In 2016, a group of volunteers gathered to install 180 solar panels on the roof of Gift & Thrift, an MCC Thrift shop in Harrisonburg, VA. Their goal was to install over 300 panels in three stages in two years, hopefully reducing conventional electricity use by 30 to 40 percent.
Gift & Thrift is part of a network of more than 40 MCC Thrift shops located across the U.S. The MCC Thrift network provides financial support for the relief, development and peacebuilding work of MCC around the world. Gift & Thrift is located at 731 Mt Clinton Pike in Harrisonburg.
Gift & Thrift’s solar panel venture was sparked by a donation of $5,000 in 2015 by local Voluntary Gas Tax members, a group who donated a self-imposed 50 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax. Their donation enabled planning to begin in the fall of 2015.
Photo courtesy of Sam Stoner
Today, the goal of installing over 300 panels has been met and the benefits of the solar panels are evident. In 2021, about 141 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity were produced by the panels. The impact is the environmental equivalent of approximately 82 barrels of oil saved, 102 tons of CO2 removed and about 95 trees planted.
Gift & Thrift's solar panels produced about 141 megawatt hours in 2021 - the environmental equivalent of 82 barrels of oil saved, 102 tons of CO2 removed and about 95 trees planted.
The panels were projected to save about $14,000 in electricity costs. In 2021, about $14,300 was saved in electricity costs at Gift and Thrift.
"The solar panels have positively affected [our] giving to MCC through cost saving. Any savings results in greater giving."
- Susan Nelson, general manager of Gift & Thrift
Energy savings from the shop’s solar panels have turned into greater support of MCC. In 2021, Gift & Thrift donated over $300,000 to support the mission of MCC, and the solar panels played an important role. Susan Nelson, General Manager of Gift & Thrift, said, “The solar panels have positively affected [our] giving to MCC through cost saving. Any savings results in greater giving.”
In addition to the solar panels, Gift & Thrift in Harrisonburg is committed to creation care as they continue giving new life to gently used items. While the shop does not resell every donation, staff and volunteers look over items closely to determine value before putting them in the trash. Lightly soiled donated items are washed and then put out on the shelves and racks. Conscious effort is made to save items from the landfill and make them available to people who can give them a new life.
This year, MCC is celebrating 50 years of thrifting with the anniversary of the opening of the first MCC Thrift shop in 1972.
To encourage people to develop eco-friendly practices and to celebrate this anniversary milestone, MCC Thrift launched its “Thrifty 50 Challenge” in March 2022. Participants will receive a weekly sustainability challenge in their inbox every week for 50 weeks, plus a chance to win weekly MCC Thrift gift cards. For more information about this challenge and to sign up, go to thrifty50challenge.org.