Blog Article

How Transparent Environmental Sustainability is Good for Business and Blockchain


Matt Rickard, Caroline Young

Publishing date


It's Climate Week! We wanted to talk to members of the Stellar ecosystem to find out: can blockchain and environmental sustainability co-exist? How does blockchain factor into their plans to create a more sustainable and inclusive future? And what compelled them to build on Stellar?

The Blue Marble team was kind enough to answer these pressing questions. An environmentally sound NFT marketplace, the Blue Marble is designed to support innovative social and environmental campaigns. Founded by founders Matt Rickard and Steve Walker, the Blue Marble is accredited by the European Biochar Certification (EBC) for its work in leveraging the Stellar blockchain to issue carbon removal credits.

Matt takes it away and pens his thoughts below.


As governments look to implement policies and programs to address the emergency around climate change, the business sector also continues to understand and evolve its role in ensuring environmental sustainability. Brands can no longer turn a blind eye and ignore the issues driven by consumer sentiment, with numerous surveys demonstrating that consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.

Highlights from Deloitte’s #GetOutInFront research show just how much consumers care about issues like sustainability. When asked to rate how they feel about a long list of societal concerns:

  • 64% of consumers list recycling and reusing among their top threes
  • Another 64% list reducing single-use plastics in the top three
  • 62% feel strongly about tackling air pollution.

However, when Deloitte compared responses across countries, reducing carbon emissions was a near-universal priority!

For a healthy relationship with your customers, trust is everything. And brands that possess a business strategy ensuring their company is sustainable and environmentally friendly will cement trust that builds long-term loyalty among their consumers.

For example, did you know that:

  • 92% of consumers say they’re more likely to trust brands that are environmentally or socially conscious – Forbes
  • 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues – Forbes
  • 87% of consumers would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity – Forbes

But greenwashing is everywhere – whether it’s McDonalds introducing paper straws that turn out to be non-recyclable, or clothing store Zara making noise about their stores being 100% energy-efficient when they are yet to address textile waste issues within product manufacturing.

Companies need to be transparent about what steps they are taking to reduce their emissions and protect their employees, consumers, and the environment. But how?

A new investment paradigm

I want to make it clear that charities have important roles to play. But after working with them for more than a decade, I find myself asking the question – can we create change at a far greater scale through profitable investments that protect people and the planet?

Greed has rather negative connotations, but the world of investment is based upon just that. Could we satiate the need for financial return on investments with businesses whose operations propagate the removal of carbon from the atmosphere?

Why does carbon removal matter?

While carbon offsetting is not a cohesive offsetting strategy (offsetting should really be about mopping up the excess carbon used after operational improvements have been implemented to reduce the company's overall print), it does have a role to play. It allows people to make a positive contribution to the environment for those emissions that just can't be avoided.

And carbon removal is important because somewhere between 15 - 40% of the carbon dioxide that we emit in the atmosphere lasts for up to a thousand years, with roughly 10 - 25% persisting for tens of thousands of years. Carbon removal credits represent one of the best ways to offset with mechanisms that remove and lock carbon dioxide away for centuries. Some of the main methods for carbon removal include:

  • Afforestation/reforestation - Planting large areas of new forests
  • Carbon sequestration - Using no-till agriculture and other practices to increase the amount of carbon stored in soils
  • Biochar production - Creating charcoal and plowing it into fields
  • Direct air capture - Building machines that can suck carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere
  • Artificial upwelling - Fertilizing areas of the ocean by pumping nutrient-rich waters from the depths to the surface
  • Artificial downwelling - Accelerating the transport of carbon to the ocean depths by pumping surface waters downward
"If you make biochar with that plant waste, you can capture the carbon. If you put that into the soil, it will stay there forever. The oldest biochar deposits we know of are at least 4,000 years old. And that's carbon that's been removed from the atmosphere." - Michael Shafer, American University Professor and Founder of Warm Heart Foundation

Using blockchain to enrich the lives of smallholder farmers

Blockchain technology provides innovative new ways to create economic models around carbon removal that support far greater and faster scale. The data that proves removal can be stored in the blockchain, and digital assets that represent the carbon removed can be traded with virtually zero transaction fees, opening up the market to new participants.

We are working on a project that aims to reduce pollution while enriching the lives of poor rural farming communities. The workflow is:

  1. Investors who wish to make an impact with their money can fund operations that remove carbon from the atmosphere by purchasing a fraction of an NFT that represents a particular operational campaign (such as farmers).
  2. This investment allows the operation to perform activities such as providing education and support where needed and measuring the carbon removed.
  3. The result is that a farmer working in a developing country can provide ongoing proof to investors they are operating in new ways that result in the removal of carbon (for example, stopping open field burning and creating biochar instead).
  4. This data can be verified by bodies such as the European Biochar Committee or Verra resulting in carbon credits with tradable market value.
  5. This creates revenue which can now be split between the farmer, the organization who needs ongoing operational funds, and the investors who receive ongoing dividend payments as their invested funds create ongoing impact.

If we were to scale this project at large, we’d have the opportunity to create a significant impact – after all, there are more than one billion small hold farmers worldwide! This project demonstrates how, with blockchain, we can innovate on the carbon removal process to: provide funding at ground level, support holistically sustainable practices, create jobs, educate communities, and reduce air pollution.

How The Blue Marble can help

The Blue Marble is a Stellar-based NFT marketplace with an environmental focus, helping brands involve their customers in the sustainability journey, invest in carbon removal practices, and report impact transparently. We can also connect the success you create with your customers.

Our decision to build on Stellar has always made sense. Stellar was created with a goal in mind: to create equitable access to the global financial system. Providing financial tools to communities and companies is a driver for us at The Blue Marble.

So a key question we ask is: if we manage to get the financial tools in the hands of the unbanked, that’s good – but how will we get liquidity to flow into these communities? It's no use having the tools if you have nothing to do with them.

And that's why we see “asset marketplaces” becoming an essential element for blockchain-based economies that foster social and environmental progress, rewarding change that results in the environmental outcomes we desire while supporting the communities that make it happen.

Building on Stellar also means we do not carry the burden of huge energy consumption that comes with many other marketplaces built on different blockchains – a fact that now hinders much of the corporate sector looking to get into NFTs as they assess risk to their brand.

Looking to take the first steps in integrating an NFT strategy into your brand’s CSR? reach out to The Blue Marble to talk about the path ahead. Test out The Blue Marble’s NFT marketplace for yourself and sign up to get a free NFT while offsetting a cup of coffee!

Curious about where Stellar fits in the conversation around sustainability in blockchain? Read SDF’s full Sustainability in Blockchain report to learn more about a first-of-its-kind methodology in assessing electricity consumption across different blockchain protocols.