Limiting your environmental impact while still being frugal is becoming increasingly easy these days with technology. There are a lot of those great little energy savings inventions that fill a niche and do their part to reduce human impact on the planet.
But occasionally there are inventions that come along that harness great power to truly make a world-changing impact, while at the same time saving or making you significant money. And part of my Earth Day contribution this year will be to highlight a few of these inventions.
One of my favorite such inventions is Craigslist.
I love me some Craigslist. And I’ve written about it a lot here, as its been a huge contributor to my frugal lifestyle. And if you haven’t yet taken full advantage of its power, I’ll try to do some heavy convincing ahead…
Craigslist is a One Stop FREE Shop
You can find a job on Craigslist, an apartment to rent, a car to buy, a home, rideshare opportunities, volunteer experiences, free items, bartered services, or even a “casual encounter” if you’re lonely.
I’ve done all of the above (minus the encounter, I’m married people).
Outside of selling my car on Craigslist (a $12,000 transaction), I’ve been able to sell between $3-$5K of items on Craigslist.
The smaller ticket items that I didn’t sell on Craigslist were sold in a garage sale.
How did I advertise for the garage sale? Craigslist.
I almost sold my first house on Craigslist for sale by owner (FSBO), but it fell through at the appraisal stage (later, a good ole’ fashion flyer brought in the eventual buyer). Craigslist was driving 20+ visits a day to a website I had created to advertise the home. Had the house sold, my total Craigslist transactions would exceed $150K and I could attribute about $8K in realtor commission savings to Craigslist.
I’ve also been a bit creative with Craigslist.
I was able to get some free landscaping by having an ad respondent come and dig out a tree they were interested in. They got the tree, the tree’s life was saved, and I got free landscaping. Win, win, win.
But my favorite Craigslist story was the time that Craigslist saved me from homelessness as I jumped from sublet to sublet to sublet (saving $1,700) in the process.
Craigslist is always good for a few laughs and stories, if nothing else.
The Environmental Impact of Craigslist
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Craigslist (which will be its lasting legacy) is that you can find perfectly good (almost new) used things on Craigslist at a fraction of the price you would have to buy new.
Should you get tired of those things, you will likely be able to re-sell them on Craigslist for roughly the same (assuming it is still in good working condition) as what you bought it for. In the process, you’ve essentially borrowed the use of that item for almost nothing. Buy a dining set for $50, move 5 years later, and sell it for $50? That’s the circle of life.
If you fix something up you may even make money on the ownership. Why would you buy new?
In buying or selling used on Craigslist, you have:
- saved money (buyer)
- made money without incurring advertising costs (seller)
- given back to your local community
- kept money and the product local
- potentially made a new friend
- kept an item out of the landfill
- kept an item from being produced, and reduced your environmental impact in the process
- reduced shipping packaging and CO2 to move a new item from warehouse to your doorstep
- repeated the process so the next person can benefit
What more could you ask for than that?
As more and more folks use and have positive experiences with Craigslist, it will become even more useful. But even over the past 9 or so years I have been using it, I have been able to sell just about everything I’ve put up on Craigslist.
It is hard to measure the environmental impact of a business or website, but would any come close to matching the positive contributions Craigslist has made? Doubtful.
Thank you, Craigslist, for saving me money, and indirectly doing amazing things to help save the planet.
- What’s your favorite money and/or planet saving Craigslist story?
- What huge transactions have you made over Craigslist?
Craigslist is great
I’m the number one advocate amongst my friends and usually check there before heading to the store. It’s great especially for common household items, furniture, gardening/lawn care tools, and instruments.
I would caution the purchase of computers and expensive electronics..make sure you test everything. Also, make sure you go with friends. I had a friend who met up someone at a Walmart to buy an Xbox. When he got there a bunch of guys beat him up and stole his money. I’ve never had a bad experience in the hundreds of people I’ve purchased though.
If you’re savvy about a particular market and have some extra cash on hand, you can actually make money. One summer when I was back home from college my freshman year, I decided I wanted to learn drums. I bought a $90 crappy drum set, played on it, and sold it at the end of summer for $160. That day I realized something that would lead me to purchase 53 more drum sets and supplement an average of half my rent during my college years, not to mention the interest saved on loans I didn’t need to take out. I don’t do it anymore since I have a full time job but do have the benefit of playing on a nice drum set now.. =)
Well not in the planet because outside the US no one uses it so to us Europeans it means nothing
Don’t use it?? Is there a better alternative? Looks like Europe is fairly well represented: http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites
As for planet saving..I needed some new drum heads and found a studio drummer on CL who had to throw out his gently used heads for new ones each time he tracked a song to get the best sound from his drums. Those barely used heads were still fine for me to use since I don’t play professionally. Saved me money and kept it from the landfill.
You should ask if he can just save them for you and email when he has new ones to get rid of. Maybe a bulk deal or something.
I like Craigslist a lot but the sites make it WAY too easy for people to flag w/o care so that I can no longer post on CL.
I agree with the flagging issue. I stopped posting any items for sale because it seemed like I would constantly get flagged by people selling competing items or I got harassed by people through email, but I guess that is what you get when something is free. I do like to use the free section when I have things I planned to toss anyway and I can always find a willing person to come pick it up from my driveway. I occasionally buy things off there, but not too often. I like the “green” idea they just have to figure out how to handle the flaggers and fake posters. One particular time I was trying to sell a coffee table and I got flagged 4 times in two days and finally just gave up and had my husband cut of the table and stick it in the trash. So I can see the good and the bad.
I have never encountered the flagging issue. It sounds quite sad and frustrating. Is there any way to get your posting capabilities back in good status after repeatedly being flagged?
The only thing I can guess is that successful sellers must use one of those disposable email addresses to post to CL with. Maybe I should start doing that.
Not that I know of. The funny thing is it was usually for random items like furtniture I was posting when I was moving.
I use Craigslist for finding housemates, so far it’s brought me tens of thousands from that income stream.