By Amy Watkins HBJ Freelance Writer
LYNNWOOD — Stephen Hershman believes it’s time for his young company to give something back.
Three years have passed since his document-shredding business, The Shred Stop, installed a prototype kiosk in Haggen’s Top Food and Drug in Edmonds. Since then, Hershman, 35, and his business partner, Keith Rettig, 45, have added 17 more in-grocery kiosks to Fred Meyer, Haggen, Safeway and Top Food &Drug stores in Washington and Oregon. Another four kiosks are scheduled this summer to go in Safeway stores in San Francisco.
“We’ve learned a lot over the years,” said Hershman, who started designing the kiosks after his identity was stolen in 2003. “One of the biggest problems was making the jump from a local grocery store chain into a national chain. It was frustrating but we’ve finally got the right mix of stuff going on.”
With business going strong, The Shred Stop partnered with the National Forest Foundation to help restore 120 acres of forest. The company donated an initial $1,000 to the National Forest Foundation in January. The overall goal is to donate $10,000 by the end of June, Hershman said.
One dollar per every 10 pounds of paper shredded goes to the foundation’s Treasured Landscapes conservation campaign site in the Pacific Northwest: The “Majestic Methow” in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The project includes wilderness and backcountry habitat restoration, forest restoration and invasive plant removal. Trail restoration and maintenance to support sustainable recreational use as well as wildlife enhancement such as beaver reintroduction and wolverine monitoring are also part of the project.
A few different ideas for the partnership were discussed before a decision to support the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest project was made, said Kathleen Dowd-Gailey, Pacific Northwest regional director for the National Forest Foundation. The donations from The Shred Stop will go toward some invasive species removal and forest restoration work and will be matched by the Forest Service, she said.
“I was so appreciative of working with (The Shred Stop) because they’re willing to make a commitment and have a meaningful impact,” Dowd-Gailey said.
An environmental focus has been part of The Shred Stop since its beginning. All of the shredded paper is recycled and repurposed. The kiosks themselves are over 99 percent recyclable and built using LED lighting and ultra-efficient electronics.
“I really like the idea of doing forest restoration because not only does it meet our personal environmental appetites but we’ve also dovetailed it well into our business,” Hershman said. “Not only are we recycling paper but a portion of what you’re paying is going to plant new trees and restore forests.”
The Shred Stop is also giving a portion of every transaction from customers who use their BECU credit cards to support an effort by BECU and the conservation organization, Forterra, to clean up the Duwamish River shoreline in Tukwila.
Locate and check the status of kiosks at theshredstop.com. Shredding costs $2.50 per minute and up to 50 sheets of paper can be shredded at one time.
For more information about the National Forest Foundation, go to www.nationalforests.org.