Purity Ice Cream pays 'Carrotmob' profits forward to sustainable project

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund, a project backed by Sustainable Tompkins, will receive a check for $4,000...

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By Matt Kelly, via the Ithaca Journal, 03/18/14

The Finger Lakes Climate Fund, a project backed by Sustainable Tompkins, will receive a check for $4,000 Friday from the Ithaca College Net Impact club and Purity Ice Cream.

Ithaca College students involved with Net Impact staged a “Carrotmob” with Purity in fall 2012 that drove an additional mob of customers to the Ithaca ice cream shop for one day. The Carrotmob moniker is inspired by the idiom of using a carrot, or incentive, to motivate rather than a stick to punish.

Lauren Goldberg, who led Net Impact’s efforts in 2012, said the intended goal of the Carrotmob is to increase traffic to a local business for one day in order to motivate that business to make sustainable changes to its facilities. Goldberg and her classmates chose to work with Purity, however, after they learned that the store’s owners, Bruce and Heather Lane, wanted to donate the proceeds back to the community.

“The idea is to reward a business for wanting to make a sustainable change,” Goldberg said. “We were excited to work with Purity because of their energy and enthusiasm and their desire to give back to the community.”

After evaluating several charitable organizations in Ithaca, the owners of Purity decided to make Sustainable Tompkins’ Climate Fund the beneficiary of the proceeds generated from the Carrotmob. The Climate Fund works to assist local families make necessary energy efficiency improvements to their homes when they could not afford to do so otherwise.

Bruce Lane, who had worked with the Climate Fund several times to reduce carbon emissions from his business travels, said the organization made the most sense for what he wanted to accomplish.

“Their organization was already designed and in place to take dollars and funnel them through to homeowners that would do small-scale projects that would materially improve the energy efficiency of their home,” Lane said. “Helping people in a smaller way can lead to a greater good.”

Goldberg and Net Impact used several tactics to drive business to Purity in the days leading up to the event, Oct. 5, 2012. Club members posted flyers on the Ithaca College campus, walked around in carrot costumes to spread the word, and promoted the event through the club’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

While the day was marred slightly by rain and chilly temperatures, Goldberg said Net Impact was able to attract a steady stream of customers to the ice cream shop. Local bands, including the Erik Caron Connection and Wren, entertained customers along with the Ithaca High School Robotics Club.

“We were just happy that as students living in Ithaca and benefiting from all the resources that Ithaca has to offer we could give back to the local community,” Goldberg said. “Net Impact’s mission is to use the power of business to create positive social change, and so being able to give to Sustainable Tompkins was a great outcome for this event and we couldn’t be more happy.”

Lane said the event was as beneficial an experience for the students in Net Impact as it was for his store and for The Climate Fund.

“What’s wonderful is that these students are learning how businesses operate, and at the same they’re learning how businesses can operate with more of a social goal in mind,” Lane said.

Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins, said she was delighted when she learned that her project was chosen as the Carrotmob’s beneficiary.

“This donation strengthens the resilience of our entire community by helping families be less economically at risk by living in a household that is ridiculously expensive to try to heat,” Nicholson said. “Even though we have a very worrisome problem on our hands, it’s through all of these different actions like this one that we’re going to make a difference in terms of climate destruction.”

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