A new soil marketplace

My friend Dan Olshansky recently launched a new company It’s an online marketplace for soil. If you have soil you’re looking to get rid of, or are looking to purchase soil, you can use to find a buyer or seller for your soil.

Since he’s launching a new marketplace, it needs buyers and sellers on the site for it to be useful. The more people buying and selling soil, the more useful his site becomes, and in turn more people will join to buy and sell their soil – a virtuous cycle, if he can get the word out.

So, part of why I’m writing this snippet is to help him get the word out. The website is (as I’ve now stated repeatedly) and if you have soil to buy or sell, I encourage you to give it a try. Posting a listing is free.

Why use GetSoils over, say, CraigsList? From what I understand, there are a few reasons: (1) GetSoils is a marketplace specifically for soil, so hopefully it’s easier to find a buyer or seller there than on a generic site like CraigsList. (2) GetSoils does analysis to reduce soil travel and maximize soil reuse – thereby benefiting the environment and keeping costs low. (3) GetSoils has expertise in soil, and helps you ensure compliance with government regulations pertaining to soil, and makes filing the necessary reports easy.

Alright, with the advertising portion of the snippet complete, I’ll now take a few minutes to try and understand the soil market a little bit better.

The website supports buying and selling the following soil types: Sand and Gravel, Sands, Silty Sand to Sandy Silt, Clayey Silt to Silty Clay (Glacial Till), Silty Clay, and Topsoil.

Sand, silt, and clay describe the size of soil particles. Sand is the largest, clay is the smallest, and silt lies in between. Gravel soil has even larger particles than sand, containing many small stones.

The price of sand and gravel has risen steadily over the last ten years, from $7.30 USD per metric ton in 2010 to $9.60 per metric ton in 2020. In the spirit of using sensible units, let’s put this figure into something more tangible than dollars per metric ton for someone like myself who isn’t in construction.

How about a single liter of soil? There are 625 liters in a metric ton of sand, so a single liter of soil is going to cost (at wholesale prices) 1.5 cents. You might say it’s… dirt cheap. 🥁 (If you actually want to buy such a small volume of soil, you’ll probably end up buying 8 liters or so for $5, or 40 lbs for $2.27, a significant markup on the 12 to 20 cents it costs at wholesale prices.)

Dirt may be cheap, but it’s bought and sold in huge volume. The smallest soil volume supported on GetSoils is 100 m³. The largest is 200 times that. US consumption of sand and gravel in 2020 reached 68 million metric tons. That’s about 17 kilograms of soil consumed per person in the US per month. Did you consume 40 pounds of soil last month?

The GetSoils website also allows you to list your bedrock: Weathered Grey Shale (Georgian Bay Formation), Competent Grey Shale (Georgian Bay Formation) Weathered Red Shale (Queenston Formation), Competent Red Shale (Queenston Formation), or Other, as well as any previously placed manufactured materials: Recycled Granulars, Recycled Concrete, Recycled Asphalt, Other.

Since bedrock can be listed both by buyers and sellers, I think this is for the purpose of buying and selling bedrock. However, it may also be there for logistics and reporting purposes; I’m not certain. Weathered vs competent refers to the weathering on the bedrock, with weathered bedrock beginning to turn into soil, and competent bedrock remaining structurally intact.

Georgian Bay Formation refers to a particular geoligical formation in Michigan, while Queenston Formation refers to one in Quebec.

From this, I gather that Quebec and Michigan are target markets for the website. The website also lists the five boroughs of New York, so those must be target markets too.

From the listing website, it looks like buying soil is intended for construction projects. Is it also appropriate for small volumes of soil, say for starting a vegetable garden or growing potted plants? The homepage suggests that it is, and the target market includes home owners, builders and developers, haulers and excavators, and other land owners.

So – back to marketing briefly to wrap up – if you’re a home owner, builder, developer, hauler, excavator, or land owner, give a try today! Help Dan Olshansky start the virtuous cycle of bootstrapping a new soil marketplace. (Help his company take root. 😩) And finally, best of luck to Olshansky and the team in growing their new company! (That they’ve recently unearthed… Okay, I’ll just click publish now. 👋)