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The CounterCoin Challenge – what’s next?  (By Mike Riddell)

The CounterCoin Challenge – what’s next? (By Mike Riddell)

30 Nov 2018
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And the winner is…..Burslem (The Co-Operative Academy of Stoke on Trent).

Mel and Narina were so, so close, but the kids at the school knew what they had to do to win (they started after everyone else but also had the advantage of knowing the other results. A bit unfair you could say…but it wasn’t me that told them, honest guv!).

Truth be told,the real winner was CounterCoin because on £400.00 we managed to run one event across 7 towns to make around 4,000 CounterCoin We thought we could do it and we did it. (Thanks again Valentine Clays).

So if we say we’re going to do it, we will.

Which brings us to the next challenge.

Bagging the Co-Op as our first major branded redeemer.

For those of you who don’t know, supermarkets are under a lot of pressure from the discounters Aldi and Lidl.

They are eating into their market share and the Co-Op need to respond.

At the same time, Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco and Morrisons are all in a price war, trying to defend their own share of the market.

The Co-Operative are quite a bit smaller than these big supermarkets, so are getting caught in the crossfire.

In response, their defensive strategy appears to be one of differentiation as the ‘good guys of supermarket retailing’. This is them going back to their roots in community.

Of course, for all of us, this is right up our street!

Why not allow Co-Op customers who’ve earned CounterCoin to part pay for food that is reaching its sell by date using CounterCoin?

It’s an obvious opportunity, for them and for us. It’s a good way to promote sustainable behaviour change.

Unlike the other supermarkets, the Co-Op don’t have (we don’t think) any kind of distribution system or network that deals with the food that’s reached its sell by date. It goes straight in the skip.

So maybe we can help them develop that distribution network as a more positive alternative to food banks – a network that incentivises community action and volunteering and enables those that have earned CounterCoin to ‘Pay with Clay’.

That’s the thinking anyhow. We think this is a campaign.

“The Pay with Clay Campaign to Eliminate Waste”?

All about reducing food waste, rewarding good citizenship and all round cooperativism for mutual commercial and societal benefit.

I met the kids at the school with Kathie from the Sentinel (who wrote this article) and was amazed by how ready they are to tackle all forms of waste. How ready they are to work together in common purpose to put things right – to show that they can and show that they care. (Sana, you are ace!)
As you’d expect their energy and enthusiasm is unbounded.

Monica is leading the charge, along with Darryl from the school (we hope). Monica is a CoOperative Pioneer and passionate about the Cooperative Values and Principles.

So is the school. This from the wall in their class room:

But first things first.

Monica needs to discuss the idea properly with Darryl, and then with the school, and get them on board first. Then she has to talk to the local store managers to see what they think about the idea. So there’s still a lot of planning and prep work to do and who knows, someone might say no.

But think about it. The kids are ‘stoked’ about eliminating waste – not just food waste, but the empty seats on buses, the unsold seats at the cinema and at the footy game. They got the idea behind CounterCoin in a flash….….and they want to do something about it.

The elimination of waste must be one of the greatest challenges we face right now. Why not begin tackling that Challenge at the Co-Operative Academy of Stoke on Trent?

What if all the towns and all the people got behind the kids and backed the campaign to Pay With Clay?

What if we inspired other people in other areas to work together to eliminate waste?

What if the Co-Op came on board and showed the other big supermarkets that what people really want is hand up and not a hand out?

What if cooperative values and principles underpinned the way we all did business in the future. Working only with those businesses that worked with us?

Ok, a lot of what-if’s. But on 21st November 2018 – the day of the Challenge – we proved that we can answer those what-if questions with just-did answers.

The one thing I’d say about Newcastle and the six towns of the Potteries is that it is jam-packed with great people who are willing to work together for the common good. Pay with Clay isn’t just a pie in the sky idea, it’s the next phase of the CounterCoin Challenge.

For now though, we’re still in kicking-the-idea-around mode. But if the kids and the Co-Op can show the world what good really looks like, well then who else can we persuade to come on board as CounterCoin Redeemers? D&G Buses? The Odeon? WaterWorld? Vue Cinema? We shall have to wait and see but persuading a big-name redeemer to accept CounterCoin is our number one priority.

That’s all for this post but as Mel from the Y might say: “Watch This Space”:



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