001 per transaction. This means the current Bonfida Airdrop of 0.004 SOL (~0.00764) can theoretically cover 764 transactions!"
4. Viv3 - open marketplace for digital art
- Blockchain: Flow (by CryptoKitties folks, used by one of the largest NFT platforms, NBA topshots)
- Open application (not invite only or curated)
Vive is a pretty cool Gallery especially if you're into trading cards. UFC, NBA, Video Game Art. Annoying in the same way as Soible in that it doesn't list anything in US dollar prices. There's not much of a gallery to look at unless you want to sign up. Just a few sections on the front of the site. I'm not signing up just to casually look at an Art Gallery site sorry. That's pretty much as far as I got into looking into it. I thought the art was cool but it just too many features that started to turn me off. You should check it out if you're curious about more Trading Card aspect of NFTs and wanted ecologically friendly work.
5. Atomic - open marketplace for all kinds of digital collectibles
- Blockchain: Wax
- open to everybody (not invite only or curated)
Atomic is a very similar Marketplace to Vive it deals mostly in NFT trading cards rather than full Illustrated artwork. There are not a lot of ways to really search the gallery system unless you are a member which for this article I just didn't do. If you're interested in trading cards, it's a platform similar to Vive. If you weren't feeling Vive for whatever reason check out Atomic.
There are of course more eco-friendly NFT galleries out there, these are the main ones that interest me. Please check out that GitHub article for the full list and please let me know the comments if I missed one of your favorite eco-friendly NFT galleries. I want to know about your experiences on these platforms. I'm just really curious if it's a big issue that collectors care about as well. Ultimately I think it will be a long game and it's going to take the interest of the general public to support these Eco-friendly NFT Galleries for us to make an impactful change on NFT's effect on the environment.