I made a New Year's resolution this year: buy nothing new and get what I need exclusively on Yerdle for a full year.
I'm calling it "The Y4Y Challenge": Yerdle for a Year!
It's my attempt to try out the buzz around the sharing economy. How sharing are we really?
What exactly does Y4Y mean?
No more brand new jackets. No more impulse buys. No more Amazon "let's see what new gadgets are out there" indulgences. None of that. Instead, my exclusive source for material goods in 2015 will be Yerdle.
If I decide I need something, I'll have to post things I already own on Yerdle in order to earn Yerdle Credits to shop for what I want. Yes, I have to barter.
And what if I run out of stuff to post?
I may have to ask friends and family for their unwanted things - I'll become a sort of pied piper for unwanted things, calling them out of their idle closets or drawers and getting them back into use.
It will surely be a journey, and I invite everyone following it to join me and help me do this. I expect it to get harder as time progresses. It will test my commitment to my values. I might even make a mistake and buy something new at some point (noooo!). But I hope to use the whole experience as a vehicle to explore my own relationship to stuff and sustainability, and to examine broader trends in behavioral science, the sharing economy and reuse.
I'm actually very excited about it. But back to the reality of today...
How's the Y4Y challenge going? So far, so good. (Yes, ok, only 3 weeks in).
So, who is this crazy person who decided to take this Y4Y challenge?
I'm a social media marketer, entrepreneur, yoga teacher, and as my friends and husband say, a Yerdle addict.
But let's start a little earlier: I was born and raised in Germany, where I grew up in an environment that taught me to care about our planet. I don't remember ever not recycling paper, even though my parents had to drive it to a stinky place to drop it off. Soon, separating our garbage for recycling became the law.
My parents showed a lot of civic courage and I found myself demonstrating against nuclear weapons and power at a young age. They taught me to speak up for what I believe in. I am a member of Amnesty International, have volunteered on a non-profit board, mentored an Afghan refugee and generally try to do my share.
I am not writing this to say how wonderful I am, but to show that the mission of Yerdle is something that fits right into my value system.
But I am also as vain as the next person. I really like fashion and nice clothing. And I like having a modern and stylish house and garden with "cool stuff". And electronic gadgets. So far, I have satisfied my cravings on periodic shopping trips to malls (which I hate) and second hand stores. I like having new things but not shopping for them.
As I run my social media marketing consultancy for a living, I get to work a lot from my home office. This has cut down on my need for fancy suits (hello, Hugo Boss). But as I do need to look presentable when I visit my clients in person, we will see how that works out.
I started doing yoga to de-stress, became a teacher and now teach 2-3 yoga classes a week. I am also a big big fan of meditation and the mindfulness movement. I truly believe that we are all connected in this Universe and we have an obligation to take care of this beautiful world around us. Hence, #reuse, #recycling, and #sustainability matter to me.
I met my husband in a bar in Palo Alto. He thinks I'm a little crazy for Yerdling so much, and he prefers to buy things new. We'll se if I can change his mind a bit this year.
Why did I decide to do this?
I was introduced to Yerdle during a presentation on the collaborative economy, installed the app, and the rest is history. This was in April 2014.
Yerdle says that: "The north star goal of Yerdle is to make sharing the new shopping."
Their mission: "Reduce the number of new items purchased by 25%."
That sounds great, right? But if you've watched the HBO series Silicon Valley or have lived in Silicon Valley for a while like me, you know that every company here wants to make the world a better place. Yes, living here, I have developed a healthy dose of suspicion and cynicism.
Is Yerdle for real?
As every self-respecting social media person would do, I took to Google to research Yerdle. I learned that Patagonia, a company I admire, had just become a Yerdle investor which gave me trust. Yerdle are also a B Corporation.
Soon after, I got invited to the Yerdle HQ in San Francisco for a Pro Yerdler meeting. Imagine my surprise when some of the Yerdle team actually seemed to know me, mainly from my social media conversations about Yerdle on Twitter and Facebook. Especially Rachel Barge made me feel very welcome.
Yerdle Co-Founder Adam Werbach spoke about the virtues of reuse and sustainability, as well as the future of Yerdle. I had to check out if he was for real.
According to Adam's Wikipedia page, he was elected as the youngest national president of the Sierra Club and has otherwise been engaged with organizations like GreenPeace.
Being blond but not a dummy, I understand that convictions are good but that it takes more to run a successful business.
Does Yerdle have what it takes?
Adam Werbach once founded and lead the SF-based sustainability consultancy firm Act Now that was later acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi and is now called Saatchi & Saatchi S. Adam's convictions were questioned by some when Act Now provided sustainability consulting to Wal-Mart. Something I hope I can ask him about some time. I generally think it's good to try to achieve change vs. just complain.
The other Yerdle co-founder is Andy Ruben, who used to work at Wal-Mart as their CSO and I am giving him the credit of the doubt that he has seen the light also, as he now, obviously, works at Yerdle.
I like to believe he was trying to make Wal-mart more sustainable. I don't shop at Wal-mart or eat at McDonalds, but as many do, it seems better to make these companies better than to ignore them completely.
Let's GoAt the end of 2015, if I have not put my blog readers to sleep (or there are none), I hope to write a book about the experience. Please accompany me along the journey!