PodMob for Sustainable Sushi all Rolled-Up

We can change business as usual.

We buy things everyday.  Businesses will do anything for money. Businesses will do anything for our money… so why don’t we use that power?  To use our purchasing power requires organization, and until the Carrotmob came around, groups hadn’t seen ‘our money’ organized on a grassroots level successfully. We took the concept to Vancouver, and we’ve called it the PodMob*.

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

*Pod – group of Vancouverites. Mob – the act of organizing our purchasing at one place and time.

The concept: A big group gets together and agrees to buy things at one place and time.  Now, we have pooled our money into a large sum we can use to negotiate with. Negotiate what?

How about sustainable sushi?

Vancouver is full of sushi – the West End alone has over 20 sushi spots. I can’t convince a sushi restaurant to drop farmed salmon from their menu or start composting scraps by threatening not to purchase a $10 sushi combo.  But a group of 100, 200, or 300 people that stop in for sushi on a particular day does have enough combined money to persuade a sushi restaurant to step up to our challenge to green their restaurant.


The challenge:

  1. Green your operations (i.e. energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and purchasing/supply chain).
  2. Label your menu so we know what items are sustainable (based on the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide).
  3. Offer at least one “Best Choice” item from the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide.

What does ‘greening your operations’ really mean? The Green Table Network heard about the PodMob and stepped in to offer a one-year membership to the business we PodMobbed. They are experts in greening the hospitality industry, and their membership provides tools, guides, and a great network.

The Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide bases it’s ranking of ‘sustainable fish’ on the state of natural stocks, fish farming practices, harvesting methods, and health concerns (i.e. PCBs and mercury).

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The bidding:
It all started on a rainy November day. I walked into almost every sushi restaurant in the West End, and told them I would bring them a mob of paying customers if they committed the highest percentage of one day’s revenue to ‘greening’ their restaurant.  Considering the state of the fish stocks across the globe, we also asked the restaurant if they would spruce up their menu with some sustainable sushi options.

Shad DJs ROCK!

Shad DJ's ROCK!hi options.

A handful of restaurants stepped up to the challenge and wanted to dig their teeth in and learn more.

The top bid came from Sushi Bento Express at 31% of revenue from November 20th.

The PodMob

I met a girl while I was canvasing the sushi restaurants that thought her boyfriend, Simon, would totally be into lending a hand. So I met up with Simon, who works at Change, about a week before the PodMob. He also introduced me to Lorien, from Limelight Events. Between the two of them we handled a whole bunch of last minute things that I hadn’t had time to think about and designed some awesome posters! We pulled together a great night that harnessed West Enders’ purchasing power to create change in a local business.The PodMob was a success!

Lisa Johnson from CBC covered the story on the 6 o’clock news, and the CBC wrote an article on sustainable sushi. I also got

the chance to speak with Mike McDermid from the Ocean Wise program on BC Almanac with Mark Forsythe. Jackie Wong wrote an article in the  WestEnder that featured our story on November 20th. Sushi Bento Express put together a sustainable sushi combo menu just for the day. Shah DJs pumped out awesome tunes. Boyd, our sponsor from 3rdwhale.com, asked trivia questions and gave out bamboo t-shirts.  Tiny Bites popped in to review the sustainable sushi scene. An intrepid trio from Bowen Island even made the trip across the drink to munch on guilt-free sushi. Of course, there was also a mob of West Enders that kept the Flores brothers busy all night. We’ve got pictures to prove it!

What impact did we have?? Drum roll please…..

85% increase in revenue!

Over 100 Podmobbers on the scene.

Sushi Bento Express upped their contribution to ‘going green’ to 33% – they rock!

The Flores brothers were amazed by how many people showed up for the PodMob, and they’ve decided to keep the sustainable sushi combos on the menu full time. They’ve also committed to labeling their menu with green, yellow, and red dots so you can make informed choices, and exploring Ocean Wise Certification.

Where did the PodMobbers come from? Some saw our youtube videos, got an email, saw a poster, facebook, or heard about it from a friend.

Eat sushi. Save the ocean.

Line up out the door

Line up out the door

With an introductory meeting with the Green Table Network under their belt, the next step is an audit. A Green Table representative will spend half a day at the restaurant observing how things run, and then they will be able to compile a list of suggestions. This is where energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste management will improve.

Eat sushi. Save the climate.

We’re going to keep tabs on the changes that happen at Sushi Bento Express, and report back what the impact. How many kilowatt-hours, liters of water, and kilograms of waste are diverted? Stay tuned!

Eat sushi. Save the planet.

Congratulations to everyone that came out and participated in the PodMob! You rock!

3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

A 3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

Originally posted at 3rdWhale.com



Filed under Climate Change, People Power

2 responses to “PodMob for Sustainable Sushi all Rolled-Up

  1. Pingback: Carrotmob Victoria Comes to a Coffee Shop Near You « Small Feet

  2. Pingback: Carrotmob Has Come to Vancouver « Small Feet

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