What’s a Yerdle?

Yerdle is the brainchild of Adam Werbach, chairman of consulting and communications firm Saatchi & Saatchi S. (as well as a former 23-year-old president of the Sierra Club), and Andy Ruben, formerly the chief sustainability officer at Walmart. Our founder, William McDonough, supports the Yerdle concept, which is dedicated to helping people think about how they acquire and use things and how they can shepherd those things into additional use cycles.

Here’s an excerpt about the effort–

Some day, the word Yerdle may morph into a verb. You might mention to a friend that you need to buy a saw or some other hand tool for a house project. “Well,” she would reply, “You should just Yerdle it.”

Yerdle launched today, Black Friday, in an effort to kill retailing. Sort of. Yerdle would like to change the very nature of retailing and the ways individuals think about how, where and why they acquire things. It provides a web-based platform for friends to loan or give away things they’ve been holding onto but no longer use. The Yerdle website and mobile applications are formally launching today –- timed symbolically to thumb its nose at the Black Friday buying spree.

The idea struck pay dirt with co-founder Andy Ruben last fall, at his kid’s soccer game. “My [then] 5-year-old daughter was starting soccer. We bought shin guards online. As I sat at her first game and watched the field full of 5-year-olds and the adjacent field full of older girls who had likely outgrown their shin guards, it occurred to me how insane the whole model is. I am fairly certain the shin guards we bought new were sitting in my neighbor’s garage, from a year earlier — and my neighbors would have loved to have seen them used again.”

Bill McDonough, the architect and designer who, with Michael Braungart, launched the Cradle to Cradle product design and lifecycle system, says Yerdle recasts the notion of what a consumer is and is not. “How do you consume a baby carriage, or a crock pot, a polyester fleece? You can’t. You’re a customer of these things and you want the service they provide.”

Until, that is, you no longer require their services. At that point, the thing most of us do is cast them off…often to a landfill. Indeed, that is the concept behind the planned obsolescence of consumer products that environmentalists have long railed against. That said, what other choice do we have when we literally grow out of our needs for things, like a baby carriage? Craigslist is one option. Yerdle, now, is another. Instead of giving them to strangers, maybe giving things we no longer need to our friends, or friends of friends, will feel safer and more gratifying.

You can read the full article at this link.