Heard of Carrotmobs yet? Consumers have used our buying power to avoid companies with the wrong values for decades. Now there’s a positive flip: actively making the effort to buy from companies that support your values. I only heard the term “Carrotmob”—so called because consumers use the carrot of positive business rather than the stick of withdrawing business to achieve social good.
I think I only heard the term a month or two ago; since then, I’ve run across it several times. This concept seems to be entering the language faster than anything I can remember since “Ms.” was invented as a gender-neutral alternative to Miss and Mrs., back in the1970s.
Here’s a particularly cool one with the odd twist that it was initiated by the company—and since I write about out-of-the-box people-centered marketing of green products and services, worth flagging here. I imagine this marketing strategy could get old fast if too many people do it, but the idea of having your customers pre-fund your sustainability venture is a good one. Think abou Kickstarter campaigns; this isn’t so different, after all.
A coffee company has decided that organic/fair trade coffee is not enough; the coffee should be transported on cargo ships powered by renewable energy. Specifically, using wind power.
Thanksgiving Coffee, a California-based artisan roaster, will arrange for wind-powered shipping if people buy $150,000 worth of coffee on Carrotmob. The goal is to prove demand for wind-transported coffee and research ways to make wind-powered shipping a reality in our own time.
It’s worth remembering that all cargo shipping from the dawn of history into the 19th century was either wind-powered or human-powered (by rowers). So there’s no need to prove that cargo shipping can be wind-powered. However, a transatlantic voyage by wind took many weeks, sometimes went way off course, was more susceptible to storms, etc. Steam and then diesel made shipping fast and reliable enough to create the modern global economy. So the real challenge is not to prove that they can use wind-powered ships, but that they can compete effectively using a modern wind-powered shipping fleet.
This of course could have a huge impact on the entire cargo shipping industry, if it can be done effectively and inexpensively enough to transport many different types of items. And certainly, it will inspire the shipping industry to add more sustainable practices even if using conventional diesel-powered cargo ships.
Meanwhile, if you’re a coffee drinker, you can help Thanksgiving Coffee test the waters for sustainable shipping. Go read the article on Ecopreneurist, or skip directly to the Thanksgiving Coffee Carrotmob page and buy a pound or two.