The City Cart: The New Icon of the Environmental Movement

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

If you’re still using the term “granny cart,” I feel like I should tell you something. You’re really not hip anymore.

I know. I apologize for insulting you, but if you were in any way fashionable, you would know that these wire-framed wonders are now being called “city carts” and are no longer just for grannies.

Indeed, trend-setting city folk all of over the U.S. are turning these city carts into everyday companions and using them to carry groceries, to haul laundry, and, of course, to transport 24-packs of PBR back to their apartments.

Since fashion dictates action (at least sometimes), I want to thank hipster city-dwellers for making the city cart fashionable and allowing it to blossom into its new role as icon of the urban environmental movement.

This may be obvious to many, but here’s why the city cart can be an important part of living sustainably:

Reason #1 – City carts make it possible to go to the grocery store on foot. This means fewer people driving and could even mean fewer cars (I say this because trips to the grocery store are one of the only things that ever make me wish I had a car).

Reason #2 – City carts can help prevent food waste. If the city cart could help inspire the reestablishment of the local market as a viable way to shop for groceries, people could go to the store more often, making them less likely to waste food.

This is what happens in Berlin. There are grocery stores everywhere in the city, so people aren’t forced to make unreliable predictions about how much produce or milk or yogurt they will need over the next week or two. Instead they can make quick stops to the market to buy only what they need for making dinner that night.

Food waste may not sound like a big deal, but according to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills 2007. That’s more than 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills and creating methane gas as it decays–the same gas that’s helping to destroy our ozone layer and cause global warming.

Reason #3 – Less food waste means less packaging waste – 78.5 million tons of packaging were sent to landfills in 2007. Although I don’t have statistics, a fair percentage of this is likely from food packaging. If we can cut food waste, we can also cut packaging waste, including plastic waste.

So you see, city carts have the potential to help us reduce the number of cars on the road and cut the amount of food and packaging waste we send to landfills.

Or at least I think they do.

My new boyfriend, Mike, on the other hand, thinks that I’ve got a thin argument and that I am trying to make city carts cool because I just got one of my own.

He’s totally wrong—but if I ever hear someone referring to my city cart as a “granny cart,” I’m going to be really mad.

Image courtesy of nona*

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