Molly Moore — Co-founder & COO, SUPER (Single-Use Plastic Elimination or Reduction)
Molly is a sustainability professional specializing in waste reduction (specifically single-use plastics), with eight years’ experience innovating client-specific tools and processes in order to reduce environmental and social impacts across private, public, and NGO sectors. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Systems and a Certificate in Energy Solutions from Bainbridge Graduate Institute / Presidio Graduate School. As a former REV Sustainability Circle Coach, Molly has an extensive track record helping companies become more sustainable while saving money.
How did you become interested in environmental work?
I grew up loving animals and regularly visiting a great zoo (the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle). They do a great job of educating visitors about habitat destruction and the impacts humans have on the natural world. As a kid I quickly made the distinction that if I wanted to protect animals, I needed to protect the environment. From then on, I knew I wanted to do environmental work and just needed to find where I fit in.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Climate change is the most concerning issue for me. Honestly, it can get me down. I start to think that if we don’t find solutions for climate change, nothing else matters, because it will drastically impact every other issue.
This is one of the reasons I really like focusing on plastic reduction. Plastics are super visible and play a role in so many aspects of climate change — the oil industry, pollution, racial inequality, and health, just to name a few. Climate change can be this big, lofty topic that makes it hard to know what I can do as an individual, but reducing my plastic use at home is something I can actually see by having a less cluttered bathroom, or only taking out the trash once a month. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference on a larger level.
Discuss any mentors who have helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.
During my time in the Recycling & Waste Prevention Department at Seattle Public Utilities I had an amazing boss, Pat Kaufman. We were able to talk openly about my strengths and weaknesses, and he encouraged me to use work time to improve my weak areas. For example, I had always considered myself “bad” at networking — I’m an introvert, and talking to new people can be scary. Pat suggested I set a weekly goal for having networking coffees with colleagues. It gave me a safe environment where I could get to know my coworkers and practice something I struggled with. He also encouraged me to dive into areas I found interesting, and really learn the ins and outs of the waste industry. I would not be nearly as well informed about how the system works without these experiences.
What inspired you to start your business and how did you take the leap to start it?
For years now I’ve really wanted to focus on waste prevention, but could not find a company that was doing it in a way that I wanted to get involved. When Manuel Maqueda (my co-founder) reached out with the idea of SUPER (Single-Use Plastic Elimination or Reduction) I saw it as an opportunity to take everything I had learned and channel it into something I believe can have a large impact.
It took a while to fully jump in — we started talking about the idea in May 2018, when I was working for a sustainable prefab startup, NODE. I stayed on there until SUPER was ready for the next phase, fully switching over in July 2019.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector of the environmental movement?
One of the best things about reducing waste or plastics is that it does not need to be your full-time job. Reducing waste at work is something everyone can do — whether it’s making a scrap paper pile for note-taking or purchasing office items that don’t use single-use plastics. And there are a lot of things you can do at home — switching from shampoo in a plastic bottle to a shampoo bar can make a big impact, from using less plastic, to lighter shipping, and more!
Whether it’s at work or home, go room by room and start with the things that are simple one-for-one swaps. Then go back through those rooms and do things that are more challenging, usually focused around behavior change. Every little thing you do at work and home can create ripples that transform into lasting change.