I am constantly discouraged by my dilemma of not being able to find a whole lot of people who have the same mindset about change and making the right decisions as I do. Most people that I come to contact with everyday are chained to convenience or whatever cost the least or whatever is the latest gadget. Notice that people will camp out in line to get the new iphone, spend the shiny penny to get it, complain that they have to buy a new charger too, and then spend a less shiny penny to get that too, but they don’t have the time or money to buy organic or solar charger for their new gadget or spend the extra time to ride their bike to work. It drives absolutely insane because it’s constantly thrown in my face. It’s not easy to ignore. However, there might hope for me yet. It’s called Carrotmob.

The guy who came up with Carrotmob, Brent Schulkin, realized that with every dollar a consumer spends, they are voting for what kind of world they want. The name comes from the old saying that you can make a donkey walk one of two ways. You can hit from behind with a stick or you can lead it forward with a carrot. He says that traditional advocacy like boycotts, petitions and protests are the sticks and everyone loses when we use sticks. Instead, we should try using incentives like money.

Technically, boycotts work in this way, too because when you boycott one company you buy those certain products from another company that has the practices that you like more. But this way you can help the companies you like more by helping them get more business and it turn they will give you something you like even more. And it helps you do because you’re connected to all these like-minded people who you may or may not have known were out there that are working towards the same goal you are. It helps you know that you’re not alone, which is also part of the point.

How Carrotmob works is the consumers organize campaign. One or several individual come together register the issue they want to change and build a team. Then they talk to the businesses. Once the group and the business agree on specifics like what the group will do like spend x amount of dollars and the company will use that extra money to buy a new energy efficient refrigerator. According the website, most campaigns are for reducing energy consumption in some way. The two parties sign a contract and upload it to the site. Once the campaign is approved by the team who runs Carrotmob, the group is given a page and the team promotes their campaign. As the campaign happens, the mob leaders are supposed to keep people update on whether the event was a success or not and whether the company upheld their end of the bargain.

The site was started at the beginning of 2012, but I think the company started a couple of years ago.  According to the site, they have had 200 campaigns in 20 countries and I think they’re just counting for 2012.

It’s still relatively small, so I’m not sure how big this is in other states, but I’ve never heard of it till now. Oklahoma doesn’t catch on trends as quickly as some other states and I won’t likely hear about the events happening in the state because I live in a smaller town, so I’ve asked them if there is any way to know of the events happening around the area. I think this would be helpful for anyone, so I’ll keep you posted if I get a response.

Here is just a group in Madison that went through this program. There’s quite a few fun videos for these events on YouTube, but I wanted to know exactly what they planned to use the money for.

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