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Here’s the Wild Idea

Andy’s Wild Idea: To reduce the amount of new items we purchase every year by 25% through his company, Yerdle.

Andy Ruben has had a unique career path. He never thought he would end up in the business world, but ended up working as the Chief Sustainability Officer for Walmart. After seeing just how many products are bought and never used or thrown out, he decided to do something about it.

In 2012, he co-founded Yerdle, a company that focuses on buying back and reselling products that might otherwise end up in a landfill, a process Andy calls “re-commerce.” Companies like REI, Patagonia, and Eileen Fisher all have their own buy-back programs where they will give you credit for your old gear or clothes, and then resell those items for a fraction of the price.

Andy is a forward-thinker with an untraditional path whose focus is to make a positive impact on our environment. While he’s aware that there’s still a need for new gear, he supports sustainable production practices. Through Yerdle, customers can get the most out of gear that already exists and keep it out of landfills.

On this episode, Andy offers unconventional ideas about how to make a difference and how you can get a job working in sustainability. We also talk about how he ended up at Walmart, how he works with companies like REI and Patagonia (and how that work affects us as customers), and what we can do overall to take better care of our planet. 

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You care about our environment and want to help save the planet.
  • You love awesome gear.
  • You want to have a career that makes an impact on the world.
  • You are an entrepreneur and like carving your own path in life.
  • You want to ask the right questions.

Key Takeaways

  • 1:55 – What Yerdle does and what re-commerce means.
  • 3:00 – How Andy got into business and transitioned from Walmart to Yerdle.
  • 4:25 – How Andy’s aha moment involved toilet paper.
  • 6:00 – Why Andy is encouraging people to get more use out of the things we’ve already made.
  • 7:30 – How the position of Chief Sustainability Officer was created at Walmart.
  • 9:30 – Making the leap from Walmart to co-founding Yerdle with Adam Werbach.
  • 12:30 – Why we need to make a commitment to making change, even if it’s inconvenient.
  • 14:15 – What re-commerce looks like from a consumer standpoint.
  • 16:40 – How much re-commerce saves.
  • 18:25 – Who else is doing re-commerce well.
  • 19:15 – Andy’s message to other brands about how re-commerce works for business.
  • 20:45 – We need to change our mindset around “used” gear.
  • 26:15 – What Andy thinks the future of sustainability looks like.
  • 29:10 – How to educate yourself about sustainability.
  • 32:25 – What Andy does when he’s not saving the planet.
  • 33:50 – Where Any finds inspiration.
  • 35:50 – How he keeps from getting overwhelmed.
  • 39:25  – Andy’s message is all about getting more out of what we’ve already got.

Awesome book Andy recommends gifting

Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawkins
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

The Real Real
Eileen Fisher
The North Face 

Connect with Andy




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