Green startup GO Box wants to stem the tide of single-use, disposable product packaging, introducing a reusable takeout food container service that finally allows consumers to have a waste-free, to-go meal.
The company recently launched its Indiegogo fundraising campaign to help bring GO Boxes to downtown San Francisco and select cities in the East Bay, following a successful pilot program in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood that started earlier this month.
How does the GO Box program work?
After signing up for a GO Box subscription for just $29 a year (only $2.49 a month), members will receive a digital token via their email or smartphone. Subscribers present the token when they place an order at a participating restaurant, and their meal is served in a BPA-free, reusable plastic clamshell container. Once they’ve finished their meal, members return the empty GO Box container to one of the company’s drop-off sites and receive a token for their next meal.
The containers are then picked up and professionally washed in commercial dishwashers at partner restaurants, making them safe for the next customer and compliant with local health codes.
GO Box also offers a corporate program for large offices and buildings: The company provides an attractive, sustainably-harvested wood drop box where employees can return their food containers, and, for the low monthly fee of $125, empties the box weekly.
Workers appreciate being able to drop off GO Boxes and receive tokens without having to leave the office; businesses and property managers benefit with reduced trash in their offices and lower garbage bills.
The GO Box service is ideal for consumers who love the convenience of takeout food and want to enjoy the Bay Area’s vibrant culinary scene – without the waste and impact on the environment:
- Food packaging makes up 48 percent of litter on Bay Area streets, Clean Water Action found.
- 663 species of marine animals are threatened by plastics in their bodies, according to a United Nations study.
This Bay Area environmental initiative is based on the successful GO Box program for food carts and restaurants in downtown Portland, Ore., which boasts 1,700 members and has replaced 50,000 disposable takeout containers with reusable GO Boxes since it launched in 2011.
Paul Liotsakis, founder of the Bay Area’s GO Box startup, points out that the reusable GO Boxes will not only keep disposable takeout containers out the landfill, but – because reusing products has fewer environmental impacts than recycling does – they are also more sustainable than single-use recyclable or compostable containers.
“It brings me great pleasure to know that I can play a role in reducing disposable takeout lunch containers and overflowing trash bins after the lunch rush. For years, I’ve been throwing them away myself, and every time, it didn’t feel right,” Liotsakis said. “With the advent of compostables, I felt better about tossing the empty container, but knew there had to be a better solution. When I heard about a business model that could solve this problem, and that it could be adopted to other cities, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Liotsakis started a pilot GO Box program on Nov. 1 in the building where his offices are located: the American Industrial Center in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The experiment has proven to be a success: In just three weeks, over 20 people signed up, all the building’s restaurants agreed to participate and several companies bought memberships for their entire staff.
“I care about the environment, and I hate the disposable plastic containers that quickly fill up our trash cans at work,” said John Vegher, member of the GO Box pilot and founder of 3-D printing company Moddler. “GO Box helps the environment and reduces the number of times that we need to empty the trash cans every week. The rates are also very reasonable, so I got memberships for the whole crew.”
GO Box is aiming to raise $15,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to stock up on its inventory of GO Boxes and drop-off bins, recruit new members and partners, and develop smartphone apps and SmartCard technology for checking out and returning the food containers. The startup also plans to purchase a fleet of bikes and bike trailers and hire staff to transport GO Boxes in the most environmentally responsible way possible.
Campaign supporters will be rewarded with an array of fun, eco-friendly thank-you gifts which are also holiday gift-giving-ready: from a discounted one-year GO Box membership for a $15 donation to a reusable table setting, complete with cloth napkins, bamboo straw and cutlery, a carrying case and fair trade chocolate truffles in compostable wrappers, for a $50 contribution. GO Box’s Indiegogo campaign ends January 16.
Images courtesy of GO Box