This mob wants more green

for The Brooklyn Paper
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An environmental group has targeted a Park Slope hardware store for not being “green” enough — but don’t expect a boycott.

In fact, the group is doing just the opposite.

On Sunday, Dec. 14, Carrotmob NYC, a local incarnation of a San Francisco-based group, will hold a three-hour “reverse-boycott” at Tarzian Hardware in hopes of raising money so that the store can become more energy efficient.


Here’s the idea: By using the “carrot” of consumer purchasing power instead of the “stick” of boycotts or protests, Carrotmob promises to bring in a mob of shoppers in exchange for a commitment to use that money towards a green end, in this case, a commitment from Tarzian to install energy-efficient lightbulbs and a cleaner heating system.

“The goal is to inspire businesses to become more environmentally friendly,” said Alyssa Koob, who represents Carrotmob’s New York City chapter. “Businesses will do anything for money. On the other hand, boycotting them doesn’t really help [make them become greener].”

John Ciferni, who owns the Seventh Avenue store, said he expects to “double our revenue [that day].

At first, Ciferni admitted he was a bit confused when the Carrotmob approached him one month ago.

“I had never heard of anything like this before,” said Ciferni. “At first I didn’t know what to expect, but now it really seems like a win-win kind of thing.”

Ciferni is even planning to go above and beyond the green improvements that Carrotmob has suggested.

“If we have some money left over, I’d like to use it to start a neighborhood recycling program,” said Ciferni. “The energy-saving light bulbs [we plan to install] have mercury in them, and people just throw them away. There aren’t a lot of places that recycle them, because it’s too expensive.”

Carrotmob began six months ago, and the group’s story was soon picked up by CurrentTV, a network founded by former vice president Al Gore. It has since organized similar events in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Bristol, England.

Tarzian Hardware [193 Seventh Ave., between Second and Third streets in Park Slope, (718) 788-4120].

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Reader Feedback

Charles from PS, Bklyn says:
This is exactly why, in some quarters, park slope is the object of ridicule. My God, doing charity work for a business for things they should be doing for themselves. What about helping a school or a church become more energy efficient? Leave crazy from whence you came, and sell it somewhere else; we have enough in Brooklyn without the addition of stupid. Sorry to be harsh.
Dec. 11, 2008, 12:57 pm
RJC from not Park Slope says:
PS: It's not a Park Slope group; it's a NYC version of a San Fran group. And what's so crazy? It's a tad odd, granted, but who cares? It's rewarding a business in advance for becoming more energy efficient.

You have good ideas about helping a school or church to do the same. How about sponsoring a bake sale to help them out?
Dec. 11, 2008, 2:55 pm
Alyssa Koob from Brooklyn says:
Charles: It takes "green" to go green. There is no incentive for already suffering businesses to make initially costly energy efficient changes. Businesses are worried about the now--the now being profit loses from our suffering economy. With no regulations from local or state government, what motivation is there for business to make these green changes? With Carrotmob's help, the business is rewarded for making these costly changes which are NOT presently required of them. SO in fact, Carrotmob does NOT reward the "business for things they should be doing for themselves." (while I'm sure we can all agree that there is certainly an ethical demand for green changes, can you blame these suffering business for not making the change?) In a time when businesses are more familiar with the color "red", there is less money to go "green". So what's wrong with a group of consumers helping green a business, by bringing it some of OUR green?
Dec. 11, 2008, 4:53 pm

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