As kids, we were always taught to share. It was a tough thing to do. I remember my small fingers tightening around my Super Nintendo controller whenever my brother asked “Can I play?”. Often, my parents would have to intervene. “What is more important” they asked, “the game or your brother?”. I would stare in silence reflecting on, what at the time seemed like an irrelevant question, before quickly turning my focus on how to get to the next level in Zelda. Loving my brother did not erase the power of possession, or the fear of letting go. Fortunately, this changed. Overtime, I discovered that the more I shared, the more my brother shared with me, and the happier we both felt. Today, we share clothes, swap CD's (yes, we still do), and hair gel.
In essence, this is the basic principle behind a growing sharing economy. By providing a way to share, innovative organizations are helping individuals experience its joys and benefits. There are many examples, including ride share programs, bike share programs, and share anything sites, like Yerdle.
But, how does a sharing economy fit with being environmentally conscious? To try and answer this question, I asked Mr. Carl Tashian, the co founder and VP of engineering at Yerdle, for his thoughts.
Yerdle is a neat idea. It eliminates any notion of bartering (Ebay, kijiji, etc) and replaces it with the idea of a gift. There is a sense of giving and reciprocating. The promise of Yerdle is just to give things away and, trust me, it feels good. The reception has been positive, sharing and giving are natural behaviours that are quite powerful and contagious.
Beyond just feeling good, Yerdle allows users to simply not buy new stuff. As someone who is conscious of how much impact buying a new product, whatever it may be, has on the environment, doing that less is appealing. Also, I get to meet someone new during the exchange. This someone is local, and builds my 2nd degree network. By sharing with my local community, my decision to not buy impacts someone else directly.
In a business sense, a Yerdle user sees a clear benefit – there is an immediate value in sharing (it is free) and it is good for the planet. On a more community level, Yerdle brings people together, which can benefit the local economy (check out our recent post on local foods).
My talk with Carl left me optimistic. I am hopeful for organizations like Yerdle and believe that sharing can work. Sharing won't eliminate the production of goods, and it shouldn't, but it brings communities together and certainly benefits the environment. Often, environmentalists get discouraged by the many obstacles the cause faces. Pessimism becomes a best friend. I am not downplaying the complexities of the multitude of issues our environment is facing, but maybe we are missing the simple, natural behaviours that could grow into a large benefit to the cause. Sharing. It feels good, try it.