By Lily Laurence, MBA Candidate
We have too much stuff. Consumer society turns nature into waste and structurally ignores social justice. We’re drowning in “production” that may add GDP, but doesn’t move the needle on happiness, and actively undermines our natural capital. Presidians get it - and even better, Presidians are doing something about it. But we all know this already. People come to Presidio Graduate School to change the world, right?
I’ve got a challenge for Presidians on Earth Day this year.
For Earth Day 2016, Yerdle challenges you to buy nothing new for 30 days, and get what you need reused instead (except for perishables like food).
I’ve been working at Yerdle for the past year while finishing the MBA program, and believe strongly that Yerdle and the growing “sharing economy**” is a crucial part of building the circular economy we need, a new socio-economic system that works for everyone over the long haul.
The second part of the challenge is incredibly important: “get what you need reused instead,” because we all need stuff. It’s ok to need clothes, to get furniture for your home, toys for your kids, to start a new sport and need equipment - but does the stuff have to be new? What if we made things better, and used them more? The supply chain impacts would be incredible and the social connections formed by passing things along - amazing. Humans have been “sharing” this way forever, it’s just in the last century we got so excited about the promise of technology, we forgot.
It’s time to bring it back. We need stuff, but what we don’t need is guilt, unnecessary production, or billions of items sitting around in our closets and garages. Much of the unused stuff we already have is in great shape and can be put to good use by someone who needs it.
In April I led a campaign on Yerdle to challenge our community to “Yerdle for a Month” and not buy anything new. More than 200 people—from all across America—are taking the Challenge right now, including our own Inna Henry and Megan Crocker. More sign up every day, and we want Presidians to join us! At Yerdle we’re betting that you can not only take the Unshopping Challenge, but that it will also change your relationship to stuff.
Here’s what a few folks said on Facebook recently:
“I have managed to get all the birthday gifts I need for April off Yerdle. I have bought absolutely nothing new at all. I am finding that there is really nothing new that I need.” -- Monica M.
“Guess what I did today! I actually went to Walmart and bought food ONLY! Do you know how hard that is for me?...I did not venture away from the grocery side of the store.” -- Sissy S.
This is social change.
Yerdle co-founder Adam Werbach said:
“We created Yerdle with the very specific mission of reducing waste and trash. So far, we’ve helped people save over $3 million on items that weren’t being used – and that they got for free. By connecting the idea of reuse with a mobile ‘unshopping’ experience Yerdle is cracking open consumerism and introducing a new behavior to the retail marketplace. We’re excited to help people enjoy the benefits.”
(We’re now on Android and iOS!)
How Yerdle works:
Step 1: Post a pic of something that you know has value, but is not useful to you anymore.
Step 2: One of the hundreds of thousands of unshoppers on Yerdle will see your post, and it’s just what they’ve always wanted. They’ll give you Yerdle Reuse Dollars (get 25 YRD just for signing up) to get it.
Step 3: Let it go; ship the item to its new home. The receiver pays shipping.
Step 4: Enjoy the benefits of having cleared space in your life, while making someone else happy.
*Unshopping, v.: 1. The act of letting go of things you don’t really need anymore; the opposite of hoarding. 2. The act of acquiring the things you need from someone else, without going to a store or spending any money. 3. A behavior change that shifts consumerism away from waste, and toward a more sustainable, less expensive lifestyle.
**Although it should really be called the idle capital economy! Less sexy, but more true.
“One of the biggest challenges we face in our economy is the separation of money from things of true value.”...