When you first buy bitcoin and learn the art of HODLing, your time preference takes a hit and your temptation to spend diminishes gradually. And when your patience pays off, you only want to spend your hard money on something that you deem valuable and of high quality. These are the two phases that irreversibly change the lives of bitcoiners and indirectly benefit the environment.
Today, bankers and governments go to great lengths to convince everyone that Bitcoin is an environmental disaster which doesn’t produce anything of value. At the same time, they perpetuate an economic environment where money lose value and must be spent quickly… which is turns incentivizes the development of inexpensive, mass-produced, and low-quality goods.
In this article, I would like to argue that Bitcoin helps us return to a set of values which makes us consume less and focus on quality over quantity. And this is not something that you’re ever encouraged to do as a bank customer, especially in an age when interest rates are a joke and saving gets actively discouraged. As a matter of fact, since a large number of people will have small amounts of depreciating money to spend, they will look for cheap items that they can buy after every pay check.
Bitcoin’s new sustainable clothes
Consumerism is unsustainable and a lot worse for the environment than Bitcoin mining. Let’s take a look at clothes: high-quality items are just as expensive as ever and may cost a significant percentage of your monthly income; but if you get something that’s made from polyester instead of cotton or wool, you can afford to go to H&M, New Yorker and Zara to fill your wardrobe at a very little cost.
Are these clothes any good? Most of the times they start looking and feeling terrible after the first couple of washes. So you effectively buy future garbage that’s designed to only last for one season. If you bought something of higher quality, you could have worn it and washed it for years.
But due to the incentives involved in the fiat economy, you’re buying lower quality items frequently so your momentary budget doesn’t take a hit. You must still pay rent, buy food, and afford to pay the rest of your bills – so instead of saving across multiple months, the financial system pushes you to either go into debt (which is pretty irrational in most cases) or else buy what you can afford at a given moment.
There is also a discussion to be had about the mass-produced low-quality items and the carbon footprint that their production leaves. Cotton and silk are more expensive, but have a lower impact on the environment. Polyester and elastane dilution reduce the production and retail costs, but significantly increase the initial and long-term environmental damage.
And I’m sure that the example applies to many fields, including food (farmer’s market food is more expensive, but more natural and less reliant on plastic packaging), home appliances (a fridge which has more plastic is likely to break sooner and be less efficient), electronics (a cheap Nintendo knock-off will break sooner and receive less software support), automobiles (the $10000 car will do more environmental damage during its lifecycle and afterwards than the more expensive hybrid), and everything else that we buy at affordable prices thanks to convenience.
Bitcoin = long-term preference = sustainability and care for the environment
If you buy and hold bitcoins, you’re going to get exposed to an asset whose supply is fixed and predictable. This means that if the demand also increases over time, then your purchasing power only increases against inflationary assets such as fiat currencies. But on the short term, you may also lose some of the purchasing power – so you’ll be pushed to plan accordingly and wait for a longer time.
As you exercise patience and frugality, you’re going to discover how much of the stuff you used to buy is not essential. And even in the case of essential items, you’re going to have greater expectations. Bitcoin turns you into a responsible and conscious consumer even without you realizing it.
Instead of saying “I’m going to get a new phone this year”, you will want to wait until something significantly better and potentially life-improving comes out. Instead of changing your clothes every season, you will buy something which has a higher price, but low cost-per-wear. And instead of changing your automobile to get a non-essential feature (like a better sound system or leather seats), you will save for a significant upgrade.
High-quality goods are usually more sustainable and friendlier with the environment. And Bitcoin makes us want them and have the patience until we can get them. In the process, we give up on our consumerist instincts and learn to appreciate quality over quantity. We break the cycle, improve our lives, and also live more sustainably and with greater care for the environment.
It’s a little ironic, isn’t it? Bitcoin, the internet currency that mainstream media often portrays as wasteful and of dubious use, can actually help us become friendlier with the environment. Thanks to the disinflationary monetary policy, we want to spend more infrequently, wait more, make more informed decisions, and get the best value for our money.
This isn’t something that the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank can say about the currencies that they manage. Yet it’s very similar with the kind of saving mindset our grandfathers had when they were using gold as their unit of account of choice.
So next time some low-time preference social media commentator suggests that Bitcoin is boiling the oceans, tell them that his lifestyle is a lot worse. And for every ounce of carbon dioxide that Bitcoin mining generates, you help reduce other types of pollution that’s even more damaging for the environment.
Also, if you want to find out more about making your Bitcoin transactions environmentally-friendly, then read my article about onboarding the Lightning Network and ignore Elon Musk’s borderline malevolent manipulation attempts.
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BTC on-chain address: bc1q2nx92s28kp2y5hn9ycwvnhr9ddslyte6k8u0q8
If you want your transaction to be even more environmentally-friendly and sustainable, then make the donation via Lightning Network: lnbc100u1ps2agwapp5ud35vtrh003nlura5p6er68ftsyx5f6yvrqq8q20ramkuugsj4nsdpygf5hgcm0d9hzq6tnypeh2um5v95kuctzd3jscqzpgxq97zvuqsp5y973hmk8a7f2dpgxa4v6k5zykw9n0ve6vpfjf9fdjc8z0c58j9ss9qy9qsq3lejfpclffaeqafdup9fm5twjpf4ptu37zx256aamwjw0jraqy335dl2jxuavg8egvemvpj46cxr8uh2el45kapky9nfunh25gn6yxgpf438gs