For only the second time since moving into our new home in the middle of 2008, my wife and I went on Craigslist to search for household items. We talk about using the site, but in the end, we either buy a new product or forgo the item all together. The other night though, we purchased a pack and play (a sort of mobile crib) from someone off of Craigslist. The way I see it we both won. The seller got some extra cash for an item they no longer use and we save a bundle in comparison to buying the item at a retail store, an economic win-win. In addition, the pack and play stays out of the landfill and the raw materials needed to build a new one are conserved.
Last summer we bought a grill off Craigslist. Recently, the hose connecting the gas tank to the burners broke. Instead of throwing it away, a relatively inexpensive replacement from the hardware store allowed us to salvage the grill. Had the piece that broke off the grill not been made of plastic, but a more durable material, there may not have been a need for the replacement piece in the first place. Regardless, we’ve still spent less than half what the grill would have cost new.
These two events were not my first foray into the reused economy. About five years ago I tried using Freecycle as a way to reduce my consumption of new products and prevent other items from entering the waste stream. Unfortunately I never got into using it. In part it was laziness, but the user interface also left something to be desired. As the “stuff” piles up in our home, my wife and I try to salvage what we can and donate it to Goodwill. The tax write-off is an added bonus to providing goods that still have usefulness to someone else and diverting waste from the landfill.