If you’re like me, you took a while to decide on housing options for your next lease. Do I want to stay in New York with roommates? In this city even?
I decided to move to Philly into a one bedroom apartment in the midst of Old City. At first, I was so excited and grateful to finally have my own place. Shortly after, I start to realize some of the downfalls quicker than I’d say the upsides to living alone.
I find myself reaching for a spatula for every meal. Can’t find one. Dang, that was my roommate Maddy’s in our old apartment.
I’m really in the mood for some toast. Oh, the toaster was Maddy’s too.
Pots and pans? Forget about it.
I shortly realized that I needed a lot to survive on my own. I remembered that Maddy had brought a good amount moving into NYC but I never took inventory of how much of it I actually used for everyday tasks.
If you’re also like me, there are certain things you just won’t spend a lot of money on. I’ll spend money on a trip or for certain conveniences but a spatula? Why didn’t I want to spend money on this?
I decided to combine my monetary initiatives to save as well as my sustainability beliefs into one action plan – to get as many of these little items and appliances and furniture as I could from a used source. A used source in this example is primarily Craigslist but can also include obtaining things from family members, friends and well, garbage.
The result of this initiative? A massive $728 of savings and the satisfaction that I saved each of these items from going into a landfill.
There are three pillars in the sustainability triangle. You’ll notice that recycling is actually at the bottom. Of COURSE recycling is an amazing effort. My coworkers know that I dig through their office desk trash to find recyclables – but there is a reason it is at the bottom. When you recycle something, there is a small chance that it’s actually being recycled. That’s for a different blog post. In short, tons of energy is consumed, the carbon footprint expands as a truck has to come pick them up, take them to a plant, and so many resources are spent on recycling that product (or on the attempt).
Let’s take it a step above recycling. Reusing. Let’s say I’m done with my wooden chair. Throw it into the recycling section. It gets taken, driven hundreds of miles to a plant, is broken down. These materials are maybe not applicable for a new product so they end up throwing it away. Or, IKEA buys them and makes them into a new chair.
Well, what if that chair just went to someone who was looking for a new chair? 2 miles away? Energy is saved, miles are given back, carbon footprint becomes virtually invisible compared to recycling the item.
Ladies and Gentleman. I present to you Craigslist. A market place for us to reuse and be above the landfill and the recycling bin.
Whether or not you care about the sustainability triangle, you can also just save a lot of money by choosing Craigslist items compared to new. If you’re moving into a new place or with new roommates and are unsure of your inventory (but know you’ll need some things) reference these quick recommendations on making the most of it on Craigslist!
- As soon as you start doing the “Oh darn it” about items you don’t have any more because of a roommate change, write it down. I kept a note section on my phone and had a notepad handy around my kitchen.
- Download the Craigslist app and start looking on the website. Millennials who live in cities typically don’t have cars, so I like to immediately put in my zip code and a filter to not show me anything more than 2-3 miles away. If you have a car, I would of course extend this to how far you’re willing to drive.
- Take your list and post it on Facebook! There are more embarrassing things that people post than looking for items. Your long lost third cousin in the neighborhood over may be moving to China and needs to get rid of everything. For free.
- When you start to see things that you want on Craigslist, ask if they are moving. 9 times out of 10, they are. Ask if you can look at the rest of their stuff when you pick up your item. I went to someone’s apartment for glasses and came out with a free cutting board, plates and more.
- Most of these sellers are trying to get rid of their things before they move – and like the entire human population I would argue – we tend to do things last minute. The blender I got was up for $20 and although I felt ridiculous negotiating to not pay $20 for a blender, I went in at $10 and he said it was mine. Every dollar of saving counts for…beer? On a Europe trip?
- Don’t settle. For me, I wanted a big, sectional couch. Although I got it on Craigslist, I wish I waited a little bit longer or had been more selective. Know that it’s okay to go (as you would in a furniture) to first sit on the couch, see if it’s comfy, if it’s part of the look that you’re going for should you be aesthetically swayed by your decision.
- Look for boutiques that are refinishing companies. For example, my friend Tara started a company, Refined by Tara, where she takes furniture and makes it new. Although probably a little more expensive than Cragislist, this is a good option if you can’t find what you’re looking for on Craigslist.
- Finally, track how much you save! For each item that I found on Craigslist, I looked up the average value and analyzed the savings. Between 6 items obtained from Craigslist, I saved a total of $728 when comparing the Craigslist prices to average market prices.
If you’re interested, below are the fine details of my $728 in savings below (pictured!).
|Item||Average Market Price||Craigslist||Savings|
If you read this and you’re thinking, “I’m too lazy to look but want the savings,” I can help! Shoot me a message about what you’re looking to do. Happy hunting everyone – it can be so fulfilling when you find something you love.