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Carrotmobs: coming to an eco-friendly business near you

food clipart carrot

Does the term “carrotmobs” conjure a riot of raving redheads for you? That’s what it made me think of, especially since I am one of those rare strawberry-locked folks (we’re only four per cent of the population, you know).


But this voice-of-the-veggies phenomenon is no hair-color love fest. No, it’s a citizens’ initiative that began in San Francisco in 2008 and operates on the opposite principle of a boycott. Rather than refuse to patronize a store because of its environmentally destructive business practices, a Carrotmob targets an eco-friendly business and shops there en masse at a designated date and time. This group action encourages consumers to reward stores that have committed to reducing their ecological footprint.



British Columbia’s first Carrotmob action was at Discovery Coffee in Victoria in October 2009. The event tripled the store’s usual sales for the day and has attracted a younger, more eco-aware clientele, according to owner Logan Gray. 


Now Vancouver, BC has launched its first Carrotmob caper for tomorrow, at Salt Spring Coffee on Main Street.  (The swarm site is near Main and 27th Avenue between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Why this business? Omar Mutashar, who founded the Vancouver branch of Carrotmob, says that he interviewed a number of coffee shops on Main Street about the concept and posted video clips on the Internet; online voters chose Salt Spring Coffee as their Carrotmob shop of choice.


Salt Spring Coffee won because it has pledged 110 per cent of its May 16 profits to create more efficient lighting in its store. The progressive company, which started in 1996, uses organic, fair-trade coffee and is striving to become the world’s most sustainable coffee company. Besides the Main Street cafe/store, Salt Spring Coffee has its original shop, the Ganges Cafe, on its namesake island and a kiosk at the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen.


I think that Carrotmobbing is a fun, ingenious way to empower both consumers and businesses. It’s a grassroots action to show stores that their socially responsible practices will reap immediate community benefits and give them a financial edge. I hope to see a lot more Carrotmobs crop up in cities everywhere. Maybe we’ll  have Rhubarbmobs and Tomatomobs too. Here’s hoping . . .


Click here if you’d like to watch a video of a successful Carrotmob event in San Francisco, hosted by the initiative’s founder. As he says, it takes a carrot, not a stick to motivate people to positive action.


May 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm
1 comment »
  • May 17, 2010 at 10:37 amAnnie

    I enjoyed the Carrotmob at Salt Spring Coffee yesterday. (I was fortunate to also win some some coffee beans in a draw!) This type of event is a great way to reward ethical and environmentally conscious businesses. I hope to see more of these gatherings.

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