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Time to Take Back That Shopping Cart

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Did you know that February is Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month?

It's not exactly a holiday, but it is a month-long campaign to get the carts off our sidewalks and apartment buildings and back to the stores to which they belong.

For some reason, the wikiHow (a how-to wiki resource) provides instructions on how to observe the festivities ("1. Return your cart to a designated 'cart rack' or aisle. These can be found in various places throughout the parking lot or nearby the store's entrance." Thanks, wikiHow, I was confused.) but really it's just a matter of courtesy and common sense. Although some shopping areas have magnetized systems that stop the carts from being taken past a perimeter, most stores still see dozens of carts (at an average cost of $100 apiece, no less) go astray.

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There are some companies whose sole purpose is to pick up carts and return them to the stores, many of the businesses contracted to the supermarkets. "Los Angeles stores lose tens of thousands of carts each month. According to an article in the Los Angeles Business Journal, "the city of Long Beach has one of the worst problems; California Shopping Cart Retrieval picks up 500 carts per week there."

So if you're tempted to use the cart to "walk" your groceries home, resist the urge. Get some great reusable and durable bags to help make the trek. And take that extra moment to walk the cart back to its holding pen in the parking lot instead of just shoving it into an empty parking space or against a nearby car. The less money the supermarkets and stores have to spend on carts, the less they'll have to raise prices to cover their costs.

Photo by batintherain via Flickr