Carrotmob: the future of activism?
December 6, 2011
The first thing that crossed my mind after reading the open letter written by Brent Schulkin, the founder of Carrotmob, to the Occupy movement was: “How is it possible that no one thought of doing this before??”. The premise behind Carrotmob just made sense: if we, as consumers, want to change the way businesses operate, “we should stop approaching businesses like they are piñatas, and start approaching them like they are donkeys.”
For too long we’ve been hitting businesses with all sorts of sticks (boycotts, lawsuits, protests) hoping that some candy will fall down and things will change for the better. It usually doesn’t work. That’s because businesses are more like donkeys: no matter what, they go towards the biggest carrot. Businesses do whatever makes them the most money without considering how these choices affect our world (there are a few exceptions). As consumers we’ve always seen this as the underlying problem. But it is also the solution. What if we could make sure that the most profitable option was also the best one for people and for the planet? We may not have sufficient funds as individuals to change business decisions, but if we all put our money together… well, we get a damn big carrot.
A carrotmob is exactly that. It’s people pulling their purchasing power together to effect positive change in business practices. It is essentially the opposite of a boycott in that it doesn’t punish businesses for bad behavior, but rather rewards good, sustainable practices. Everyone wins.
I am convinced that business can be a driving force for solving social problems (after all, that’s how Green Sheep was founded), but sometimes a big juicy carrot needs to be thrown into the mix. This is an idea that finds strength in numbers. So go on and join the mob.