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Carrotmob First Australian Event: MFC Surry Hills this Saturday, 24 October 2009

carrotmob1 283x300 Carrotmob First Australian Event: MFC Surry Hills this Saturday, 24 October 2009It’s the carrot, not the stick that we want to give the mule to get it moving, and there’s no mistaking, this mule is stubborn.

Zana Wright, a UTS Masters of Architecture student, wants to turn the recalcitrant mule of our economy around and save the environment. So Carrotmob is coming to Australia, the first to hit the Southern Hemisphere.

Carrotmob is a thriving new group of consumer activists who believe reward, rather than punishment will convince businesses to go green. Since March 2008, San Francisco, they have been offering local businesses a day where a mob of consumers will come make purchases and increase their profits. Whichever business pledges the highest percentage of that day’s profits will win the opportunity to host the event. After the day, an environmental engineer will tailor a plan make the business more environmentally friendly, using the budget to implement these changes. The not-for-profit organisation has been operating successfully in eight countries across Europe and the Americas and now in Surry Hills, Sydney.

The FIRST ever Carrotmob event in Australia will be taking place on Saturday, 24 October where all anyone who cares about the environment is encouraged to “mob” Surry Hills MFC Supermarket. Just come in and buy the stuff you would be buying anyway; a toothbrush, a bunch of bananas or a bottle of sunscreen – it doesn’t matter how big or small because it all goes toward a good cause. Aside, it also makes a great “This is how we met” story for lovers…

Ok back to business. Surry Hills MFC Supermarket will be spending 20% of gross profit earned on the day towards becoming a more environmentally sustainable business. The store’s owners Robert Abousaada & Mohammed Elsayed say, “We are really excited to be hosting the first Carrotmob event here in Australia, it is such a worthy cause and we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think it was. We also hope to see the event continue to take place in the future with other businesses!”

The Carrotmob event this Saturday will coincide with the 350.org International Day of Climate Action. 350.org is an international campaign that tackles the global climate crisis. This Saturday, 24 October marks the day when people all over the world will be working together to take action against global warming.

So far, the Aussie team of activists comprise some very intelligent and proactive young people. Helen Berkemeier, who works in education at the MCA and has designs to curate an exhibition that focuses on sustainability. Kate Joseph, a Business and Economics student who majored in Environmental Economics, Will Magnus, an Environmental Engineer and Martin Abbott, a UTS Architecture student.

Wright describes her team, “They are real go-getters,” then adds excitedly, “and they really love carrots!”  She says, “Carrotmob gives an opportunity to people who want to influence change but previously haven’t had any immediate avenue for it. We are the market forces but often we don’t feel that we have the power to determine anything, an opportunity like this reveals us to be individuals whose choices matter.”

The more people spend the more MFC will earn and put towards greening their business. It’s a grass roots reverse-boycott!

Geoff Frost, Associate Professor in Accounting and Sustainable Solutions at the University of Sydney. Frost says, “We check out companies to see if they are doing what they say they are doing, pull them apart to see if they are actually achieving what they say is being achieved.” He says, “Larger corporations are difficult to investigate, but Carrotmob, as a small grassroots movement, might affect change in a more apparent way because the changes will be more visible thus ensured to have occurred than what may happen in larger corporations where there are a lot of internal systems and public relations.”

Does Sydney have a lot of drive toward change? He smiles, “The inner city does, some of our politicians have described the area as, ‘The Leftie Lattes,’ but then this is what causes real change.” He adds, “The businesses have to see the benefit of this too. All businesses want some recognition for their performance.”

Surry Hills MFC Supermarket is located at 435 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney. Carrotmob Sydney will be striking the store between 11.00am and 2.00pm on Saturday, 24 October 2009. There will be live music throughout with a solar-powered band, The Sunchasers.

Article written by Di Cohen
Image by Amber Wright


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