Who we Are

UPSTREAM is a non-profit sparking innovative solutions to plastic pollution.  

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 problems. So we're building a movement to "make throw away go away" through:

BUSINESS INNOVATION to transform iconic venues to become Throw-Away-Free Places, and create the conditions for reuse businesses to thrive.

POLICY to create Indisposable Communities by making sit-down dining disposable-free, and paving the way for reuse businesses to tackle to-go.

CULTURE CHANGE campaigns that make single-use history and show there’s a better way than throw-away (that’s more fun!).

We're a little different than your average non-profit.

We're alchemists. We create the space and invite business leaders, policymakers and culture hackers to join us in changing the world.

We're solutions engineers, innovators and catalysts. We're not into easy fixes. We leverage everything we've got to drive systems change.

We're storytellers. We work to change hearts and minds, and spread good news!

We're friendmakers and movement builders. We see a better future, and we want to build it with you.

We know this space, and we know how to effectively lead in it. We helped create #BreakFreeFromPlastic - an international movement of more than 1400 NGOs. We built a network of local government leaders throughout the US and Canada - and have helped to pass more than 100 laws now on the books. We formally advise the UN’s Environment Program on plastics strategies.

We've brought together thousands of business, non-profit and community leaders to solve big problems, and we know its going to take all of us to build something better.

Meet Upstream

Dawn Erlandson

Minneapolis, MN

Clayton Kyle

Vice President
Portland, ME

Steve Sherman

Berkeley, CA

David Stitzhal

Seattle, WA

Mark Hays

Washington D.C.

Lauren Daniluk

Palo Alto, CA and NYC

Jon Hinck

Portland, ME

Marion Hunt

New York City, NY

Letise LAFeir

Washington, DC

Leslie Tamminen

Los Angeles, CA

Brooking Gatewood

Podcast Host and Collaboration Maven * Los Angeles, CA

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.

Miriam Gordon, J.D.

Indisposable Communities Director * San Francisco, CA

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.

Rich GrouSset

Entrepreneur-in-Residence * Brooklyn, NY

Rich first became obsessed with reducing the waste associated with single-use disposable foodservice products while completing his MBA and MS in Environmental Policy at the University of Michigan. In 2011, he co-founded the university's first reusable to-go container program, Go Blue Box, then in 2013 co-founded a start-up, BizeeBox, to expand adoption of reusables in the restaurant and workplace cafeteria markets. Over the years Rich has given presentations about reusable to-go container programs on Capitol Hill, at California Resource Recovery Association's annual conference, and to anyone who will listen. He is currently living in Brooklyn and working on several foodservice disposables projects, including a project funded by an EPA grant to pilot a reusable to-go container program in an NYC workplace cafeteria.


Policy Coordinator and Organizing Guru * San Francisco, CA

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 * Nobleboro, ME

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.


Communications & Outreach Coordinator * Portland, ME

A writer, editor, and activist, Lauren directs our flow of magic, management, social media, and special projects. As a leader of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic U.S. movement, Lauren connects change-makers working toward the same plastic-free future from fossil fuel extraction to ocean dumping.


Lead Creative and Storyteller-in-Chief * Vancouver, BC

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 and CEO * Rockport, ME

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.

Jane-Marie Smith

Project Coordinator, Throw-Away-Free Places * New York, NY

Jay is first and foremost a lover of flora and fauna who can be found planting trees and petting bees on any given continent.  A collector of experiences, Jay enjoys hiking, diving, exploring new places and cultures, and is also an actively contributing member of music, literature, film, and graphic arts communities.  In addition to being involved in environmentalism, Jay is a Youth Aid panelist, a mentor of at-risk adolescents in her local community through the Teen And Police Service Academy (TAPS), and is a Keynote speaker for her county’s Public Defenders Office regarding human rights and justice system reform.  Jay has balanced her love of all things creative and volunteerism with a fruitful corporate career, spending the last 10 years as an information technology analyst and consultant.  Jay joined UPSTREAM in 2019 as Project Coordinator for Throw-Away-Free Places and is deeply excited to be a part of an organization aligned with her own ethical beliefs and practices.


Director, Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives * New York, NY

Following a life altering dive experience in the Philippines she left her 20 year management consultant 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.” She joined UPSTREAM in 2019 and leads Throw-Away-Free Places.