Results from Fed Square mob

Despite around 50 people putting their pennies towards an enjoyable meal or drink, the il Pomodoro mob last month didn’t raise the cash needed for the veggie garden.

Il Pomodoro  still plan on further developing their herb garden and will continue to be as sustainable as possible.

The Fed Square mob was the first restaurant mob organised by Carrotmob Melbourne.  Staffing requirements for restaurants make it more difficult to plan than a corner store as the number of staff working, compared to customers, needs to be spot on to make sure there is a profit made. In this case the numbers weren’t right.

Carrotmob Melbourne has learnt a lot from the experience. We’ll also be running some polls in the new year to try and get a better idea of what works best for our mob and our businesses.

Thanks to the carrot mobbers who did attend – it was a great night with some fantastic local music from Matt and Kate. The publicity generated also helped to prove that being environmentally friendly is a factor in consumer purchasing decisions.


Brunswick West mob saves equivalent of one cars worth of pollution

Albion Budget Supermarket has doubled its pledge and converted all of its lights to  save the equivalent of one cars worth of pollution.

Over a hundred shoppers mobbed the Albion Budget Supermarket in Brunswick West last year. The mob doubled the store’s average Saturday sales in just four hours.  In return, the store’s owner, Medhat Ghaly, pledged 50% of sales revenue from the event to improving his business’s environmental sustainability.

While a hefty $700 was raised from the Carrotmob event Medhat decided to invest double the amount to convert all 39 of his lights to more efficient bulbs. “Adam’s Eco Electrics came and replaced half of the lights using the money raised from the Carrotmob. We then decided it would be great to finish the whole shop!” Medhat said.

The supermarket will save approximately 2.48 tonnes of CO2 emission pollution per year – that’s approximately one car off the road annually.

Moreland Energy Foundation’s Jason Cox, who has been working with Medhat, said he will also save money in just two years time, “Medhat’s decision is not only great from an environmental perspective but also from a dollar perspective. He will save around $700 per year on electricity costs leaving a return on investment of only two years from the initial light cost outlay. It is a great example of small business taking action and why energy efficiency makes sense.”

Apart from lighting, Medhat is now working with the Moreland Energy Foundation on improving the efficiency of his drinks fridges. The supermarket is taking part in a trial to establish the suitability for new technology that will reduce fridge energy use without turning the fridges off.

*If you were at last week’s mob in Fed Square, thanks for coming and we’ll post some numbers as soon as we have them.

The General Assembly to play at Fed Square mob on Nov 17

We’ve been a little bit jealous of the Occupy movement, we’ll admit it. All that media coverage, crowds of people.

So we visited the New York City General Assembly (Occupy Wall St) website to see what tips we could pick up and decided to get our own general assembly. Except we got Matt from the band The General Assembly instead.

We actually think our General Assembly is better. Their music is so good it’s had an endorsement from former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer. And they’re so committed to the environment they’ve used old books for their cd covers and halved their cd press run even though they still had to pay full price.

So if you’d like to be part of a general assembly but still go home and sleep in your own bed all you have to do is show up at Il Pomodoro restaurant in Fed Square on Thursday 17th November from 5.30 to 7.30pm. Just by buying a drink or a snack you’ll be doing your bit to make an environmental improvement (all profits go towards developing a veggie patch and herb garden in Fed Square). You’ll also be demonstrating to business what is important to you as a consumer/the 99%.

The background

Il Pomodoro competed for the mob at this year’s Sustainable Living Festival back in February, against other Fed Square locals Beer DeLuxe and Jolimont Café.  Each business pitched what they would do with the mob-generated revenue to improve their sustainability.  Festival attendees voted for their favourite on the day, and supporters also voted online in the weeks that followed.

Carrotmob campaign manager Ashlee Brady said: “We’re really excited for our first evening mob.  It’s a great way for people to support a local business on their sustainability journey, whilst enjoying great food, drinks and music! We’re encouraging people to come past for a quick after-work drink, dinner with friends, or even coffee and dessert. Consumer support for Il Pomodoro is going directly to a sustainable cause, and hopefully more restaurants, cafes and bars will be inspired to green up their practices”

Mobbing Fed Square in November

The long-awaited Fed Square mob date has been set.

If you joined us recently Beer Deluxe, il Pomodoro and the Jolimont cafe all taped videos with their pledges on what environmental improvements they would make to win the mob of consumers. After online and in-person voting at the Sustainable Living Festival earlier this year il Pomodoro got the most votes and won the mob.

When is it?

The mob will be held on Thursday 17th November from 5.30-7.30pm.

Carrotmob at il pomodoro in Fed Square on Thursday Nov 17 from 5.30 to 7.30pm

What environmental improvements will be made?

100% of the profit from the two hours will go towards the promised veggie garden. The garden will decrease il Pomodoro’s  carbon footprint by cutting down on food transportation as well as resulting in less food waste.

After completing the environmental audit as part of the Carrotmob process il Pomodoro are also planning more changes  independently such as changing their lights, improving organic waste management and promoting reusable keep cups.

What do I have to do?

All you have to do is show up for an after work drink, Italian-inspired snack, dinner or dessert. Every single dollar of your purchase goes towards the garden. Too easy.

What’s in it for me?

As well as helping us save the environment there will be music from Matt Wicking of The General Assembly as well as some Carrotmob promo deals. . Subscribe to the blog, follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook to keep in the loop.

Why I can’t leave my hairdresser – a story about real sustainability and customer service

I’ve gone to the same hairdresser since I was born. You may be wondering what this has to do with Carrotmob or thinking I don’t get out much. While I did grow up in the one place, since I was 18 I’ve managed to juggle overseas travel and moving house with trips to the hairdresser.

For the last few years I’ve lived about an hour away from Paul and his salon. Just last week a friend gave me a recommendation for his hairdresser down the road that I ignored. Even Mel, who colours my hair, asked me last time I was there if I’d ever tried a city salon. Apparently other people have come back, turned off by the city prices. And while I was raised to be a penny pincher, that’s not the reason I haven’t left.

It’s all about relationships

When my mum had cancer Paul came over to her house and cried with her while he shaved her head. He then cut a wig to match her old haircut and refused to take any money. He gives a makeover every year to a year six kid at the local primary school who needs a self-esteem boost.  There are countless stories of his generosity. But even that isn’t all of the reason why I go back.

Maybe I could find a hairdresser who switches from politics to reality TV to inappropriate comments about his, mine and other peoples’ love lives in the blink of an eye. Maybe he could even give me a decent haircut. But he wouldn’t know that even though I was adamant I wanted a spiky fringe in primary school, I cried as soon as I saw it. They don’t know the mate I travelled around Eastern Europe with and they didn’t watch my sister walk down the aisle (and do the hair of both of them, of course).

Paul and his hairdressing salon are entwined in my life like a vine around the trunk of a tree. You could cut it away but the view would be a lot less interesting.

It’s about small business as well as the environment

So here’s to small businesses like It’s Individual. The places that make Melbourne and its suburbs unique. Carrotmob is about looking after the environment . But it’s also about supporting our small businesses. After all, Melbourne is the place where we’ve protested the arrival of McDonalds and Starbucks. It makes sense that we’d also want to support our locals.

If you have your own favourite small business we’d love to hear about it.

* This post is dedicated to Sean who asked me why we were investing time to support profit-making businesses. Sean remortgaged his house to make an amazing documentary called The Thin Green Line about African park rangers who risk their lives to protect the animals in their care. All profits from the documentary and foundation help equip these rangers and support the families of rangers who have been killed by poachers while on duty. Another good cause worth supporting.

Is collaborative consumption really good for the environment?

You can’t scratch your nose these days without accidently reading something about collaborative consumption.

ÁBC Environment suggested last week the trend towards renting or borrowing rather than buying may actually be driving us to consume more, making gas-guzzling boats and high-end labels achievable whatever your budget.

As someone who had a panic attack over buying a fridge after years of share house living, I’m probably not the person to wonder whether collaborative consumption can get out of control.

But I do know it’s a very middle-class thing to feel more evolved because you value experiences over stuff. And it’s an interesting question – who’s really making the least impact on the environment? Someone like me, who doesn’t own very much but travels a lot, eats out and ‘does things’. Or someone like my sister who has a big suburban house full of gadgets and furniture but stays at home?

I don’t have the answers. But I do think what’s more important than collaborative consumption is conscious consumption. People like to give things labels these days and spot trends but really it’s the stuff your mum or your grandma asked back in the day. Do you really need it? Is it made well and will it last? Can you borrow it from someone else rather than buying it? And the more modern day question – does my purchase impact on less fortunate people?

Now the weather’s a bit warmer, we’re aiming to have our next mob at a restaurant. It’s a way to make your lifestyle a little more sustainable even if you’re not a shopaholic. And it’s really another form of collaborative consumption – consumers collaborating together to influence positive change.


Revolution or evolution of capitalism? The power of consumption

The revolution of capitalism was one of the most shared stories on the BBC last week.

Philosopher John Gray’s basic argument is Karl Marx was wrong about communism but right that capitalism was unstable and would eventually destroy the bourgeois/middle class way of life. It surprised me an opinion piece about a clearly failed political concept still got so much interest.

Is capitalism the new communism?

But Marx saw communism as an evolution of capitalism – so it would horrify a lot of people to think he might be happy with what he sees today. “Capitalism has led to a revolution but not the one that Marx expected. The fiery German thinker hated the bourgeois life and looked to communism to destroy it. And just as he predicted, the bourgeois world has been destroyed,” says Gray.

If you wanted to take that analogy and run with it you could argue the case for Carrotmob and the social enterprise movement in general being the proletariat rising up against the bourgeoisie. We’re using consumer power instead of ineffective uprisings to force bourgeoisie change.

Or maybe we’re existentialists?

Cherry Bar announced yesterday they will be the first Australian venue to go carbon neutral. And they were honest enough to admit they’re hoping punters and bands will rock up in support.

Carrotmob participants  Streat, who  create jobs and skills for people who need them, say on their blog ‘As consumers our greatest power is the way we spend our money.’

In The Economist they’re arguing that existential threats are needed to save us from the rollercoaster ride that is capitalism. And which existential threat did they think fit the bill? Climate change -they even highlight the need for a carbon tax in order to do it. But while we’re waiting for that we can practice a bit of Carrotmob existentialism by demonstrating personal responsibility for what we purchase and who we purchase from.

And you thought you were just a consumer.


Australia’s first biodegradable crepe cone in development

Crepes a la  Carte is consulting with designers and manufacturers to build the first biodegradable crepe cone for Australia. A Carrotmob in June raised over half the money needed to develop the crepe cone prototype. Co-owners Liz and Ben hope to have the crepe cone in use by the end of the year. We’re sure there will be plenty of volunteers to test out that particular prototype.


Can you be an environmentalist without being a hipster?

Last week I got accused of being a hipster. Apparently knitting is a sure sign of the hipster (possibly if I was actually a hipster I would have already known this).  So I started to run through the list of hipster cliches and a lot of them were things environmentally conscious people would do too. It used to be that you were labelled a hippie if you cared about the environment but now the big question seems to be can you be a greenie without being a hipster?

Are you a greenie or a hipster?After a bit of analysis, environmentalism seems to be a gateway into the hipster lifestyle. If you think one of your friends might be crossing the line from recreational environmentalism into hardcore hipster behaviour, here are some warning signs to look out for:

Op shopping

If you like your clothes second hand, you’re an environmentalist. If you call them vintage, you’re a hipster for sure.

Music preferences

If you’re buying vinyl you’re a hipster. There’s nothing environmentally friendly about pressing vinyl when you could just be downloading an mp3. If it’s second-hand vinyl you could claim to be both an environmentalist and a hipster.

Reading literature

Reading your Hemingway and Sartre on a tablet? You’re a hipster. Surprised? Slap on the wrist to early adopters everywhere. Endless consumption of the latest gadget, not environmentally friendly, no matter what spin Apple puts on it. Still borrowing from the library? Environmentalist. Of course in five years time reading paperback books will be retro, tablets will be mainstream and this will switch (see music preferences above).

Takeaway coffee preferences

If you use a KeepCup you’re an environmentalist. You also clearly drink lattes, cappuchinos, flat whites or some other milk tainted abomination.  If you drink espresso you can shot down your single origin while chatting with your barista. No need for a KeepCup for the hipster.

Bike riding

If you commute to work on a bike and get changed once you’re there, you’re an environmentalist. If you ride a fixie and wear a skate helmut, there’s no way to avoid your hipster status. Only an inner urban dweller would buy a bike that forces you to pedal non-stop. The possible exception to this is if you also have a coffee cup holder attached to your bike (see takeaway coffee preferences above).


If you compost and recycle, you’re an environmentalist. If you upcycle, you guessed it, hipster.

Food shopping

If you get your food at a regular market you’re an environmentalist. If you buy your food at a farmer’s market, you’re bound to be a hipster. If you buy your food at CERES, you’re so much of a hipster, you’re probably on one of those websites that posts photos of hipsters.

Food preferences

If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan you’re an environmentalist. If you’re an ecotarian/locavore or some other made-up term you’re definitely a hipster. What could be more hipster than making a political statement about your food without actually giving up any of your foodie favourites like slow cooked lamb tagines?

So Carrotmob readers, are you an environmentalist or a hipster? In this time of national Census, please share your status and help us with this important demographic profiling of our target market.

Want to target the top polluters? Vote for us on GetUp!

Carrotmob is trying something a little different this week. After all the carbon tax talk (will it make a difference or not?) we want to target big business and top greenhouse gas emitters too. If we can get one of the highest emitting businesses to commit to environmental improvements if we promise to buy from them, that’s a big win. But as a little activist group we think we need help on this one. So we’ve suggested the campaign to GetUp!

If you like the idea please vote for us.