Rethinking Black Friday
By Tam Putnam
I have a lot of stuff. My closets, the basement, and even a storage unit across town contain the escalating accumulation of middle-class life. And yet, somehow, I’m always shopping for more stuff: garden supplies, sports equipment, holiday gifts. So when I was invited to join Yerdle, a sharing site that, fittingly, launches today (you know, Black Friday), I accepted.
Yerdle matches people who have stuff they no longer need with people who want it. You can give an item, get an item free, or simply borrow it (the site accesses your Facebook network to find connections). A Yerdler last week could choose from books, clothes, a rice cooker, ping pong equipment, and Meyer lemons straight off a backyard tree.
In the new world of the sharing economy–spearheaded right here in the West–the San Francisco-based company has big plans. Yerdlers are now in the Bay Area only, but over the next several months, the iPhone app and website will include other cities. (Eventually, members will be able to sell the expensive goods they’d rather not give away, and Yerdle will take a cut.)
The site is the brainchild of an eco-savvy team: Adam Werbach, a former Sierra Club president, his wife, Lyn, and Andy Ruben, who previously led Walmart’s sustainability projects. The trio met when Adam was hired as an environmental consultant to the retail giant.
“We worked with companies, trying to get them to make better products, but Andy and I were hitting the limit of what you could do,” he says. “You can reduce the toxins, you can increase the amount of recycled material, decrease the amount of energy used—but in the end you’re just selling more things.”
With Yerdle, the team hopes to change the way we consume.
“Either you buy cheaper and cheaper things because you’re getting rid of them so quickly,” says Adam. “Or you can buy things that you pass on to your friends or family members.”