Carrotmob – Rewarding Local Green Businesses!

Have you been seeing all the posters around town or all the Facebook posts? It seems Perth is being over-run by… carrots. But what is a Carrotmob and why should I even care? I managed to get to the bottom of it after chatting with the amazing Dom Berry – a campaigner for Carrotmob Perth

From the Carrotmob Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/CarrotmobPerth

So, what the hell is a Carrotmob?

In a Carrotmob campaign, a group of people offer to spend their money to support a business, and in return the business agrees to take an action that the people care about. Instead of organizing boycotts, we offer to spend money as a group if a business agrees to make a socially responsible change.

We are called Carrotmob because we use the “carrot” instead of the “stick” method of encouraging behavior. Traditionally, people who wanted to influence businesses would threaten or attack them. We believe people can have more influence on businesses by giving them a positive incentive to change: our money.

The crazy part is that it actually works! Carrotmob organizers have already created a growing movement, with over 175 campaigns all over the world! Join us.

Here is a great little animation that shows exactly how organised consumer purchasing can change business…

Why should we take the time to vote?

Carrotmob is the perfect project for the ‘slacktivist’, people who care about an issue but are only willing to put in a minimum amount of effort. Voting online and then going out to eat and drink at the winning venue on mob day, requires minimum effort and will directly result in positive change. We tend to forget how much power and influence we have as consumers. As a community we can choose to reward those business’ that are doing the right thing and avoid the ones that are not doing their part to minimise their carbon footprint.

When will the mob take place?

Voting closes this Sunday the 18th March so there are only a few days remaining! So watch the videos and vote here! Then we will be working with the winning venue to determine which date works best for them. We are aiming for the first week of April.

How did the businesses react when you approached them about the Carrotmob?

It was very mixed, some saw the potential of the project straight away; lots of free marketing and then the possibility of additional revenue, and immediately said ‘where do I sign up?’. Others showed an alarming lack of concern or interest for anything related to sustainability… Although I’d love to name and shame them, I’ll just say that many of the high profile bars and restaurants in Perth that are charging top dollar, don’t even recycle their glass bottles and literally throw hundreds into landfill ever day! Most people wanted to do the right thing but didn’t really know how so there seems to be a major lack of information and education out there.

I have noticed that all these restaurants are in the Perth City area. Will there be more mobs in more suburbs once this round one has finished?

For this particular project we submitted an application for an environmental grant to the City of Perth. We were awarded the grant and therefore the competition needed to be run in the City of Perth boundaries. We have a lot of feedback from people that have voted that have requested more information on holding their own Carrotmob, which is exactly what we were hoping for! It is designed so that anyone can do it, even if you don’t have a budget. We certainly hope that people like what we are doing and would like to carry it on in their local area!

So why do you think it is so important that consumers choose to buycott rather than boycott?

I think anything that has a positive reinforcement is going to work better than something which is negative. It just feels nicer when everybody wins. Lets face it consumers can’t live with out providers and visa versa, so we should work together for the greater good of all.

“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites”  

~ William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

Something I have noticed is that consumers complain that businesses use unsustainable practices so they have no choice but to buy ‘bad’ products yet businesses complain that consumers don’t want to pay the extra cost that is sometimes associated with choosing ethically. Seems to be a chicken or the egg situation. Who do you think needs to take the first step?

I really commend businesses that pave the way to change, it can mean isolating yourself in the beginning and perhaps having a niche market for a period of time, but as the demand for sustainable products and services grows, so will the supply and in turn they will become more available at a more affordable price. As for consumers, I understand what it is like to be on a budget and if you can just get a few items or services when you shop that are sustainable it all helps towards the shift we are aiming for. In the documentary Food Inc, they mention that when you go to the check out, you are voting for what you want to see on the shelf, that really resonated with me.

What are your top tips for becoming an ethical consumer?

  • Start local! Support local business – it’s great for the community and it cuts down on that carbon footprint.
  • STOP using plastic bags! Plan ahead, take your own bag, or ask for a box at the shop.
  • Don’t buy bottled water, get a reusable non-plastic vessel. Same goes for take away coffee, get a keep cup.
  • Ask at your local restaurants, bars, cafes what they are doing, do they have a ‘Green mission statement’. The more people that ask about these things, the more owners will realise it is of importance and will get in the market for your ethically, sustainably conscious business.
  • REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle – In that order of importance.

A big thank-you for Dom and all the other dedicated Carrot Campaigners for all your hard work in making Perth a greener city. Now get involved! Follow the Carrotmob on Facebook or via their website. Share it with friends and family. 

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