Can yerdle turn consuming less into the next big thing?

For all those looking for Black Friday deals, here's one: Get what you're looking for from friends, for free. Participate in a giving spree. Help reduce the amount of stuff out there. And maybe have a magical experience in the process.

Sound a tad idealistic? A little too California dreamin’? What if I told you that the startup behind this idea was built by former executives from Walmart and Saatchi & Saatchi? And that they have big, big plans to create a global brand based on giving, sharing, reducing consumption, and maximizing reuse — precisely the opposite business model of their former employers.

Now, it’s getting interesting.

Meet yerdle (yes, another lowercase company name), officially launched today, Black Friday 2012, the traditional start of the year-end consumer purchasing orgy generally referred to as “the holidays.” Yerdle is a platform for giving away stuff to your friends, and for getting from them the things you need.

OK, you say, I’ve seen this movie before. This is like dozens of other sites for sharing stuff, like Freecycle, Neighborgoods, SnapGoods, Sharehood and SwapStyle. Oh, and Craigslist. Do we really need another?

Don’t compare yerdle to any of those other sites, or you’ll likely raise the hackles of its founders, Andy Ruben, Walmart’s first head of sustainability, and Adam Werbach, who has a long and colorful history, from a college activist, to the Sierra Club’s youngest president, to the head of sustainability for the advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. In between, Werbach had a consultancy that worked with Walmart to engage its employees in sustainability. Which is how Werbach and Ruben hooked up.

The two co-founders view yerdle as different from the other garage-sale-style websites. They get their inspiration from social media communities like Facebook, and from retail membership programs like those at Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon. They see the potential for growing a business with a similarly iconic brand, customer affinity, quality experience, and global reach.

Like so many online businesses these days, it all begins with your friends.

yerdle is a platform for giving away things away to people you know, or getting things you need from them. By signing up, you access your Facebook network and are immediately connected to all that they have to offer. I’ve been participating in a beta version of the yerdle. Through my Facebook connections I found that I have 102 “friends” on yerdle (out of about 1,400 other beta testers using the site prior to its public launch).

My yerdle friends are offering a range of things. One of them is giving away dozens of children’s items — books, games, clothing and the like — as well as a coffee maker, a pillow, and a set of four Rosie the Riveter coasters.

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