Three months ago, Francesca Rogers walked into a wine bar in South London to meet Mr. Lawrence, the owner. She made a simple deal with him: “Our Transition Town group will promote your business for free, if you agree to make your bar greener with 10% of the extra custom you receive”.

Since then, supporters have clocked up enough sales to reach the target and the bar recently fitted low-energy lighting throughout.  The upgrade will save four tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

Thirty businesses in London have already signed up to the scheme – an impressive two-thirds of those approached. The energy-efficiency targets range from furniture shops saving for LED lighting to take-aways saving for electric vehicles and cafés installing solar panels.

Environmental groups have embraced the concept, called “9carrots”, as it enables them to connect with local businesses on climate change. Francesca explains: “We’re always hearing advice about how we should save energy as individuals, but we need to get businesses interested in sustainability, too. Our group sees the 9carrots scheme as a great way to get businesses involved.”

Now the idea has spread to Kings Heath in South Birmingham. Liz Peake , a member of the local Transition group, feels that the scheme has a lot to offer for everyone involved.  “It’s a real win-win situation.  Environmental groups get a ready-made scheme they can use to engage local businesses, and shoppers only have to buy what they need from participating businesses rather than elsewhere.  I think it will be a real eye-opener for a lot of people: it’s the first time they’ve made a shop greener – maybe they’ll start thinking about the power we all have to change our local community for the better”.

9carrots supports the process from start to finish by providing advice on energy-saving projects, special receipt books for businesses to track purchases, promotional leaflets and an interactive web site.  It is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers and provides free support to anyone who wants to run the scheme in their area.

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