One day, a guy named Craig was sitting around, lamenting the fact that he could not find a pitbull, a babysitter, a used futon, and an erotic massage all in one place. And so, as neccessity is the mother of invention, Craigslist was born.
Need to rent a clearly illegal basement apartment in Dorchester? Done.
Used breast bump? Got it.
Awkward adult encounters? Yep, all set there, too.
It’s difficult for me to figure out if Craigslist is more awesome than it is creepy, or vis versa. Not even touching on the whole “Craigslist Killer” thing, it only takes a 5 minute scan through any of the discussion boards or personals posts to be thoroughly grossed out by your fellow humans. Even in the categories that seem tame, like boring old “Help Wanted”, you are bound to stumble across gems like “human sushi platter wanted for private party” and “part time housekeeper… must be willing to work in lingerie”
My personal favorite was an email I received through craigslist the last time I was looking for a roommate. A kind, classy gentleman, without ever having seen a single picture of me, offered me a room in his supposedly stunning penthouse condo in Beacon Hill, with my own bathroom, a parking spot, etc… for free, so long as I signed a contract that I would spend a certain amount of time walking around naked. Nothing like swapping your dignity and pride for a sweet pad, right? I wonder if he ever found a taker…
Anyway, my point is that Craigslist can be awesome, if you are careful. I am by no means a fearful person, but there are certain risks that you just don’t need to take. Whenever possible, especially if you’re buying something small, like tickets, always meet the person in a very public place. If possible, dont even get out of your car. When it comes to buying larger items such as furniture, always bring someone with you. This doesn’t need to look like you’re being paranoid, but that you just brought a friend to help.
I am guilty of breaking this rule recently, because after talking on the phone with the seller first, he was clearly very gay, and I didn’t feel even remotely unsafe meeting him outside of his apartment. That probably wasn’t the brightest move on my part, but I guess I’m just a sucker for very lispy gay guys with apartments full of Crate and Barrel.
For one of the aspects of my attempt to go greener, I wanted to avoid buying new things. For someone who loves shopping as much as I do, this isn’t easy. I also have pretty high standards when it comes to what I want our apartment to look like, and Michael and I don’t always agree on styles – which limits the number of acceptable furnishings. This means that yard-sale hopping would not be an efficient method of finding some of the things we needed (stools for the breakfast bar, a desk for me, and a bed frame).
After we’d looked around on websites and in stores, we’d agreed on a few specific items we wanted: West Elm breakfast bar stools, priced at $149 each (though they happened to be discontinued) and the Crate and Barrel Ladder Desk ($139).
Even though it took a few weeks of searching (just a couple of minutes when I checked my email each morning), the benefits turned out to be far greater than the minor inconvenience of not just driving to the store and making a purchase:
1. The eco friendly part – not major, but it all adds up – 1 less box full of plastic wrap, packing peanuts, and styrofoam, one less box, one less paper instruction manual, receipt, 1 less desk in demand, etc.
2. The money saving part – I paid 120 for BOTH stools (less than the cost of 1) and 60 for the desk (more than %50 less than retail). They’re both in good condition, but thanks to being pre-owned, I don’t need to worry about being responsible for the first scratch.
3. The satisfaction part – even though typing in the name of a product in the little search bar on craigslist every few days is FAR from challenging, somehow it is more satisfying to get what I want, at a great price, without stepping foot in a store. Plus, no assembly required as long as it fits in your car!
Overall, Craigslist makes the “Re-use” part of living green pretty effortless. Next time you see something you like at a major retailer, give yourself 2 weeks to find it on craigslist before you buy it new. My next goal is a platform bed from West Elm, but we’re waiting until we’re actually moved in for that, since I’ve already filled my parents basement up with my stuff.