But for us the problem isn't just plastic. It's really the throw-away culture that's at the root of plastic pollution and a host of other environmental issues. So we work to "make throw-away go away" through:
BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT to transform iconic venues to become Throw-Away-Free Places.
POLICY making sit-down dining throw-away-free, paving the way for reuse businesses to tackle to-go.
INNOVATION bringing entrepreneurs, city officials and investors together to create the conditions for reusable to-go businesses to scale and thrive.
SOCIAL MARKETING campaigns that poke fun at single-use and show there’s a better way than throw-away (that’s way more fun!).
We create the space, develop tools, and invite business leaders, policymakers and culture hackers to join us in changing the world.
We're Solutions Engineers.
We see a better future, and we want to build it with you.
We're Innovators and Catalysts.
We're not into easy fixes. We work for lasting, transformative impact. We leverage everything we've got to drive systems change.
We work to change hearts and minds, and spread good news!
We're Friendmakers and Movement Builders.
We inspire people to join us in making a difference together. And we're all about having fun while doing it.
We know the plastic pollution space, and we know how to effectively lead in it.
We helped create #BreakFreeFromPlastic - an international movement of more than 1400 NGOs - working together to solve plastic pollution. We built a network of local government leaders throughout the the US and Canada to work for sustainable policy. We helped the Urban Sustainability Directors Network develop its first plastic pollution project. We formally advise the UN’s Environment Program on plastics-related strategies. We sparked the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) movement in the US, leading to the passage of more than 100 laws now on the books. Our team speaks to large audiences around the world. We've brought together thousands of business, non-profit and government leaders to solve big problems, and we know its going to take all of us to build something better.
For us, the future is real, reusable, and throw-away-free.
Come join us and let's create it together.
You might think we're anti-plastic zealots. We're not.
Palo Alto, CA and NYC
New York City, NY
Los Angeles, CA
Podcast Host and Collaboration Maven
Brooking hosts UPSTREAM’s The Indisposable Podcast and guides our team on virtual collaboration and culture-building. She has worked on plastic pollution issues since 2016 as a facilitator and strategist. She has spent much of the last decade supporting collaborative leadership for many ambitious change efforts - from saving monarch butterflies to curbing diabetes. In her spare time, Brooking can be found writing and performing poetry, or hosting community-connection events in her local LA neighborhood.
Podcast Host and Collaboration Maven
Miriam has had a life-long interest tackling waste and toxics issues to make the world a better place. Previously, she was the California Director of Clean Water Action between 2008 and 2016, where she launched ReThink Disposable, a program that helps food service operations move to throw-away-free. She was a leading advocate helping the Clean Seas Coalition secure 150 local bag bans and 100 foam bans, and helped ban micro-beads in personal care products and secure the statewide bag ban victory in California. Working for the state, she authored the California Action Plan to Reduce Land-Based Discharges of Marine Debris and the California Marine Litter Reduction Strategy.
Policy Coordinator and Organizer
Eva Holman is the co-founder of an San Francisco-based zero waste & plastic free business, Goods Holding Company, a long time volunteer for the SF Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and an Ambassador for 5 Gyres. She led the Rise Above Plastics Program for Surfrider SF, which looks for ways to reduce plastic pollution by finding alternatives to single use plastic, for 8 years. She has spent most of the last decade focused on finding alternative solutions for plastic straws, single use plastic cups and lids, plastic shotgun wads, plastic to go ware, single use plastic packaging and wrapping, plastic micro fibers, cigarette butts and more - and is dedicated to education and outreach in local schools and in SF neighborhoods.
Chief Friendmaker & COO
Julie joins Matt to form UPSTREAM's management team. Whether she's out front making friends and building networks or behind the scenes making sure UPSTREAM is working like a smooth machine, she is an ensthuastic believer in a better way than throw-away. Julie brings 25+ years of experience with non-profits of all sizes, community problem solving skills, and a Peace Corps experience to UPSTREAM. And she plays frisbee year-round, outside....in Maine. No cabin fever here.
A writer, editor, and activist, Lauren is UPSTREAM's Lead Unicorn, directing our flow of magic, management, social media, and special projects. Co-leading the #BreakFreeFromPlastic Integrated Narrative group with Shilpi Chhotray, Lauren works with partner groups to bridge the full story of plastics, from fossil fuel extraction to ocean microplastics. She also serves on the #BreakFreeFromPlastic US Convening Team, connecting groups working toward the same plastic-free future.
Lead Creative and Storyteller-in-Chief
Inder coordinates and executes much of UPSTREAM's outbound marketing. His background in filmmaking and storytelling brings a special kind of flare to the way stories are shared throughout UPSTREAM's ecosystem.
Imagineer, Norms Entrepreneur and CEO
Matt is a recognized thought leader within the plastic pollution community and advises the United Nations Environment Program on their plastic pollution strategies. He is one of the founders of the global Break Free from Plastic Movement and the founder of the Cradle2 Coalition and Make It Take It Campaign. He helped establish and advance the Electronics Takeback Coalition, the Multi-State Mercury Campaign, and the Safer Chemicals and Healthy Families Coalition. Matt has written for the Guardian, GreenBiz, and Sustainable Brands among other publications. He’s been featured in the Economist, the New York Times, on NPR’s 1A, Jack Johnson’s Smog of the Sea film, and consulted with 60 Minutes on their plastic pollution special.
Director, Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives
Following a life altering dive experience in the Philippines she left her 20 year corporate career in 2016 to become an award winning underwater photographer, speaker, and ocean conservationist. She travels to the South Pacific, Asia, and Caribbean, to explore plastic’s impacts in remote areas and identify opportunities for collaboration to improve the status quo. Based out of NYC, she organizes and participates in ocean events,, speaks at corporate and campus events to raise awareness and empower communities and people to BE the change. She is a speaker and writer for the ocean. Her work has been published in Ocean Geographic, Dive Photo Guide and the Goethe Institute. She is a co-author of the UN Report on “Solving the Plastic Problem.”