Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) have taken the fashion world by storm. In the past 18 months, some of the biggest fashion brands in the world have released NFTs, including adidas, Balmain and Burberry.

And because NFT’s are digital, many assume that they don’t have environmental impact. Yet, research has revealed that the transactions for adidas ‘Into the Metaverse’ NFT drop used more electricity than 2.5k US homes would in one year.

With fashion and sustainability currently a hot button topic, it will not behoove industry leaders into looking at the environmental impact of NFT’s which is currently fashion’s new darling. Because NFT’s carbon footprint is very significant.

Like cryptocurrency, NFTs require large amounts of energy. The Digiconomist ‘Ethereum Energy Consumption Index’ found that every proof of work transaction taking place uses more than 260 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. This is equivalent to the average U.S household over nine days.

To see the environmental impact of NFT drops from some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, TRG Datacenters has analyzed 10 specific NFT releases from 10 well known fashion brands and estimated how many kilowatt hours (kWh) all the transactions of each launch consumed.

Based on their research, the adidas ‘Into the Metaverse’ NFTs, which were launched in partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comics and GMoney, were the least environmentally friendly. They sold almost 30,000 NFTs which made 5,924 ETH, roughly over $23 million in profits.

Each NFT cost an average of 0.8 ETH, which equated to about $765 at the time. Due to the substantial amount of transactions related to adidas’ release – and the fact that gas prices were high at the time of research – we found that this would use around 25,000,000 kWh.

To put it into perspective, in 2020 ‘the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kWh’, so the transactions of adidas’ NFT drop alone used more electricity than 2,500 US homes would in one year.

Of those analyzed, the most environmentally friendly NFT release was from Balmain. The French fashion house introduced Barbie to the digital art world with ‘authentic pieces of collectible, digital fashion’.

Buyers could purchase the three unique Barbie avatars wearing digital versions of the collection via an auction, with the highest bid being $20,000. The top bidders also received a physical set of doll-sized Balmain clothing.

Each NFT used 1 kWh per NFT, which was all down to the blockchain they used: Flow. Flow blockchain provides environment-friendly transactions with little to no fee – in a 2021 tweet they claimed “Flow leverages an environment-friendly design via Proof-of-Stake that consumes thousands of times less energy than Proof-of-Work blockchains like the current Ethereum network”.

The 10 NFTs from least to most environmentally friendly were:

Brand NFT Blockchain Price kWh
adidas Into the Metaverse ETH Average Sale Price = 0.8, Current sale price 1.009 25,000,000
Nike Cryptokicks ETH Average Sale Price = 6.7 672,810
Burberry Blankos Block Party ETH Average Sale Price = 0.0558 379,562
Gucci Gucci Aria & Super Gucci ETH Average sale Price = 12.7 324,037
Louis Vuitton Louis: The Game ETH Free giveaway 20,000
Asics Sunrise Red Collection ETH Average Sale Price = 0.47 17,518
Dolce & Gabbana Nine-piece collection ETH Average sale Price = 209 17,014
Ray-Ban x Extraweg The first ever NFT Ray-Ban Aviator ETH Sale Price = 1.8 1,824
GAP DAP x GAP collaboration XTZ Average Sale Price = 31, floor Price=0.46 1
Balmain x Barbie Barbie tries a new look: NFTs Flow Highest bid around 20,000 Less than 1