Craigslist Do’s & Don’t’s

J. Shore
4 min readNov 9, 2020

So you’ve got your heart set on a fun DIY project that perhaps needs a used bike, or maybe you want to start learning guitar but don’t want to drop a few hundred bucks on an experiment? Craigslist is your place to go. Not only are the prices as cheap as can be, but shopping second-hand and local can offset the carbon impact of consumerism.

Image from: https://senior-resources.org/senior-thrift-good-for-environment/

As you can see in the infographic above, shopping second-hand has a significant positive impact on the environment.

In order to shop safer for our planet, there are a few tips and tricks to make sure you are getting a fair deal.

1: Do some research!

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Check out listings for the product you are looking to buy on sites like Amazon, Ebay, and other sellers to see the going rate for a new product. Items on Craigslist should be at least 25% cheaper than a brand new item, and if they aren’t it should be for a good reason such as: the item has never been opened, the item has only been used once, or other reasons that put it in the “Like New” category. If you find something that is marked down significantly, like for example, 80%, make sure you have a series of questions ready to ask the seller about the condition of the item.

2: Know the right questions to ask.

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Always start with the question, “Why are you selling this?”.

If they can’t give you a straight answer, its because they know the reason and are trying to hide it from you. Move on. Save your hard earned money.

If you are buying an item such as a smartphone, car, or other easily theft-able item, always ask for a proof of purchase. The last thing you want happening to you is that you get sold a stolen item. It could lead to your purchase getting confiscated by law enforcement, and you not getting your money back.

Don’t let this dissuade you from purchasing second hand though! If you for some reason do get duped and unknowingly buy stolen goods, you will not get in trouble. As long as you did not know it was stolen, you will simply have to surrender the item, no sweat, no criminal record!

Because of this, it is always important you get the seller’s information, and proof of legal purchase.

3: Time to meet up and exchange!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The most important part of this guide is as follows:

ALWAYS tell people both where you are going, and at what time, before you meet up with a random person.

Also, make sure you meet up in a public space, like a parking lot in front of a well-trafficked grocery store (which has the bonus of security cameras, just in case). Bring a friend, and don’t ‘flash your cash’ until the terms of the sale are verbally agreed upon, and the item you are buying is duly inspected.

You will notice I titled this section “exchange” instead of “pay”. That is because you can also make trades through Craigslist. Be wary though, as there is always someone winning and someone losing in a trade, value-wise. Nine times out of ten, you will be better off selling your item for cash, and using that cash to buy the item you want instead of a trade. If you want to avoid the hassle of that though, time is money, so a trade might be appealing to you.

Never, ever agree to a wire transfer ahead of a meetup. I know a family down the road from me who did that on a $4,000 car and lost every penny when it never showed up, and the seller vanished off of the face of the earth. Always use traceable means. Always request documentation on large purchases. Always be safe!

4: Smile, and celebrate your lasting impact on the world!

Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash

As stated above, buying second-hand reduces the the carbon impact of an item by up to 86%! Engaging in person-to-person transactions, when safely and intelligently approached, can both save you a lot of money, and help make the world a better, more sustainable, and friendlier place.

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J. Shore

J. Shore is a fierce environmentalist who has a passion for sharing meaningful stories, firsthand experiences, and guides to make the planet a kinder place.