‘Carrotmobs’ Help Businesses Boost Sustainability

The cash mob movement spawns an environmentally-friendly spinoff

carrotsSuch is the alacrity of adoption rates these days that a trend has scarcely had time to soak into the public consciousness before it’s spawning spinoffs and spoofs.

So, it seems, is the case with the Carrotmob, apparent heir to the cash mob. In case you haven’t heard of either type of mob, here’s all you need to know: Cash mobs are the culmination of a grassroots movement to support small, independently owned businesses. The organizer picks such a business and—typically using social media—persuades hoards of people to converge there, thus goosing the owner’s sales.

Carrotmobs point the cash mob concept in a specific direction: environmental sustainability. The business owners use the revenue increase they get from mobs for eco-improvements. For example, the San Francisco-based Carrotmob nonprofit is promoting an event in which a café owner will use his revenue surplus to create a so-called “parklet” outside his café; another “mob” will help a clothier source shirts with organic cotton.

Nevada’s first Carrotmob—organized by Clean Energy Project, one of the organizations behind the National Clean Energy Summit—took place April 6 at The Perfect Scoop and Boba Tea on South Fort Apache Road and West Tropicana Avenue. Owner Peter Wong committed an entire day’s sales to energy-efficient upgrades for his business. In exchange, Clean Energy Project promoted the event and footed the bill for an energy auditor to give The Perfect Scoop the once-over.

By 5 p.m., the end of the official event but still four hours before closing time, nearly 200 people had mobbed the ice cream shop. Wong reported profits of $1,100, compared with his usual Saturday total of $350. All of it will go toward improvements recommended in the audit, which focused on refrigeration, the shop’s biggest drain on energy.

What’s cool about the Carrotmob, says Clean Energy Project’s Mike Litt, is that it allows small businesses to implement the eco-friendly upgrades that many would like but few can afford during the startup phase.

The hardest part? Says Litt’s partner on the project, Phoebe Judge: “We were having a hard time finding any businesses that believed we were actually going to do what we said. It sounds too good to be true.”

They must all be accustomed to sticks.

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