Credit cards are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is oil based and toxic. The production of credit card requires 45,000 barrels of oil, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the 20 million barrels of oiled consumed on a daily basis. However, not included in these 45,000 barrels are gift cards which are made from PVC as well. These credit cards are made to last 20 years but expire within 2 to 4 years requiring individuals to get new ones and whether they are recycled after is hard to determine since they are often destroyed because they contain valuable information on them.
Cash is made from Cotton and Nylon. From the last post on textiles, I described how many chemical pesticides, insecticides, and water usage goes into the production of cotton. Cash lasts on average approximately 16 months, then the bill is too worn to use, thus more is to be made and put into circulation. When it is taken out of circulation it ends up in a landfill as cotton cannot be recycled and Nylon, which is oil based, is very hard and expensive to recycle.
Smartphones are made from many types of recyclable metal and polymers. The performance of smartphones last ~ 4.7 years before performance is noticeably worse and become obsolete. The lifespan of smartphones is longer than cash and is recyclable at the grave; the materials in smartphones can be recycled to make next generations of smartphones.
Smartphones are multifaceted and serve huge purposes to a persons daily life; today in 2017, smartphones have become crucial to the productivity of a persons day, average person spends over 4 hours on their phone a day. Because smartphones play such a big part of everyday life they are always being used and secured so that very rarely are they misplaced or stolen. Losing a cellphone is way more detrimental then losing a $5 dollar bill, hell, even $100 dollar bill.
Credit cards and cash are just another thing someone has to cary on them, that ultimately serve the same purpose. If, this one purpose were to be consolidated onto a device that already serves many purposes in our daily life, not only would less materials be used, but also everything we need would now be all in one place, efficiency. Now the materials that are used in smartphones serve a bigger purpose and the impact that they have now are smaller due to the increase in productivity and purpose.
Security (Not sustainability related by important to personal interest)
Credit card fraud is currently at an all time high, and cash, as a physical asset, is stolen on a daily basis. Electronic payment systems, such as Apple Pay and PayPal, are even more secure than the “chip and pin” payment system that credit card companies are telling us are more secure than the older “swipe and pin” system.
So what you’re saying is we should just transfer from physical currency to a electronic currency?
Yes. But I haven’t even explained the benefits and opportunities of cryptocurrency yet.
Cryptocurrency is a global decentralized database that tracks and records transactions and data. There is no paper, no materials used besides in the technology we already use for many other purposes on a daily basis, and no middle man, such as a centralized bank or government, regulating the currency. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are regulated by an open source creative code that secures the transactions by tracking every single transaction (and other data in the case of Ethereum). It’s security is behind this creative code in Blockchain technology that could only be hacked if someone were to rewrite the entire code for a trail of currency in broad daylight, which is ultimately impossible. The three cryptocurrencies that are playing a big role and gaining traction are Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
So whats the difference between an electronic currency and cryptocurrency?
Ya cutting out the material’s of cash and credit cards would be great, but ultimately this impact is very minuscule to what an economy run on blockchain/ cryptocurrency technology could do and look like. We are currently in the information age, more specifically in the big data age, which is why cryptocurrency could become so valuable and sustainable in the long run. Data is currently more valuable than oil. Imagine a completely transparent economy, one where you can see who purchased what from where, and is using what technology at the cost of what. For example, being able to find out whether the company you purchased your “Green” water bottle from, actually got its materials from a sustainable source, that efficiently and effectively produced this material in the most energy and least polluting way possible. This in-depth understanding and transparency of industries is not do able with the current cash and banking system, but with a globally accepted cryptocurrency, this is more than possible.
Cryptocurrency is currently thriving due to the distrust in industries, organizations, and government. Cryptocurrency would bring transparency to consumers giving them the opportunities to see and choose from the most ethical and responsible companies and industries globally. This demand for more ethical and responsible products would then bring in more competitors into the market, driving down the prices altogether and increasing the supply of more efficient and sustainable products.
transparency = Trust + Credibility => Sustainable purchases and demand for ethical companies globally