MCNW Seminars Fuel Environmentally Minded GO Box
Laura Weiss has been on a seven year mission to get us Portlanders to ditch disposable food containers. She’s done it with GO Box, and so far she’s kept 120,000 disposable food containers from the trash cans of Portland. That’s a stack twice as tall as Mt. Hood.
Mercy Corps Northwest seminars and networking events have helped Laura along the way. She attended marketing and using market research seminars as well as a women’s business summit.
GO Box is a reusable and returnable take out container service available to us food cart loving “cartivores” at more than 70 food carts and restaurants in Portland and San Francisco.
Customers start by signing up for an $18 per year membership through the GOBox app. Participating vendors stock GO Boxes and package food inside them. Customers then return the box to any of Portland’s 40 private or 6 publicly available drop boxes, including one at the Mercy Corps Action Center. Laura’s team then use bicycles to transport used boxes to local partners who wash the containers. The clean boxes are distributed back to food vendors and the cycle begins again.
Laura’s background is in environmental policy, but the idea for GO Box was always about business.
The GO Box model is ambitious. After all, it’s about behavior change. “We needed to explain to people our service means they don’t have to carry around an empty box,” Laura said. “It’s up to people to decide their actions actually make a difference”.
To overcome these challenges, she learned to explain GOBox more simply. “My first flyer had a lot of words”, she said. She hired a firm to refine her messaging and redo the website. The new story has paid off. GO Box has had 3,500 people sign up to use the service to date and they’ve been featured on CNN, NPR, and in The Oregonian.
Laura’s advice to other entrepreneurs is, “Don’t be afraid to ask other people for what you want — don’t be afraid of being turned down”. Laura’s idea has made a serious environmental impact and we’re proud she’s a part of the Mercy Corps Northwest community.