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In a literal sense, sustainability is about creating a system of permanence. When determining if something is sustainable, you're asking: is this project, product or service a replicable component of a system that can last forever? Sustainable cryptocurrencies do not exist within that framework.

But most things are not sustainable. In this period of growth centered around sustainable systems, it is more worthwhile to focus on what projects are building the future and how they are framing themselves to fit within the mold of a more sustainable future.

Here are 10 cryptocurrencies I think are trying to be more sustainable.

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If you want to decarbonize the economy, carbon offsets don't work. Here's why.

Despite doubling in price the last 18 months, carbon offset prices are cheap (relative to the cost of reducing emissions). Carbon offsets should and will be much more expensive. For now, because they're so cheap, carbon credits act more like a marketing tool than a social good.

The little secret?

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This week, I had the chance to sit down with Madison Rifkin, founder of Mount. Mount is a SaaS platform that enables private property (think airbnb) to launch, track and monetize their guest amenities. Those amenities can include things like bikes and e-scooters.

Mount allows travelers to use more sustainable modes of short distance travel in place of ubers or car rentals. And it accomplishes this without causing a scooter-frenzied-tourist headache for city administrators, because all of the equipment is completely owned and controlled by the host.

If you'd like to learn more about Mount and how they're disrupting the hospitality industry, check out the full Q&A below.

Check out our full interview.

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Big picture: GM announced plans to release an electric Hummer in 2023. It got me thinking, is it time to make the switch to electric vehicles?

Benefit of electric vehicles:

  1. Lower carbon footprint... social impact ✓
  2. Lower maintenance costs... convenience factor ✓
  3. Tax credits... financial incentive ✓

Cost of electric vehicles:

  1. EVs require minerals like cobalt and lithium to function. Mineral mining is a tough industry with poor standards in developing countries like Bolivia and Chile. Organizations are working to change that.
  2. Electric vehicles have a limited driving range compared to their gas cousins. You may find yourself charging up more than usual.
  3. High sticker prices: The average price of a new electric vehicle is almost double the price of a gas car.
  4. Limited amount of charging stations: this is a tricky one, because there are still more charging stations per EV on the road than there are gas stations for gas cars. Unless you go on a road trip, most of your charging will probably be at home anyway.

Bottom line: With billions of dollars flowing in, electric vehicles are not only here to stay, they are booming.

If you 1) need a car in your life 2) want to be a part of a cleaner future and 3) can afford the extra monthly cost (for now), then making a switch to electric vehicles is the right thing to do.

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The scoop: Overpopulation is a myth... because Jack Ma and Elon Musk said so. On a more serious note, a population collapse is more likely than an overpopulated planet.

Some talking points for the dinner table:

  1. Overcrowded cities ≠ overcrowded planet. The entire world population can fit in the state of Texas with the same population density as Manhattan.
  2. Lopsided populations will inevitably occur in modern advanced nations. That means young workers will be unable to support aging populations, causing natural population declines.
  3. 'Malthusian traps' refer to inevitable food shortages as populations grow. Either Malthus was right and some of us go hungry (as in we don't need to artificially halt population growth), or he's wrong and the population keeps growing sustainably through innovation.

Bottom line: The Earth has plenty to offer for 9 billion mouths. And a sustained population decline due to lower fertility rates is already becoming a realistic outcome. We just need to spread out more.

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The scoop: Food takeout and delivery accounts for considerable waste. About 29% of all greenhouse emissions come from packaging. And food takeout uses a lot of packaging.

Takeout packaging: You want a burrito? Let me wrap that in foil for you. Here's some plastic utensils and paper napkins wrapped in plastic to go along with your hand-held meal. Ok, now here are three packs of ketchup and hot sauce you didn't ask for because you have condiments at home. Let me put that in a paper bag placed in a plastic bag for you... even though you are about to eat it.

Sustainable solutions: Reduce and reuse. Buy in bulk. Use bulk alternatives when on the go. Shop at restaurants that use sustainable alternatives like plant fibers for their packaging. If you have a good relationship with your local food business, talk to them about affordable options.

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The scoop: Biking connects billions of people from around the world. It can be a great tool to reduce personal carbon footprints too. But not all bike companies focus on ethics and sustainability.

The manufacturing problem: Since the 2000s, most bikes are manufactured in Asia, where workers’ rights are less transparent. It is difficult to track worker conditions in these parts of the world.

Steel requires energy: Metal itself can be sustainable, but certain forms of steel require lots of energy to extrapolate. It is important to look for sustainably-sourced steel.

Read below for a full list of ethical bike manufacturers.

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The scoop: Patagonia is a forward-thinking billion-dollar brand. But there is always work to be done. Let's see how they chalk up.

Is Patagonia sustainable?

  • Patagonia uses mostly recycled materials.
  • They have a lifetime return and repair program for all of their products.
  • Patagonia still uses animals in their supply chain, but they try to do it as responsibly as possible. I'd rather see no animal use.
  • They are slightly above average when it comes to labor conditions.
  • Patagonia looks to go carbon neutral by 2025.

Zoom out: Patagonia hits on the environmental side, but they have some work to do, especially regarding transparency & ethics surrounding suppliers and animal welfare.

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The scoop: NFTs went mainstream. Now more people are starting to realize Ethereum has a sustainable energy problem. There is a solution.

Not all blockchains are the same: Bitcoin uses about 1% of the world’s electricity. Ethereum is the second largest coin and runs on a similar model as Bitcoin. Neither are energy efficient.

Still, blockchain technology as a whole operates under many different consensus algorithms. Bitcoin and Ethereum’s proof-of-work model is just one version.

Sustainable proposals: Convert mining facilities to use more renewable forms of energy. That’s a good place to start.

More effectively, big coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum can operate using a proof-of-stake model to be more sustainable. This would allow fewer nodes (computers) to validate transactions on the public ledger and increase the energy efficiency of their blockchains.

Finally, emerging coins should look to more efficient consensus algos like Ripple as a model for sustainable crypto. That would propel the industry forward.

Bottom line: Progress is happening. There are existing solutions. The blockchain industry just needs a little nudge to do better.

Dig deeper → 3 min

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