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Being Green - Carrot Mobs

Hi Folks:

Been a little quiet here on our ‘Being Green‘ site for the past few weeks, but life has been keeping us busy.  I wanted to share an idea I only heard about a few weeks back; the idea started in San Francisco in 2008 but has since spread to cities around the world.  The term ‘Carrot Mob‘ refers to the two general ideas for motivation – carrot and stick.  The carrot of course is positive reinforcement, and the stick refers to negative enforcement.  The problem with negative enforcement, as has been proven over and over again in psychological studies, is that it doesn’t work.  Positive reinforcement or incentive, however, can create long-lasting change.

The idea behind a ‘carrot mob’ is a variation on the premise of ‘voting with your wallet’.  It’s a little different than a ‘flash mob‘, as the latter, by design, serves no real purpose other than to have fun and surprise passersby.  We’re all consumers to one degree or another.  Individually and collectively we choose what products and services survive and thrive in our local and global economy.  Some have tried ‘boycotts’ as a way of expressing dissatisfaction, but a carrot mob is sometimes called a ‘buycott’ instead.  This isn’t ‘rampant consumerism’ or ‘buying for buying’s sake’, but an effective way to help support local businesses make ‘green’ changes to their operations.

The basic idea behind a carrot mob is that local businesses (restaurants for example) that want to ‘green’ their operations pledge a percentage of one day’s sales to achieving this goal.  Often several businesses are asked to compete, and the winner is chosen by the mob participants.  There have been two carrot mobs here in Victoria so far, both of which have been organized by students at the University of Victoria:

  1. In 2010 Wannawafel earned 327% of their normal daily income and used a portion of the proceeds, as promised, to invest in biodegradable napkins and other sustainable products.
  2. Earlier this month the Fernwood Inn was chosen as the site for a carrot mob.  On the day of the event, the owners pledged to match proceeds for the day dollar for dollar toward sustainable initiatives, and by closing time had generated a total of $16,137.26 toward that cause.  That makes it the largest carrot mob fundraiser in North America to date, and the second largest in the world.  The UVic students are planning an even bigger event for mid-May, which will include having several establishments competing for participants.

No matter where you live, this is a great idea that can easily be scaled up or down.  Contact local businesses, introduce them to the idea and see what changes they would like to make in their operations.  Drum up support and get the competition going!  And once the carrot mob has passed by, remember to keep supporting those companies that are aligned with what you value.

Okay… I usually end my ‘Being Green’ blog posts by adding a (long) list of links to other articles and sites of interest that I’ve come across in the past week.  However, in a world of Facebook and Twitter and the like, from what I can tell those links aren’t often followed.  It takes me many hours each week to collect and link all of those sites together, and I’m not going to bother if nobody’s using them.  What I’ve started doing instead is retweeting/posting the articles that I find the most interesting.  So, I leave it up to you.  If the links I post here are of value you to you and you’d like me to continue adding them in, post a comment here and let me know.  If you’re happy getting the news from other sources, that’s quite fine with me.  And if you want to follow Marcia and/or me on Twitter, you can find us through the Blogroll links on the right hand side of this page.  What I will continue to add are links to time-specific events, conferences and the like.  For example, the Living Future UnConference is happening in Vancouver, BC on April 27-29, 2011 and the ISEAL Alliance Conference Public Day is June 8, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland.

That’s it for now.  Have a great week!

Hugs,
Mike.

P.S.  I don’t drink Pepsi, but this is still a good idea: Pepsi Hits the Farm

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