While Portland food carts' tasty grub is great, one factor mars our carts' bright facades: Bins of to-go food containers. Altogether, downtown food carts hand out 60,000 disposable containers a month. As of mid-July, local businessGO Box has been trying to change that.
Started by local businesswoman Laura Weiss, the GO Box is a hard plastic container that can be initially purchased for $8.50 at any of the eight participating carts. The cart gets $1.50 per box sold, the diner eats from the box then returns it to
any of the eight carts a nearby drop site, receiving a token to be used for a new box whenever they want.
Of course, you don't have to pay $8.50 to eat off reusable lunch dishes—many downtown cartivores already bring their own reusable plateware from their offices.
At the SW 5th and Stark cart pod, I asked around to see if it's catching on. A few cart owners met me with puzzled expressions, but I finally stumbled upon an enthusiastic user.
Jennifer Kaplan of Oregon Coast Fish Co. said she's had at least five GO Box users over the past couple weeks. "I bring it up with every customer unless they bring their own dish," said Kaplan. "Being such an ecofriendly area, I'm sure it'll grow in popularity."
Around the corner, Give Pizza a Chance owner Scott Davison liked the idea but griped that his over-size slices don't fit in the nifty containers. "The idea completely makes sense to me, but my pizzas just won't fit!" says Davison, who dishes out slices on paper plates.
GO Box is getting a slow start with downtown carts, but it's clearly drawing attention elsewhere. Next weekend's Pickathon is nixing disposable food containers and hosting GO Box (along with some other reusable brands) containers instead. Go, GO Box, Go!