Steve G.

Voluntary Action: Going Green Without State Coercion

In Activism, Environment, Personal Responsibility on June 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Chances are, you have heard of the boycott.  But have you ever heard of the carrotmob?

The carrotmob is the reverse of the boycott.  A short yet fascinating article in the most recent issue of Time explains how it was invented by Brent Schulkin to “reward businesses with mass purchases if they promise to use some of the money to become greener” (8 June 2009, p. 54).

A carrotmob in San Fransisco

A carrotmob in San Fransisco

In traditional boycotts, people avoid businesses that employ policies with which they disagree.  This new activist tactic is just the reverse.  When a business agrees to alter its policies, by e.g. choosing to use more energy-efficient lighting, activists swarm the business in question to make purchases.

The tactic is completely voluntary.  And it’s been a success.

It was first used last Spring in San Fransisco and is now starting to get outsourced to 14 other U.S. cities—and three other countries, as well!

One example Time gives is of a San Fransisco store called K&D Market, where carrotmobbers spent $9,200.  Profits create incentives, as these activists clearly realise.

From the libertarian view, this news is thrilling.  It confirms what we’ve been saying all along: voluntary action works.  And perhaps best of all, although the carrotmob has been used mostly for environmental purposes, it could just as easily be used for any other progressive social policy.

To learn more about the carrotmob, visit carrotmob.org.

—Alexander S. Peak

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