Earth’s climate is becoming more hostile to human life.

The last seven years are the hottest on record, rising sea levels are threatening coastal communities, and extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common. Those are just a few of the many alarming signs the science community has pointed to for decades, while behaviors and industries have continued to chug along as if nothing is changing.

As people building the future of NFTs, collectibles, and art, it would be negligent to ignore the potentially massive impact design decisions we make today can have on generations to come.

Essentially, if you can build a secure, decentralized, and performant platform that contributes to the solution to this crisis, why wouldn’t you?

The Avalanche public blockchain does exactly this

Avalanche is an eco-friendly crypto that takes an efficient, zero-waste approach to validating a global network supporting billions of dollars in value. It empowers individuals and institutions such as ourselves to launch assets and applications that benefit from the potential of decentralization without compromising their own values or compounding the climate crisis.

It makes everything from NFTs to complex decentralized finance applications to simple peer-to-peer payments into powerful, sustainable technologies that do right by people and the planet.

Taking it a step further, Ava Labs, a team supporting development of the Avalanche public blockchain, offset the total annual carbon output of the entire Avalanche network at COP26 this year. It is now a net-zero blockchain, heralding a new era of sustainable, net-zero digital transactions.

How does it get the job done without all the waste? Let’s dive in.

Avalanche Consensus

Avalanche Consensus is the first major scientific breakthrough in the field of distributed systems since Bitcoin. It delivers a new, lightweight mechanism for near-instant confirmation of transactions with higher security guarantees than existing platforms and low hardware requirements that enable people around the world to participate in the network.

Whereas many cryptocurrency networks require expensive, high-powered technology to participate in validating network activity, Avalanche is so lightweight that some validators even use old computers that had been collecting dust. Bonus green points for recycling existing hardware.

As a function of the protocol design, Avalanche validators only work when there is work to be done. Transactions are broadcast to the wider network where the validators “hear” them and begin voting. If there are no transactions to vote on, the validators rest, waiting to hear the next transactions. That means no constant mining or active calling out to discover new blocks. Simply put, Avalanche validators work smarter, not harder.

In addition to the protocol design, Avalanche uses “proof-of-stake” (PoS) as a security mechanism to deter bad actors rather than “proof-of-work” (PoW).

At a high-level, proof-of-stake requires anyone who wants to have a say in the network’s status as a validator to put skin in the game by locking their own tokens ($AVAX) in the protocol, a process known as staking. The network protocol weighs the influence of that validator based on the amount of stake they have contributed. If this party then decides they want to attack the network, they’d cause their own assets to plummet in value, causing significant financial damage to themselves.

In proof-of-work systems, like Bitcoin and Ethereum 1.0, validators confirming network activity and status participate in a mechanism called mining. Mining forces validators to expend enormous amounts of real world electricity and resources to make the cost of attacking the network prohibitively high. It achieves its mission, but there are significant questions about the environmental impact still being heavily researched.

Avalanche embraces proof-of-stake to be green and environmentally friendly, but combined with the protocol design, Avalanche is a step ahead of other PoS platforms.

The Big NFT Question

Perhaps no segment of the crypto ecosystem has reached the masses faster than non-fungible tokens (NFTs), leading many curious individuals to dig into the specifics of how they work and look for potential flaws in their due diligence.

In addition to breaking records for art sales and baffling many who don’t quite get “it”, NFTs have opened opportunities for artists and creators to combine the brand building enabled by the internet with the borderless economics of cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

However, a frequent criticism of NFTs is their environmental impact, particularly on Ethereum. One digital art platform even canceled its plans to launch NFT support after its community raised environmental concerns.

Digital artist Memo Akten is one creator who looked deeper into the ecological costs of NFTs on Ethereum, and found that the carbon footprint of an average single-edition NFT is equivalent to driving a petrol car for 1,000 kilometres.

At Particle, we could not look to start building our vision of the future of art collecting on a foundation we did not see as fit for the future. After a long tender process with other chains and evaluating them on a variety of factors – from speed and cost-effectiveness to environmental impact, Avalanche clearly came out ahead.

Avalanche has all of the same asset functionality for NFTs on Ethereum without any of the environmental downsides of Ethereum’s current proof-of-work based system. There are even some unique standards and features only possible on Avalanche.

The Way Forward

With each new asset, application, and adopter choosing to use Avalanche over less efficient platforms, its real-world impact as a green technology grows. Users and developers access the highest performance decentralized network in crypto while contributing to a global solution to today’s climate crisis.

The Avalanche foundation is continuing to research its environmental impact against other platforms and optimizing further for energy usage.

If Avalanche continues to grow at this pace, it will not only have a significant, positive impact on individuals’ access to financial services and NFTs, but also the air we breathe and water we share. At Particle, we are proud to support this vision.