Sustainability vs. NFTs: How to combine the ‘uncombinable’?

5 min readOct 11, 2022


This article is motivated by some of the comments I received in one of the sustainability-related subreddits when I posted the concept of our project. Thankfully this has not discouraged our team from proceeding with the work but only motivated us to further improve the idea and do our best to educate more people on the topic of sustainability and NFT. Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude to the NFT Talents team of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center. This article was written with their encouragement and support, and I am forever grateful for being part of the program’s first cohort.

With the rise of social media, it is effortless for your company to reach the target audience with a simple Reddit post. This is what I did when we started developing the concept of susteam. I have always heard very theoretical concepts of sustainability and its goals due to my studies and general interest; however, apart from the occasional “leave your towels on the floor if you want them washed” sign at some of the hotels, I have never met any actual indicators whether the companies I choose are green. That is how the concept of susteam was born. We simply wanted to create an open platform to display sustainable scores to the general public free of charge. Such an idea is very appealing to sustainability enthusiasts, as is the project team. However, we still had another issue to face: How to educate and motivate guests to become more environmentally conscious? That is why we decided to incorporate NFT badges for the guests who visit the hotels listed on the platform. But what is the additional value in that? From the top of my head, there are three simple reasons why:

1. Attract NFT enthusiasts like myself

2. Created a bridge between general public and NFTs by showing that they are not bad or scary

3. Give value to simple collectable badges/stamps and potentially reward those who own them

Currently, we are expanding our initial idea. We are striving to create a ranking platform for different industries as we believe there is a great need.

Coming back to why I am writing this article, I pitched the idea in one of the sustainability subreddits to get some customer feedback. Let’s discuss the outcomes and address some of the concerns.

As a side note, I am deliberately not including names in the screenshots to protect users’ privacy.

First and foremost, I want to address the most saddening comment:

Due to strong involvement with air travel, many people consider tourism far from the sustainability industry, which is partially true. The sector has obvious negative environmental implications, such as the production of trash and the release of greenhouse gases, which are not easily prevented. Tourism may also contribute to energy and water shortages, pollution, and damage to ecosystems. That is why susteam aims to prioritise local and eco-conscious travel. Moreover, people tend to forget that sustainability does not only mean environmental friendliness. Nowadays, tourism is one of the largest job providers in the world and has proven its ability to assist job creation, advance social inclusion, safeguard natural and historical assets, preserve biodiversity, produce sustainable livelihoods, and enhance human welfare when it is planned and managed appropriately. And lastly, if something is “not sustainable,” the last thing to do is to give up and do nothing about it. I encourage every reader to work even harder to improve the situation and to create the future we will be proud to live in!

If we narrow the sustainability topic down to NFTs, the conversation revolves around the Proof-of-work vs. Proof-of-stake topic. Previously, miners verified transactions on the Ethereum blockchain under the prior proof-of-work protocol. Transactions were collected by miners and posted to the Ethereum blockchain as ordered blocks. In Proof-of-Stake, validators are used instead of miners. These serve the same purpose as miners, but rather than placing their funds in energy up front, they stake ETH as insurance against the dishonest activity. With the recent MERGE the previous amount of Ethereum’s energy consumption was reduced by 99.95%, which means that the overall energy required to secure Ethereum is anticipated to be less than 0.01 TW/year.

susteam is choosing Layer 2 of the Ethereum blockchain called Polygon as we see its best fit to the needs of the company. This sidechain supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine, allowing the same functionality as the Mainnet. Its benefits, however, are lower costs and scalability. At least, in the beginning, we need to offer the NFTs free of charge to our customers to establish trust and higher engagement with the platform.

Lastly, a significant number of people have reservations about blockchain technology in general. It would be silly of me to simply state that these claims are wrong. That is why I decided to create this article as the first step in our journey to challenge some of the ideas the “NFT skeptics” currently have.

It is promising to be challenging to convince the mass public to give up some of the daily habits that they have grown accustomed to and to encourage them to turn towards a sustainable lifestyle. It seems even more challenging to educate people about NFTs and to destroy the prejudice many have against the technology. Many blockchain enthusiasts already follow an eco-friendly lifestyle, and I want to believe that we will be able to motivate even more to do so. When it comes to the “green” customers, our primary goal is to show them why some of their concerns might be wrong and become the platform that will establish a bridge for them to Web3. We will do our best to reach this goal!

Thank you for reading this article!

If you like the idea, you are encouraged to follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram, and we will do our best to deliver!

You are also welcome to follow me on Medium, and I will do my best to create more posts like this on the topics that I find interesting.