Sunday, December 05, 2010
Carrotmob enforces importance of being green
Oswego, NY -- A mob of college students — many wearing orange organic T-shirts — will descend onCanale’s Restaurant Monday because the business agreed to become a little greener.
The activity is part of the first Upstate New York Carrotmob, said Sarah Zisa, with Carrotmob headquarters in San Francisco.
The worldwide Carrotmob movement began in the San Francisco area as a campaign to encourage businesses to become more socially responsible while attracting customers.
In Oswego, owners and managers of 10 restaurants competed to win the mob of customers by offering to donate a certain percentage of their on “Mob” day to work on green initiatives at their locations. The one willing to do the most won the mob.
Alisia Engle, a senior at the State University College at Oswego, organized the event. She and members of her college Go Green Team visited 10 Oswego eateries and challenged the owners to be green.
“I think the definition of ‘going green’ or ‘sustainability’ is leaving the world as beautiful as we found it,” Engle said. “If everyone comes, we’ll have 100 students at Canale’s for the first Central New York Carrotmob.”
Here’s how the Oswego Carrotmob worked:
The restaurants were contacted the week of Thanksgiving and told “a group of 100 students are interested in coming to your business.”
In return for this influx of customers, the restaurant owner or manager bid what percentage of the income from the Mob event the business was willing to spend toward becoming green. They could do such things as updating their recycling or installing more energy-efficient lighting.
The restaurants competed by saying how much each was willing to do. If one decided to spend 10 percent on changes, another could up the ante by agreeing to spend 20 percent of its “Mob” income on green changes.
“The whole thing revolves around the power of consumers,” Engle said.
Canale’s restaurant, at 156 W. Utica St., won, agreeing to donate 30 percent of its income from the student “Mob” to becoming more green. The “Mob,” mostly students in the Go Green Team at Oswego State, raised money to pay for Canale’s energy audit. Canale’s owner and manager will work with the auditor to make identified changes.
Zisa said this is the first Carrotmob campaign in Upstate New York. Carrotmobs have been held in various boroughs in New York City.
Nick Canale Jr., owner of Canale’s in Oswego, said he liked the sound of the idea when it was pitched to him.
“We’ve already done a lot at the restaurant, such as changing the lighting, recycling our fryer oil, putting in programmable thermostats, buying recyclable packaging and installing motion sensors on our lights,” he said. “But this sounds great. I’d like to do more.”
Jeneen Reynolds, manager of Patz on the River, agreed.
“This is a fantastic idea and it’s for a good cause,” she said. “We already do a lot here to conserve and recycle.” But she said she and the restaurant owners are always open to doing more.
Engle, 20, became involved through her work as the sustainability intern at Oswego State. She worked on green issues at Hudson Valley Community College, but was surprised there were few efforts to teach students about the environment and related issues when she transferred to Oswego.
“Once I started learning about all this, I wanted to be just as involved here at Oswego,” she said. “The president (Deborah Stanley) is committed to going green, but there is a huge gap between the administration and the students. We have to educate the students.”
Engle began the Go Green Team, an organization of students involved in educating others about green initiatives on campus. She and the team set up the Green Kiosk in the Campus Center, that provides information on environmental issues to students. She serves as the sustainability intern for the Department of Campus Life and has served as the director of sustainability for the college’s Student Association.
Then in September, Michael Bonnie, director of the Oswego Center for Sustainable Living, contacted Engle.
“He informed me of the worldwide effort to promote green business practices, Carrotmob,” she said. “Carrotmob is a way for anyone to make a real difference with the environment by buying ordinary things in a targeted way.”
“We are proud to partner with such a large group of students to bring awareness to an important effort,” Canale said after being told his bid won the Carrotmob campaign.
“We know there is more we can do to be environmentally friendly. We are considering using the money to replace some older windows with more energy saving models, but we will wait and see what the Carrotmob auditor recommends and make our decision then,” he said.
Why the name Carrotmob?
The name of the group, Carrotmob, comes from the approach it uses to entice businesses to make social and environmental improvements to the world. The mob of people willing to support the business financially is the carrot used to encourage the business to make changes. As Carrotmob puts it, “We believe that we can get businesses to make big positive changes by offering them profits in return — the mob’s spending and customer loyalty. It’s a positive model where there are no enemies and everyone wins.”
Who competed in Oswego?
Ten Oswego-area restaurants were approached to promise a certain percentage of their Carrotmob take on making green improvements. Canale’s agreed to use the biggest percentage, so won the competition and the mob of customers. The others that competed are Azteca, Oswego Subshop, Cam’s Pizza, Port City Café and Bakery, Zonies, Vonas, Patz On the River, Fajita Grill and Raging River BBQ.