Transporting goods like coffee beans via wind-powered commercial ships is, in fact, quite possible. First, this video from the Carbon War Room provides some helpful context about existing efforts to make commercial shipping more sustainable, and why it matters:
Making traditional shipping more efficient is very important, but switching over to renewable wind power is even better!
While it's rare to see businesses ship products internationally in this way, there are some precedents. For example, Mast Brothers Chocolate Company recently began sailing their cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic to Brooklyn, New York (Watch the video). In addition, since 2009 a ship called Tres Hombres has sailed rum, wine, spices, cocoa, and more between Europe, the Caribbean, and America. By pursuing this path, Thanksgiving Coffee is a pioneer, but thankfully there are others, such as Fair Transport and the Sail Transport Network also working towards the same goal.
$150,000 is the minimum that we need to spend in order for Thanksgiving Coffee to be able to justify setting out on this quest. The first step in the process is research. So the income Thanksgiving Coffee generates from our campaign will allow them to employ a researcher to determine exactly how they can feasibly transition to wind-powered shipping. While we already know this is possible, there are a number of questions to be explored before they know what path will make the most sense. For example, which would be more feasible: a sailboat or a cargo ship with sails? Will it be a hybrid ship? One likely outcome is that they end up with a boat that does three round trips each year between Nicaragua and Fort Bragg, California, plus two round trips each year between Peru and Fort Bragg, California. But is that really going to be the best approach? They are committing to hire someone to find out. At the end of the research phase, they will prepare a study/report on what is feasible (essentially a business plan). Rather than being something used only by Thanksgiving Coffee, they will share this report with the public, so that any company in the world can take advantage of what they learn.
The next step of the process will depend on the findings of the report. The business plan will define the best way to move forward, and no one knows for sure what that path will look like. It may be that the next step would be for Thanksgiving Coffee to buy a boat, either with help from investors (unless we spend way more than $150,000, in which case they may have leftover funds which would go towards the purchase of the boat), or possibly with other partner businesses who may want to share usage of the boat. Or maybe it turns out that buying a boat is the wrong move, and it makes more sense to work with some other shipping company who is equipped to make this happen. There's a small chance that the report uncovers unanticipated obstacles which could make it infeasible to transport coffee by wind. Imagine that the only way to make it work is to charge $50 for a bag of coffee. In a case like that, Thanksgiving may not be able to move forward with the project. That's right: There's no guarantee that they will be able to make this work. And that's the way it has to be.
When we started negotiating, we kept asking them: "OK, so how much would we have to spend in order for you guys to *guarantee* that you will buy a boat?" But there's no answer to that question. If we were asking them to put up solar panels, it would be easy to calculate the cost. Solar panels have a known cost, so a business can run the numbers and safely commit to installing them. But with wind-powered shipping of coffee, not only do neither one of us know what it will cost, but there is NO ONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET who actually knows what this will cost. The cost which we DO understand is what it will cost to hire someone to come up with the answers to these questions, so that's what it makes sense to do first. It's silly to ask a company to promise to do something when no one knows exactly what that thing is yet. The important thing is that Thanksgiving Coffee is ready to fully commit to this goal. They have the courage to push the envelope when no one else is doing it.
If we fail to spend the minimum amount of $150,000, then we won't have done our part as consumers, and they won't be able to pursue the goal of wind-powered shipping. But don't worry, if that happens, your purchase will still advance the cause of sustainability: Thanksgiving has agreed that if we don't reach the goal, all of the money that would have been set aside for the shipping project will instead be donated to The Resilience Fund (a non-profit venture started with the help of Thanksgiving Coffee) which will use the funds to provide clean cookstoves to people in the communities around the world where Thanksgiving's coffee is grown.
We've got to spend as much as we can. If we spend less than $150,000, then the portion that would have gone towards wind-powered shipping will be donated. If we spend more than $150,000, then the pool of money set aside for wind-powered shipping will continue growing, with no limit. Every dollar we spend advances the goal and makes it more likely that we will be able to revolutionize how coffee is shipped. And if we spend so much money that there are funds leftover, those funds will be donated to The Resilience Fund, as described above.
In order for purchases to count towards the campaign goal, people must go through the blue "Buy Coffee" button on this page so that the unique code is created and your purchase is counted as a Carrotmob purchase. Please do NOT send your friends directly to the Thanksgiving Coffee website. Send them to https://carrotmob.org/thanksgiving so their purchase gets counted.
Carrotmob is generating revenue from this campaign by receiving a small percentage of the money which is being spent. This is the same revenue model as Kickstarter and many other ventures. Having a revenue model is how we will be able to expand this model and create more opportunities like this for you to vote with your money in the future. Once in a while we meet people who assume that we can somehow get by without a revenue model just because we are a mission-driven social movement. Well, we can't, but if you are sensitive to the fact that we are getting revenue from this, you should know that we spent years trying to pursue our mission as a tax-exempt non-profit, but then we found out that it's not actually legal for us to do that (according to IRS rules), so we switched back to a for-profit business model. It's a crazy story if you're interested in boring tax law... feel free to read more about our history.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company is an artisan coffee roaster in Northern California. They've been around for 40 years — and roasted some of the first fair trade and organic coffee around. The family-run company buys coffee beans from small farms and cooperatives around the world, and is committed to sustainability.
They already embrace cutting edge sustainability practices, but they want to push their limits, and go beyond what any other coffee company is doing.
No known coffee company currently transports coffee beans with wind-powered boats. Instead, they use container ships fueled by oil. Thanksgiving Coffee dreams of becoming the first company to transport its coffee using wind power, making it as Earth friendly as possible.
Follow Carrotmob for the latest updates on this campaign:
Organic + Fair Trade
"Rich aroma, with dark chocolate and spicy cedar notes..."
"Guatemala Guaya'b" by Thanksgiving Coffee Company
"Blind Assessment: Pungently rich aroma, with dark chocolate and spicy cedar notes. In the cup round, roast-muted acidity, smooth mouthfeel, continued cocoaish chocolate and cedar notes with a hint of raisiny fruit. Long, flavor-saturated finish.
Notes: Produced by the Guaya'b Cooperative of small-holding Mayan-Quiche farmers in the admired Huehuetenango growing region. Certified organically grown and certified Fair Trade, meaning it was purchased from small-holding farmers at a "fair" or economically sustainable price. One of the country's pioneering socially and environmentally progressive roasters, Thanksgiving aimed to combine coffee quality with social and environmental responsibility years before the latter preoccupations became fashionable. Visit www.thanksgivingcoffee.com or call 800-648-6491 for more information.
Who Should Drink It: Labeled a light roast, but dark enough to mute the acidity and develop the chocolate and pungent cedar potential of this excellent small-holder Guatemala."
In a Carrotmob campaign, a group of people offers to spend their money to support a business, and in return the business agrees to make an improvement that we care about. We are called Carrotmob because we use the "carrot" instead of the "stick." Traditionally, people who wanted to influence businesses would threaten or attack them. We believe people can have more influence on businesses by giving them a positive incentive to change: our money.
Why is this campaign so important?
Two reasons: 1) It can prove the potential of the Carrotmob movement, and 2) It can change the coffee industry.
1) This is the first large-scale Carrotmob campaign. We've already had more than 250 successful local campaigns at small businesses in over 20 countries. But we want to prove by voting with our money that there is market demand for sustainability on a large-scale across the globe. We believe that if we get enough people together, we can make purchases as a group and influence some of the largest businesses in the world. But that will only work if we can prove our potential value to businesses. Right now, business leaders across the world are watching to see if this campaign succeeds or fails. If we want to take this movement to the next level, this campaign must succeed.
2) Since coffee is the most widely traded agricultural commodity in the world, the potential impact of this campaign is enormous. Small coffee companies have already transformed industry practices. For example, just look at the increase in Fair Trade sales over the past decade, a trend led by small coffee companies. A move by artisan roasters towards wind-powered shipping has the potential to truly transform the coffee industry as well as other industries like chocolate, sugar and more.
Does this coffee actually taste good?
Oh, it's good. Thanksgiving produces "extraordinary, luxurious coffee." Some roasts are "delicate but lush" and others "richly expansive and deeply dimensioned." No, we didn't make that up, just search for Thanksgiving Coffee on Coffee Review. Or just take our word for it...
I don't live in the US, can I still participate in the campaign?
Yes - anyone, anywhere can participate in the campaign as long as you make your purchase by clicking on our blue "Buy Coffee" button.
I don't drink coffee, how can I participate?
Spread the word about our campaign by telling your friends and family - share this link in an email, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. We also encourage you to buy coffee as gifts for friends or family who will enjoy it. Buy some to bring to the office. Or you can buy gift certificates - after you click the blue "Buy Coffee" button this option is located on the right hand side bar under the lower green "Check out" button.
Is the coffee Fair Trade certified?
Almost all of the coffee that Thanksgiving Coffee sells is Fair Trade certified. A few of the single origin blends are not yet certified but they are working on it!
Which purchases count towards the goal?
We suggest you buy the recommended products for Carrotmobbers that you will see after you click the "Buy Coffee" button, but technically, anything you buy from their site will count towards the campaign goal.
When will I receive my coffee?
Usually, the coffee ships out of Thanksgiving Coffee's warehouse within a day of purchase. But we're hoping that our mob buys so much coffee that we overwhelm them and cause short delays. Muhuhuhahaha!
How does Thanksgiving Coffee know whether a purchase is made by a Carrotmob member?
Should we tell our friends to go to ThanksgivingCoffee.com to buy coffee?
No. In order for purchases to count towards the campaign goal, people must link from this page so that the unique code is created and Thanksgiving Coffee can count your purchase towards the Carrotmob campaign.
How can I help make sure this campaign is a success?
1) Buy lots of coffee. Try a monthly subscription. For example, if you sign up for a 12 month subscription, you will only pay for the first month, but all your future payments will be earmarked to go towards the cause, even if you don't actually pay for them until many months in the future. In addition, you should buy gifts, bring some to work, and ask the person in charge of buying coffee at work to buy some on behalf of the office.
2) Spread the word about our campaign by telling your friends and family - share this link in an email, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
The fastest and easiest way to join Carrotmob is by connecting with your Facebook
account. You will also be able see what your friends are doing on Carrotmob and quickly
share some of your activities with your network. To learn more about how this works,
read this. If you
are curious about the permissions we're requesting of your Facebook account,
this. Clicking this button will NOT post anything to your Facebook wall.