A new sharing community named yerdle was launched in San Francisco that will attempt to make the retail industry more environmentally friendly by connecting unused goods with people who can use them.

The company's FAQ section of its website explains that the word yerdle, which is both a proper noun and verb, means "to get the things you need from your friends."

This article on SFGate covers how yerdle functions and features experiences from people who have used the service as well as comments from the founders of the company.

The co-founder of yerdle and former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach believes that retailers should be "looking at ways not to just sell more things." 

"In San Francisco, we're struggling with getting the last 20 percent out of the waste stream and a lot of this comes from new products you buy and the packaging. If you can borrow that chain saw from the person next door, the retailer's job is to help you with what you're trying to do, not just sell you another chain saw."

This line of thinking may seem counterintuitive to the heads of successful retail chains, but Werbach and yerdle co-founder Andy Ruben, a former Walmart executive, believes company mottos like "sharing is more fun than shopping" and "why shop when you can share?" make perfect business sense.

"Many of the things that we need right now that we're out buying are in our neighbor's closets and garages," Ruben said. "That's a concept that intrigues us."

Yerdle launched its website and mobile app to Bay Area residents after three months of testing that involved a group of about 1,500 users. Once members are authenticated through Facebook they have access to give or receive goods within their social networks of friends and friends of friends.

"There's a set of items that are either occasionally used or used intensely for a short period of time – baby clothes, shin guards, camping tents, kitchen pasta makers, ice cream makers – that your friends probably have and aren't using," Werbach said. "Our goal is to make it as easy to get something from your friend as it is to buy something new."

The company does not charge for each sharing transaction, although the recipient might pay a small fee for shipping, depending on how the item is delivered. Some goods may be dropped off at yerdle's 14th Street offices for free pickup, and the company is working with couriers to develop low-cost local delivery and pre-paid mailers to send items to faraway lands.

"We're not manufacturing anything," Werbach said. "We're just using things that are already manufactured."
It seems to make inherent sense to put our possessions to use, even if that means allowing someone else to do the using. Reducing the amount of unnecessary sales of items has an added benefit of eliminating waste, which has a positive impact on the health of our world. One of the things that all of us share together is our planet, and services like yerdle may eventually play an important role in providing us all a better place to live. 

Image by bengrey, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.