What’s Done Right

Every so often Russ and I come across something here in Germany that makes so much sense that we wish it was also done in the U.S.  This type of blog will become a series, as Lauren already has a list of many things that she’d like to see done differently. 

For our first entry we’d like to talk about shopping carts.  Yep, shopping carts.  Admittedly, it’s not like shopping carts are a huge problem in the States, but that’s not what this blog series is always going to be about.  This time we’re introducing you to a minor convienence that makes life easier. 

Drive into the parking lot of your local Wegman’s, Giant, or Wal-Mart, and other than bad drivers and McDonald’s wrappers, what do you see?  Shopping carts, everywhere!  Though the stores kindly provide us with areas of return so that we don’t have to walk them back into the store (God forbid), people take it upon themselves to leave carts everywhere.  They block open parking spots and are a frequent worry for Russ causing us to always have to park at the furthest point away from the store (read headline in local paper: Runaway Shopping Cart Dents Volkwagen R32 Passenger Door, Owner Becomes Rabid).

In Germany and in other European countries (Russ says he remembers this from visits to Italy), shopping carts require a deposit of money.  The carts are all locked together, like so…

In order to unlock a shopping card, a shopper must insert one Euro into the appropriate slot. 

The Euro pushes free the lock mechanism from the other side of the cart, and just like that, you have a cart! 

The beauty really comes in the incentive to return the cart to the appropriate place.  Shoppers can, of course, still leave their carts sitting wheverever, but they lose a Euro.  In order to get the Euro back, one must return the cart to an area with other carts.  The mechanism that popped out before to allow you to take the cart is now inserted into the same end.  Insert the lock, out pops your Euro!

It’s such an easy and smart system that would inevitably allow Lauren to park on this side of the universe the next time she goes grocery shopping with Russ.

We do understand that this could prove to be a difficult system in the U.S.; we don’t have coins (or rarely use coins) that represent a high enough monetary value to be an incentive to get money back for some people.  Also, it’s only a matter of time before some fanatics would start calling it an unjustice of human rights according to the Constitution.  Still, we love it, and wish it was something we could adopt at home!

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Irene on July 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I love it too! Maybe I’ll send a suggestion to Wegmans…


  2. Posted by Moo on July 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Aldi’s has this system, but it’s only a quarter, so there’s not as much of an incentive to put the cart back. Wegmans does a pretty good job of making the cart returns numerous and convenient, except at Ridgemont! But they’re also good about sending the little guy out to collect the strays (I think he’s been there as long as I’ve been shopping at Ridgemont).


  3. Posted by DadL on July 13, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Yes, this European system for the carts is very good. If we could get people to start using dollar coins (the gold ones) that could be enough of an incentive to make it work here. I agree there will be protests…

    Good topic idea! I am quite confident you will find many instances of “What’s Done Right” Thanks!


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