Shopping cart

What we do with it says a lot about us

Do you mind if I ask you a personal question about your cart?

Are you a ghost? Are you a never-come-back? Or are you a convenient ghost?

I want you to think carefully about your answer and be honest. What you say can say more about you than you think.

It looks like basic courtesy to others. You get a cart, use it to get groceries, take it to your vehicle, then put your cart back in the right place for others to use. And yet, it is not uncommon for many people to completely ignore the cart receptacle and leave their cart next to their car or parked haphazardly on medians. I’m not naming names, but you know who you are. Why?

According to shopping cart theory, if you return your shopping cart at the market entrance or designated shopping cart collection area after shopping, you are a good person. After all, accomplishing this task requires little effort and benefits others. When you safely store or return a cart, it won’t take up parking spaces, pose a hazard to shoppers entering the parking lot, or crash into cars.

According to Scientific American magazine, there are many reasons (I’m less of a scientist, so I’ll just call them excuses) why people don’t return their carts, including the weather may be bad or the cart pick-up area may being too far from their car.


Many parents say they don’t want to leave kids unattended in the car just to bring back a cart, and some shoppers point out that they have disabilities or mobility issues that make it harder for them to return the cart. First, your child will be fine for 30 seconds – don’t leave the car running – or take the child with you on the trip home. And for people with disabilities, please have someone bring your cart to a collection area.

I like people who consider leaving their carts behind as a kind gesture. They say this will provide job security for carters employed in the store, or even potentially lead to the creation of more jobs (the idea being that if a supermarket or store has unattended carts all over its parking lots, they will have to hire more workers to solve the problem). It is very magnanimous. Like deliberately throwing your trash everywhere so more people are hired to clean it up. But in the meantime, there are trash cans and shopping carts everywhere. What, you don’t believe me?

In 2008, Science magazine published a study called “The Spread of Disorder” which tested the thesis that signs of disorder trigger more disorder. The researchers drove to a parking lot that served as a supermarket and a gym. In one scenario, four carts were scattered around the garage, and in another, all the carts were in the bins. Researchers left flyers on car windows in the garage and — you guessed it — 58% of participants threw their flyers on the floor when there were carts everywhere, compared to 30% when all the carts were in. collectible media.

The world probably won’t end because we don’t return our baskets. But it is an example of a quality of life problem that we can control. That guy who didn’t return his cart might not be a complete jerk. He may just be using the example set by others so he can get home a little faster. But if everyone does that, then we shift the balance of what’s acceptable, which can have bigger ramifications on the social order. We have greater influence over seemingly mundane situations than we realize.

The main point is that we all need to look around and think not only about ourselves and our comforts, but those of others as well.

And if that doesn’t work, think about how it would feel if a cart hit your vehicle, creating a dent and leaving a long scratch on the side. Think of the hundreds that will cost you. Just because someone didn’t care, had kids with them, or thought it was too hard to give them back.

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