GO Box Founder/Owner
Where did you grow up and (if not Portland) what brought you here?
I grew up in New Jersey, just outside NYC. I left the east coast back in 1989 -- and never looked back! I came to Portland to work for the Oregon Environmental Council in 1998 (before that I was in Berkeley and Olympia).
How long have you been biking?
I started biking as a kid -- and never stopped!
What kind of bike do you ride?
I have my "fast bike" which is a LeMond road bike, but my "slow" bike, which I use for GO Box, is an old Univega (although I'm in the process of upgrading to something a little zippier).
In what ways do you use your bike?
Although we own a car, I default to my bicycle for trips in an around the city as much as possible. All GO Box pickup and delivery is done by bike (of course!).
If you could change one thing about your bike commute to make it easier or more comfortable what would that be?
My bike commute is pretty darn easy as is. If I had to come up with something, I'd say I'd like to see the pavement on the west side of the Hawthorne bridge around 2nd & Main repaired (its a heavily used bike route, but the road there is in pretty rough shape).
How do you carry all your stuff when you’re biking? What do you do with it when you arrive?
I have a burgundy-colored waterproof Ortlieb bag I love. It has a nice strap, so it goes over my shoulder when I arrive.
What are the best and worst parts of getting there by bike?
Best -- getting exercise, being outdoors, seeing and smelling the world around you, all without any climate-changing emissions. Worst -- the triple whammy -- cold, dark and wet rides.
How do you feel about helmets?
They aren’t necessarily fun to wear, but they save lives.
Where did you get those brown boots that you ride in?
I love my KEEN boots! I wear them all winter -- on and off the bike. They have a purple tint to them, which makes them even better -- since purple is my favorite color (sadly, KEEN stopped making them in this color).
What are your dogs’ names and where did you get them?
Sancha and Pinta are our Mexican mutts. We lived in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico for a year in the mid 2000's, and we adopted them both while there. Everyone asks if it was hard to get them into the country -- its not!
Tell us how GO Box works and how you came up with the idea.
GO Box is a service providing reusable take-out containers to the downtown food carts -- and other eateries -- and their customers. I've always hated getting those single-use disposable "clamshells" that gets used for 10 mins and then tossed in the trash. It’s so wasteful. So, I decided it was time to offer other eco-minded Portland-ers another option for getting their meals to go. Customers sign up for GO Box to get their meal in a reusable container, return it to a nearby "drop site" in exchange for a special GO Box token, and then keep that in their wallet until they're ready for their next take out meal. Since launching, GO Box-ers have eliminated the use of over 35,000 disposable containers!
How did your organization spread to other states?
Because this is a new concept, several media outlets have run stories about GO Box, so folks all over the U.S. (and beyond!) have read about GO Box -- and some have contacted me asking how they might be able to bring GO Box to their city. So, I decided to license the business, so someone can take advantage of all the materials and processes I've created here to launch GO Box in their city. The good news is that the system works in any dense urban setting where there are a lot of take out establishments -- it doesn't have to be food carts. GO Box Sacramento just launched, and GO Box San Francisco is going to launch sometime this year.
Tell us more about your partnerships in regards to washing your to-go containers…
GO Box relies heavily on partnerships. We have partnerships with local businesses, which host drop boxes for the GO Box returns, and we have partnered with others to get the GO Boxes washed. Two downtown restaurants -- the Original and the Bijou Cafe -- generously donate their washing capacity, and Transition Projects manages a lot of the washing at their downtown housing facility. It works out well for everyone, as TP helps people get out of homelessness, and they have folks in their job training program doing the washing.
What is this awesome bike trip you and your husband are planning?
We're planning a bike trip to Eastern Europe and the Balkans this fall -- from Prague to Istanbul. It’s a trip that's been on my "bucket list" for a long time.
If someone you knew wanted to start riding to work (or play) instead of driving, what advice would you give him or her?
Do it! It beats sitting in traffic and circling the block looking for parking. Go to your local bike shop, make sure your bike fits you properly, and with the right gear, you'll be all set.
Laura is wearing the Classic Dress in Black