Maia Tekle – Co-Founder – Dispatch Goods
Maia Tekle is the co-founder of Dispatch Goods, a Bay-Area-based startup revolutionizing reusability within the food packaging space. A lifelong environmentalist, Maia has always been passionate about leaving the planet in a better place than when she found it. Prior to Dispatch Goods, Maia was the West Coast Partnerships Lead at Caviar (then DoorDash) where she met Lindsey Hoell. Seeing how much single-use plastic was being consumed daily motivated Maia to shift gears and join Lindsey to help solve this huge problem. Outside of Dispatch, Maia is the proud fur-mom to Pepper, a true crime ‘murderino’ and upcycling crafter.
What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?
I’ve learned that you don’t have to major in something really specific in order to enter a lot of fields, and you can definitely have a meandering career and still land in a place that you love. Make sure you find something that you care about – it makes the long days completely worth it.
How did you become interested in environmental work?
I was raised as an environmentalist. I grew up collecting rainwater to water our veggie garden, we reused everything (my mom still has ricotta pints we upcycled to use as containers to pick berries) and I thought everyone had a big compost bin in their front yard. I didn’t start to hear the internal alarm bells about wanting to make a change until I lived in New York where they did not recycle at the time. For a while, I thought I’d just land as a low-waste consumer, but then I met my co-founder Lindsey, and the rest is herstory.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
One challenge I see is that while there are a lot of women represented within sustainability, many operate within larger male-dominated industries (agriculture, logistics, supply chain, etc.). They come up against the same barriers, pre-conceived notions and challenges just to be given a seat at the table.
What I’ve found, and where I see an opportunity, is within areas that are new frontiers. With our climate solutions, we need to reinvent systems, with new perspectives and new
ideas. Who better to not only come to the table, but also build a brand new table than people who have been left out of traditional industries?
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector of the environmental movement?
Start small. Something as simple as getting your local coffee shop to accept reusable mugs. Then see if you can get your favorite salad spot to offer plates for dine-in (or even just utensils!). Challenge the status quo, and don’t let perfection prevent you from taking steps forward. Our climate crisis will be solved by tons of minor adjustments and changes done imperfectly.
Your voice and your dollar are two of the most powerful tools you have. Use them to let companies know WHY you’re not ordering from them nor supporting their business. Or use your voice to encourage the first movers – cheer them on publicly across social media and sites like Yelp to let them know they’ve made a solid move by putting our planet at the center of their decisions.
Support and champion legislation. With legislation can come sweeping changes for good.