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Going paperless takes the hassle out of hiring

An interview with Ashley Frias of Three Degrees restaurant.

When Portland’s Three Degrees restaurant moved their hiring process and employee resources online, they found that it made life easier for both staff and applicants. It also saved time, reduced printing costs and cut paper use by over 9,600 pages per year.

Interview with Ashley Frias, Three Degrees restaurant

Three Degrees restaurant is part of the RiverPlace Hotel, located on Portland’s west-side esplanade, overlooking the Willamette River. The restaurant and hotel are part of the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants group.

Beet salad  Front of restaurant  Dinner

Why go paperless?

The initiative came from our parent company, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. They wanted to move all of their properties – 65+ hotels and 75+ restaurants – to a paperless online employee system.

Kimpton already had sustainability initiatives in place for paper; they required all paper have 35% recycled content and that soy inks be used for printing. But they saw reducing paper as an opportunity to push their sustainability goals further. 

Paper reams

The amount of paper printed, per year, before the switch to an online employee system. 

What switched from hard copy to digital?

Job applications Applicants now apply through online forms. If an applicant is hired, their information is automatically transferred to their New Hire forms, and a manager helps them get set up in the Kimpton online employee system. In the old paper system, they had to fill out two sets of paper work – once when applying and again when they were hired.

New hire paperwork Personal information like social security and checking account numbers are now entered by the employee into a secure online system, rather than in paper form. Our New Employee Handbook – which is 72 pages long – used to be printed for each employee. Every time the handbook was updated, we’d give printed copies to all staff. Now the handbook is online, and staff can log on to the website to read the handbook and sign-off electronically that they’ve seen the information.

We've reduced our paper by 130 pages per new hire. That's about 800 pages per month.

Paychecks Unless an employee requests a paper paycheck, they're set up for automatic deposit and digital paystubs. Employees can also download W4s and W2s from the online employee system.

Employee benefits Each employee has their own log in to the Kimpton online employee system, where they can request time off and review their benefits and performance reviews.

Staff scheduling Scheduling for restaurant staff is now available online, making it more convenient for staff to check their work schedules.

Three Degrees bar menuMenus for staff review Whenever the menu changes, staff are provided detailed information about new items. This information used to be printed, but now PDF versions are emailed to staff.

How long did it take?

It took two years of planning and we made the switch in December (2014). It took time to learn the new system, but now everyone’s used to it, and it’s working really well.

Any tips or take-aways?

We have a computer onsite for employees who don't have easy online access outside of work. Managers help employees get set up in the online system and continue to be a resource if they need help.

The online system is available in Spanish and French, so employees can access information in whichever language they're most comfortable with. We're hoping to make more languages available in the future.

It's great to have everything in one place. Employees can access information on their own, rather than having to go through different people to track it down.

The online system automated many of the administrative processes related to hiring and HR, saving time as well as paper and printing costs.

Which software do you use?

We use Vantage through ADP.

 Log in page  Employee handbook

Employee login page and PDF of employee handbook, available through the online employee system.

What’s next?

Kimpton is looking into moving from a paper to a digital system for conveying restaurant orders to the kitchen staff.

Upcycled bags, empowered youth

A conversation with Rachel Hestmark about her business and youth entrepreneurship program.

Rachel Hestmark outside of her workspaceRachel Hestmark designs and sews upcycled bags from upholstery material that would otherwise be landfill-bound. She’s also passionate about fostering young entrepreneurs, through her newly created Ignite Youth program. 

Rachel’s fourteen years of experience making upcycled bags began when she made a “mom bag” shortly after her first son was born. At her mother-in-law’s urging, Rachel got a small upholstery machine and started making bags out of upholstery fabric and selling them at holiday fairs, bazaars and art walks. 

When Rachel realized that she wanted to make her bags full time, she enrolled in a three year program with Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO). MESO connected Rachel to a Portland State University class that helped her write a business plan. Rachel also took classes on marketing 101 and trademarks, and got a grant through MESO to buy equipment in her early stages. “Everything they offered, I took advantage of.”

Rachel holding a flower print bag Rachel holding a bag Rachel at her sewing machine

An acquaintance suggested Rachel contact the 42nd Street Business Association, who was looking to offer retail and workshop space to local small business. It was a great fit, and she’s using the space for her youth entrepreneurship program, and to get a feel for what kind of space she really needs for her business.

Rachel buys leftover upholstery fabric from Layton-Newport, a furniture manufacturer in St. Johns, and turns it into different styles of bags and pillows. Because the fabric “ends” are small, she often has only enough of a particular print to make a few bags. This means all of her products are limited edition; a quality her customers love.

As Rachel designs new bags, she keeps an eye out for other creative re-use opportunities, sourcing fabrics and other materials from SCRAP and the Rebuilding Center.

“People love kid’s art!”

Rachel is passionate about developing young entrepreneurs, and recently created Ignite Youth, a 12-week summer program. Rachel coaches the kids on how to package, price, market and sell the crafts they already make. The youth then sell their crafts at their own booth at Cully Farmer’s Market. She teaches the kids about profit and loss, and how to keep up their materials and inventory. At the Cully Farmer’s Market, the kids do their own selling; Rachel is there just to supervise. 

Youth BoothYouth selling crafts at the Cully Farmer’s Market Youth Booth. 

Rachel models the program after her relationship with her own kids. Rachel’s son and daughter both make crafts – her daughter makes a variety of things including wallets, bracelets and headbands – and Rachel has been helping them sell them for years.

“I will teach your children what I taught mine.”

Participating youth are welcome to work on their crafts in Rachel’s workshop on Tuesdays from 11-4. She and other parent volunteers supervise the kids while letting them be the drivers of their own creation. "It's a great way for kids to have something to do all summer, to stay out of trouble, and make a little money to buy the things that they want." Rachel also works with the kid’s parents so they have support at home, including introducing them to places like SCRAP, for affordable re-use craft supplies.

“It’s also about teaching kids how to feel comfortable with themselves and what they make.”

Youth entrepreneurship is about more than selling a product; it’s also about teaching kids how to feel comfortable with themselves and what they make. Rachel is working to get more youth selling their own crafts at the school bazaars that she frequently sells her own goods at. She hopes this will be contagious and that those participating will “start infecting their friends with the possibilities of their own success.” Rachel is instilling in these kids that you “do a good job, present well, and people will appreciate your work.”

Follow @hestmarkdesigns on twitter and visit her Facebook page for more info about Hestmark Designs and Ignite Youth. 

Recovering waste, investing in communities

A conversation with Alando Simpson about his business, and giving back to the community.

Alanda SimpsonCity of Roses, the first African American owned solid waste and recycling company in Oregon, is a specialized hauler for construction and demolition waste. Since it was founded in 1996 by Al Simpson, City of Roses has been a fixture in the community. They’re an innovative, socially conscious B-Corp Certified company that values the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. 

LEED Buildings, CORE Recycling and a focus on sustainability.

When Al's son Alando joined the family business in 2007, LEED was just growing in popularity. Alando felt it would continue to grow, and saw an opportunity for City of Roses to establish themselves as a hauler that could help clients achieve LEED points under the materials management credit.

In 2012, City of Roses’ recycling division, CORE Recycling, opened its own sorting facility, allowing them to capture more materials for recycling, and send less to the landfill. It also allowed them to provide LEED clients with the site-specific data necessary to achieve points.

City of Roses invests in the human capital needed to sort and store materials from particular projects to guarantee clients higher recycling and recovery rates. Alando helps LEED clients by documenting the recycling process and the specifics of their high recovery rates.

Alando’s foresight has paid off; City of Roses is now a leader in the industry. 

  • In 2014, had a 68% recycling rate for comingled materials that did NOT come to the facility already sorted as recycling.
  • CORE Recycling has a 65% average recovery rate.

City of Roses also believes in growing a diverse work force: 85% of their employees identify as a person of color. Alando, who worked the front line at the company starting at age 19, works to maximize each employee’s potential. “We really invest in employees, giving them the skills and resources and wisdom to get a better opportunity – be it with City of Roses, another company, or starting their own company.” Alando wants his employees to see work not as a job but as a community they want to be a part of. He keeps an open dialogue with employees and aims to create a shared vision for the company.

Looking toward the future: Increasing recycling and reuse

City of Roses recently opened up a deconstruction and demolition division to salvage more materials for reuse. With the new division, they are working to create a recovered materials list so developers can use reused materials in new buildings. Alando aspires to expand City of Roses to a full service hauler and materials management company that will provide services for demolition and construction, and then serve as the building’s garbage and recycling company once it’s built. 

City of Roses team

Giving Back

Alando is always finding ways to give back to the community – be it other businesses, his employees, or community organizations. Here are a few ways he works to build up the local economy by investing in youth in underserved communities:

National Association of Minority Contractors – Oregon

National Association of Minority Contractors Oregon logoAlando sits on the board of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMCO). Through NAMCO, Alando is working to build bridges that connect resources and tools with underserved youth. One way NAMCO is doing this is through scholarships to youth who study construction, architecture, urban planning and other fields related to contracting.

Alando wants to give youth tools to sustain a community of their own. To Alando, one of the biggest problems with gentrification is the lack of education and resources to help people make informed decisions while their communities are changing. With NAMCO, he’s working to provide youth from East Portland the education and experience that can help them better retain and build up their own communities. 

FAST camp

Three years ago, Alando started FAST camp – Fitness And Sustenance Training – to empower and invest in younger kids. Alando grew up in North Portland but went to school in the West Hills. His peers at school demonized his community and were “scared of the east side.” Alando wants to help kids break down the silos of ethnicity and class and build a framework for building prosperous communities for future generations.

FAST camp uses sports as a way to bring kids together across cultural, class and ethnic backgrounds. One of the biggest disparities in underserved communities is health, and sports help people stay fit and healthy. At FAST camp, sports are a tool to empower youth to invest in their physical well-being while also giving them powerful role models.  

Alando with kids at FAST camp

What does FAST camp do?

  • Build and sustain communities through sport.
  • Develop support networks and integrate communities.
  • Encourage sports to empower underserved/underrepresented youth.
  • Empower vulnerable communities with the knowledge to reverse nutritional disparities.

FAST camp works closely with its Community Partners – Hacienda CDC, NAYA Family Center and the African Youth and Community Organization (AYCO) - because they know the kids the best: who they are, and what challenges and disparities they face.

FAST camp runs quarterly challenges for kids to become more health and fitness conscious. Community Partners are responsible for overseeing the youth participating in the challenges. FAST camp gives out prizes like shoes and backpacks to participating youth.

FAST camp is looking to grow a program to eliminate food deserts in underserved communities and improve access to healthy cost-effective food. Alando wants to give kids metrics around healthy food consumption and is working on ways to help them eat more affordable fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about the great things City of Roses, NAMCO and FAST camp are doing for the environment and our community. 

Back to the farm, less waste per plate

How Crave Catering answered the question, "What would it look like to be completely sustainable?"

Mark holding radishes Crave Catering grew out of a taqueria Mark Lopez started with his family in 1997. In 2008, Crave Catering moved into their current catering facility in SE Portland. When they moved in, they retrofitted their lighting to be more energy efficient (with help from the Energy Trust of Oregon), installed energy efficient appliances, and adopted a goal of reducing their environmental impact by 10% each year. For years, they met this goal through things like improved energy efficiency, composting, and reducing waste.   

Then Mark asked himself, “What would it look like if we were completely sustainable?”

tomatoes on Mark's farm

Mark started growing vegetables and raising laying hens on the 2.5 acres he shares with his wife and two kids. He started with tomatoes, his favorite food. Today, Mark grows 25 varieties of tomatoes and 10 different types of summer squash, as well as different varieties of herbs and fruit trees. He also raises fifty laying hens that produce eggs for the business and manure for fertilizing the soil. For Mark and Crave Catering that meant closing the loop between farm and fork.

“I’m a tomatoholic. They’re my favorite thing in the world. Especially fresh picked off the vine.” 

Each morning Mark brings fresh eggs and vegetables from the farm to Crave’s kitchen in SE Portland. In the evening, Mark takes vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and whatever leftover food isn’t being fed to people back to the farm for the chickens and to make compost.

Mark is growing vegetables and raising hens as sustainably as possible. 

  • No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals are used.
  • chickens on the farmDrip irrigation cuts down on water waste.
  • Cover crops reduce soil erosion, naturally suppress weeds and add organic matter back into the soil. 

Crave makes smart use of their leftovers to cut down on food waste. 

  1. Clients can choose to keep their leftovers.
  2. Remaining leftovers are offered to employees.
  3. Large quantities of leftovers are donated to local food rescue organizations.
  4. If food has been sitting out for a while, it gets fed to the chickens or composted. 

Continued improvement

Mark takes time to fully understand the environmental and social impacts of his business, and isn’t afraid to change practices if a better option is available. For example, back in 2008, Crave’s truck ran on biodiesel, with the intent of fueling up on recycled cooking oil. But when Mark learned that the biodiesel available to him was a virgin product coming from largely GMO corn, he sold the truck, and bought a hybrid vehicle, shifting his focus to reduced fuel use.

Community involvement

It’s no surprise Mark thinks deeply about sustainability. He grew up in a house that had a vegetable garden, turned off lights and unplugged things when they weren’t being used. Mark’s environmental work extends beyond his farm and kitchen; he’s been a member of Greenpeace for twenty years and is a founding member of the Sustainable Catering Association. 

Crave Catering regularly donates food to Potluck in the Park and the Union Gospel Mission. Crave also supports the Oregon Food Bank and has taken part in their annual auction for the last three years. 

Plans for the future

Mark hopes to someday expand to a much larger biodynamic farm with livestock: beef, pork, goats for milk and cheese, laying and boiler hens, and maybe even specialty bison and quail. On the farm, livestock would be rotation grazed to build up the soil. He even dreams of opening a small winery in the growing Southern Washington wine scene. He would also love to have his own event space, where clients could hold events on the farm itself. 

root vegetables in bathtub

Learn more about Crave Catering's farm and sustainability practices.