Elephants keeps pedaling toward change
By Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Mama Leone’s or Tomato-Orange?
Devotees of Elephants Delicatessen generally divide themselves in two camps based on their soup preference.
That they spoon up that soup with a biodegradable spoon may be an afterthought to the average customer, but it’s a symbol of a focus on sustainable practices that is core to the 31-year-old company’s operations.
Elephant's Deli was in the first class of "Climate Champions," a designation of sustainability excellence developed last year by the city of Portland’s BEST Business Center. It landed the Energy Star award for Small Businesses for its strides in energy efficiency and purchase of renewable power.
But rather than keeping the award plaques dusted, and touting them with a marketing blitz, Elephants has continued to explore new ways of greening its business while continuing its rapid growth.
In opening two new locations in a little more than a year, Elephants Deli is not afraid of trying new things.
Elephants' takeout location at Portland International Airport opened last November, hard on the heels of its Elephants on Wheels location on Southwest Fifth Avenue in downtown Portland.
"Both have been successful," said Anne Weaver, Elephants' operations chief for the last 28 years. "Our growth this year has been tenuous, but slow and steady."
Stan Jones, aviation environmental compliance manager for the Port of Portland, was happy to see Elephants take the plunge at the airport — if for no other reason than it makes his job to reduce waste a bit easier.
"Elephants is already doing above and beyond what we’re able to do right now," Jones said.
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