Addicted to novelty since 2001

A Carrotmob in Vancouver

Last summer I wrote about Carrotmob, a clever approach to motivating businesses to become more environmentally responsible by offering them cold, hard cash. Here’s their own description of what they do:

Carrotmob is a method of activism that leverages consumer power to make the most socially-responsible business practices also the most profitable choices. Businesses compete with one another to see who can do the most good, and then a big mob of consumers buys products in order to reward whichever business made the strongest commitment to improve the world. It’s the opposite of a boycott

Today I was invited to a local Carrotmob (also on the Facebook), happening Sunday, May 16 at the Salt Spring Coffee at 4295 Main Street. From the invitation:

All you have to do, the ONLY thing, is to come down to Salt Spring Coffee on Sunday MAY 16th and purchase something – probably a coffee would be a good idea. EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR + 10% Salt Spring Coffee makes that Sunday, will be put towards improving the energy efficiency of that shop!

No more complaining about donations getting lost in third party transactions! It will ALL be used directly by Salt Spring Coffee to make improvements to their business. Our friends at Small Feet Inc. are on board as Sustainability Partners in case they (or you) have any questions on how they can reach their goal of optimizing their energy efficiency.

I’ll definitely drop by and buy something. It’s interesting that the organizers chose Salt Spring Coffee as their vendor for this Carrotmob, the first one in Vancouver. I think of Salt Spring Coffee as a pretty progressive organization already (after all, their paper cup laid a guilt trip on me last winter). I’m sure they could be more environmentally responsible, but I expect that they’re probably ahead of the curve.

The point, as I understand it, is to highlight to Salt Spring Coffee’s competition that consumers care about the environmental footprint of the products and service they use. So that maybe next year we’ll have a Carrotmob at a local Starbucks instead?

If you wanted, you could attend both a Carrotmob and a Boobquake over the next two weeks.

6 Responses to “A Carrotmob in Vancouver”

  1. Emily

    I’m looking forward to see you at the Carrotmob. It’s lining up to be a great event with prizes and live music to add to the “feel good” factor of Carrotmobbing.

    I just thought that I would throw in my two cents about who and how we picked the coffee shop to mob. We went to about fifteen coffee shops along Main St to pitch the Carrotmob, and five were enthusiastic to participate. After interviewing each about what they would do with the money upon winning and why they wanted to participate, we posted the videos on our youtube page and asked Carrotmobbers to vote – most people were notified through Facebook or by friends.

    We added the voting component to the Carrotmob so the “winner” would be determined by both how much % of revenue they would commit AND what they were actually going to do with the money.

    It’s a tough call to decide what the best or most fair way to choose who to mob is, and I think there are still a few kinks to work out… like, who gets the right to vote.

    In the end I’m glad to see how many people are excited to participate in this Carrotmob, and that another great local business is going to benefit from it.

    Salt Spring Coffee has always been progressive, and I think that is one of the reasons why they were so excited to sign on to the Carrotmob. It goes to show that even an established coffee shop that has always thought about the social and environmental issues their company faces still needs a good carrot to come along and motivate them to act on the basic energy efficiency improvements their shop needs.

    darren Reply:

    Thanks for that–that’s a robust and fair selection process. Please understand that I wasn’t criticizing the choice, just thinking out loud about who the natural fits are for CarrotMob.

    Emily Reply:

    No worries Darren! I just wanted to make sure the selection process was clear to everyone because we did divert from the traditional Carrotmob approach and some people found it confusing. I assumed it wasn’t a criticism! Regardless, there are still some kinks in the model, and I think all Carrotmobbers out there should be thinking about what makes sense. Thanks for thinking out loud!

  2. Barbara

    I know it was over a year ago, but the guilt trip article got me thinking that all of us need to be more environmentally responsible. And to put it in context – what would your mother say?… she would say “Darren pick up your socks, put a helmet on and buy yourself a travel mug for god’s sake!”

    Don’t shirk responsibility… but see it as a reminder (and I thought it was a gentle one) that all of us need to do better.

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