Dreaming of a green Christmas

Shop local and resale

Tracy McDonald, a Chico State professor who has lived in Chico for 25 years, “revels in finding new uses for old things.”

Recently I felt a swell of community pride as I read about our new business network, Think Local, Chico! These business leaders inspire me; I have worked with many of them in promoting sustainable business. Shopping locally keeps our economy vibrant and often reduces the distance goods are transported. Shorter distances reduce carbon emissions.

But here I challenge you to approach shopping from a different stance: Buy at least some of your holiday gifts from our local thrift and resale shops.

Why shop at thrift stores? Well, reusing anything instead of buying a new version decreases the amount of garbage that ends up in our overflowing landfill. You also reduce your contribution to CO2 emissions since resale items are right here, not on a truck barreling down I-80 from Omaha. Thrift shopping adds to the revenues of social-service organizations and local businesses.

Where else can you walk in a store with $20 and leave with five overstuffed bags? If you have children you pass on the forgotten virtue of frugality. Thrift shopping is an art, counter to the more common art of spending to your credit-card limit.

At thrift shops, your kids see people from all walks of life. What an opportunity to learn about diversity and privilege.

I adore thrift shopping. This freaks out a lot of people. Reactions: Just who used to wear that sweater? I could never give someone something used. Oh, I just don’t have the patience for thrift shopping. And those people who shop at thrift stores… Anyway, buying new stuff is more fun. See you at the mall.

Shopping nirvana is the elation of finding a vintage coat of a quality no longer available and a style that would cost a fortune at a San Francisco boutique. Much of my furniture is from Salvation Army. About half of my clothes used to belong to someone I don’t know. You can find a distinctly unique gift for anyone on your list with a bit of exploration (and way fewer people than at the mall).

Our planet is in peril, and every new purchase leaves its carbon footprint. You may argue that how you spend your money is your business. True enough. But how much you contribute to the legacy we leave for future generations is all of our business, our collective responsibility.

Generosity to the Earth is generosity to those we love. And generosity to those we love brings joy, so we end up being generous to ourselves as well.

But let’s not forget that local businesses need support. A book from Lyon Books is passed on, a dinner at Red Tavern becomes a special memory, and the tree from Marc Kessler helps purify the air we all breathe.