Environmentally Sustainable Cryptocurrencies

Sara Illahi
6 min readMay 30, 2021


Recently there has been an outrage on the enormous quantity of carbon dioxide generated by bitcoin — which has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. Statistics show that bitcoin alone generates nearly 37 megatons of carbon dioxide every year. With this rate, it is estimated that by 2050, bitcoin will have increased the overall temperature of the earth by 2 degrees Celsius. It is as alarming as it sounds. However, it is not just bitcoin, the mining of several other types of cryptocurrencies is a deeply energy-intensive process. Does that mean mining cryptocurrencies is lethal to the environment and the mother earth? Not entirely. In today’s day and time, there is an alternative to everything. Similarly, there are alternatives to cryptocurrencies that are detrimental to the environment, too. Those alternatives are called environmentally sustainable cryptocurrencies.

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The question now is, what exactly are environmentally sustainable cryptocurrencies and how do they differ from the rest of the cryptocurrencies? As an intangible asset, it becomes a bit difficult to measure all the parameters and eventually decide which cryptocurrencies are greener and better. Therefore, investors and crypto experts have come up with numerous methods, models, and systems that help you determine which crypto is greener and worth investing in. For instance, cryptocurrencies that consume humongous amounts of energy and electricity usually rely on the PoW (Proof of Work) system, whereas those that consume less energy rely on the PoS (Proof of Storage or Proof of Stake) system. These systems are definitely not the only way to determine how green a certain type of cryptocurrency is, but they certainly can be used for the purpose. Moreover, certain digital currencies that work under the PoW system are also quite energy efficient. Therefore, systems are not the only parameter.

Top 7 Eco Friendly and Environmentally Friendly Cryptocurrencies

As mentioned earlier, bitcoin and other energy-heavy cryptocurrencies are harmful to the environment. So much so that, in China alone, by 2024, bitcoin will have generated 130.50 million metric tons of carbon emission and CO2 is the biggest contributor to the Greenhouse effect — Earth’s natural process of trapping gasses in the atmosphere to warm the Earth. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary harm to the environment, with the help of methods and systems of differentiating between environmentally friendly cryptocurrencies, I have picked out 7 cryptocurrencies that consume less energy, compared to other cryptocurrencies, and have lesser carbon footprints, consequently, less impact on the planet.

1. Nano

Created in 2015, Nano cryptocurrency is one of the newer cryptocurrencies in the market. Unlike the older cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum, Nano is not mined. Therefore, it is presented and rightfully assumed as an environmentally friendly digital currency. Nano came into the spotlight later when crypto experts and those interested in crypto trading realized the mega environmental implications of Bitcoin and its likes.

However, the question here is that if Nano is not mined then how exactly does it work as a digital currency? Well, highly reliant on the PoW system, Nano is built on the Direct Acyclic Graph (DCG) technology. But its core quality — being energy-efficient — lies in its block-lattice architecture. Unlike blockchains, Nano does not track transactions. It, however, accounts balances which means smaller storage requirements hence more efficiency in terms of energy consumption.


With the rise of environmentally friendly cryptocurrencies, currencies like Ethereum are aiming at sustainability and making sustainability the focal point. IOTA is one of the alternatives that have been competing with mega digital currencies like Ethereum. IOTA recognized the environmental implications long ago. Now, using its own technology called Tangle, it has omitted the sheer need for mining energy-extensive blocks.

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Some of the initiatives taken by IOTA that have actually given it an edge in the unpredictable crypto market and also make it a green digital currency are: the use of IOTA to measure sustainability in Chile, funded by the Canadian government, the use of IOTA by Land Rover to trace the path of energy from solar panels, and the use of IOTA in Zebra Technology to improve efficiency in the Supply Chain. These are just a handful of initiatives that IOTA, as a sustainable cryptocurrency, is carrying out.

3. SolarCoin (SLR)

Solar energy is now recognized as one of the cheapest and eco-friendly energy sources in over 150 countries. SolarCoin or (SLR) therefore, is reliant on solar energy and aims to make it free. First introduced in 2014, the production of SolarCoins is such that solar energy producers register their solar installation via their crypto platform or monitoring system. The platform of the monitoring system then starts generating SolarCoin at the rate of 1 SolarCoin per 1 MWh.

The SolarCoins are sent to digital wallets similar to Metamask. Once sent to the wallet, SolarCoins can be used as a currency and traded as well. In fact, SolarCoins can be used as businesses that recognize them and can also be traded for government currencies.

4. Cardano

Cardano is yet again a highly efficient cryptocurrency. Working on the PoS system, Cardano is similar to Ethereum but without the built-in redundancy or bloat, which is also the reason it is so efficient and not energy-intensive. With the recent shock in the crypto market on 17th of May 2021, Cardano with its currency ADA has left behind currencies like Dogecoin and Tether.

As long as sustainability is concerned, Cardano claims to consume 6GWh of power and its mechanism is such that those who intend to participate buy tokens and join the network, which consequently saves energy and power consumption.

5. Stellar

Stellar is one of the top names in the crypto market as a digital currency that is environmentally friendly. Founded in 2014 by the co-founder of Ripple, it is soon going to be upgraded as a currency that allows a borderless open network for trading. The carbon footprint of the transaction of one Stellar transaction is lower than many mega digital currencies.

Stellar was introduced to fill the huge gap between traditional and modern currencies. Today, you can exchange pretty much every traditional currency or crypto using the mighty Stellar network. Stellar’s token is called Lumens which can be bought, sold, and exchanged pretty much everywhere, be it Binance or Bitfinex. The key game-changer in Stellar Lumens is the Consensus Protocol which was first described in 2015. It allows decentralized, leaderless computing networks efficiently to reach an outcome.

6. Chia

Chia is yet again a currency that is widely talked about in the crypto market. Chia was established by the founder of the famous BitTorrent, Bram Cohen. The process of the production of Chia currency was created and designed in such a way that the investors would neither need extra power or energy nor specialized equipment. Chia’s wallet or the platform where transactions are done is known as Mainnet, which can be downloaded from the official website of Chia.

7. EcoCoin

EcoCoin is a project that aims to reduce the environmental implications in the world. It is not that cryptocurrency is only there to worsen the environmental risks facing the Earth, crypto has enough potential to lessen those risks and EcoCoin is one of the many examples of that. The coins that you earn from performing actions that are also sustainable to the environment are stored in digital wallets that are accessible through a mobile platform.

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The overall check and balance of EcoCoin are such that your performed actions are verified and double-checked through smart IOT integration and by certified vendors. EcoCoin has collaborated with various brands such as Booking.com, L’OREAL, etc.



Sara Illahi

BSc. (Hons.) Social Development and Policy @ Habib University’23 I Researcher I Freelancer I American University’18