But as it turns out, even baby steps can have their rewards. Ranjeet Singh, owner of Sam's Best Food Market in Fremont, Calif., installed energy-efficient light bulbs in his store. And because of that, a horde of locals planned to patronize the store this past weekend to show their appreciation and support. Singh had bought new energy-efficient lights and ballasts, which cost him $280 after a nearly $500 rebate from PG&E. The shoppers planned to put many times that amount back into Singh's coffers.
The concept is Carrotmob, which is a network of people who do the opposite of boycotting organizations they disagree with -- rather, Carrotmobs organize through a blog, a newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter and then descend upon businesses that make socially responsible decisions.
In an interview last year, Brent Schulkin of Carrotmob explained the idea:
"First, technology now allows us to easily connect and coordinate our activities like never before. Secondly, in the last couple years, environmentalism has gone mainstream. And third, we have a reputation economy, and companies are putting huge resources into protecting or improving their reputation.
"Moreover, these days bloggers and normal citizens have much more power over the reputation of businesses. In an age when companies are desperately trying to be seen as authentic and good, they have plenty of motivation to try and please an authentic grassroots network of consumers like us, since they know we have great power when it comes to defining their reputation."
Green initiatives can save your company money, lessen our impact on the planet, and, as it turns out, even conjure up some business. Yes, going green could be a marketing tool for small and midsize businesses. And as Schulkin pointed out, harnessing the power of technology can help get the word out.
One last thought: Do not confuse Carrotmobs with flash mobs, which have been accused of leaving a huge mess for city officials to clean up. Carrotmobs don't leave a mess of feathers in their wake.