By Thresher Editorial Board 10/19/21 10:24 PM
In the hedges of Rice University, it’s possible – and thanks to online shopping, sometimes easier – not to venture out and explore the city Rice calls home. However, viewing the campus as separate from Houston does not recognize the impact we have on the larger community of which we are a part. To sustain the relationship between us and Houston, the Rice community must make a cohesive and concerted effort to buy into and support local businesses.
Many local businesses are creating community spaces that we can be a part of, such as Houston area bookstores that host book readings and other literary events. They provide goods and services; we pay for them, contributing more directly to the local economy than ordering packages on Amazon ever would. Local shopping helps strengthen these links by engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship with local businesses.
Sometimes, as a small university, we seem to neglect our purchasing power. We are a primary market in the Rice area and have the ability to help grow a business. With Yoyo’s Hotdog, for example, Rice’s students are known to flock to her late-night lines. Soon they will be opening of a permanent location; the success of their booth is ultimately down to the efforts of its staff, but it’s reasonable to believe that the fanatical appreciation of Rice’s students was a contributing factor. How we spend our money is a direct and tangible way for us to choose who we want to support, and we need to focus our resources on our local community.
Beyond that, our purchasing choices have an impact on our environment, an impact that can be mitigated by avoiding fast fashion brand waste and shopping at local thrift stores. Buying locally produced food allows us to avoid buying goods that have been shipped from across the country, resulting in fuel emissions and greater use of packaging materials. Visiting mom-and-pop stores allows us to forgo overnight or two-day shipping, which leads to more carbon emissions than longer shipping times.
Finding the perfect alternative to Forever 21, getting acquainted with the local stores, and browsing the city of Houston can be intimidating – we don’t deny it. However, the best way to get to know Houston is to actively explore the city, aided by Rice’s free METRO card for all undergraduates. Additionally, with The Thresher regularly posting articles highlighting local businesses, from our comprehensive list of Rice recipes at the local bookstores, Coffees, thrift stores and more, there’s no reason our community shouldn’t know where to start exploring. Additionally, food journalists, for example, make careers reviewing and showcasing the best restaurants, cafes and bars in town, so engaging in their content gives the added benefit of supporting local journalism. Even for those who refuse to read articles, a quick Google search for “places near you” should yield plenty of results to sift through.
Aside from the sustainability and the ability to support businesses in the Houston area, shopping locally is, frankly, more fun. While it may be easier to place an Amazon order in the classroom, it’s far less memorable than shopping with a group of friends. With so many options at your fingertips, there’s no reason not to try and buy locally as much as possible.
Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are written collectively by the members of the Thresher Editorial Board. Current members include Savannah Kuchar, Ben Baker-Katz, Ivanka Perez, Nayeli Shad, Talha Arif, Morgan Gage and Daniel Schrager.