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Shopping on Day 5

By rmyers
Saturday, December 16th, 2006 at 2:19 pm in Randy Myers.

The act of grocery shopping, and shopping in general, sans auto could drive even an environmentalist straight to the Hummer dealership. But with a little ingenuity and just over $40, you can make the “car-less” trek to the store less of an ordeal.

It won’t be a cinch, mind you, but if the weather’s behaving it can turn into a pleasant outing and an opportunity to get to know your neighborhood better.

But making it work largely depends on how close you live to a grocery store and public transportation. Suburbia seems to have been designed more for car traffic than foot traffic. Should you live close enough to a store, it is worth trying to shop at least once.

Crucial in getting sustenance to your home is buying a mini laundry/grocery cart with wheels. Two roomy backpacks are mandatory accessories. If you happen to be a Von Trapp-sized household, you’ll need to add more carts, along with extra patience.

I scored a push cart at Bolfing’s Elmwood Hardware in Berkeley. The store’s owner even offered, without any nudging, to assemble it. Anyone who has looked too closely at the wobbly IKEA bookcase I assembled over six grueling hours knows having him do it was wise.

It did feel a little odd pushing the cart on the street, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it later on. (Yes, I do plan to do it again.) I did take a couple of turns a little too wide, but there were no wrecks, no spills, no eggs broken.

Since the brisk but dry weather cooperated, I managed to polish off my Christmas shopping on a separate mission. Once again my trusty backpack served me well. In all, the shopping experience went smoothly, mostly because we live so close to two grocery stores.

Like much of the week, doing this task without a car turned out to be simpler than I imagined.

On that note, I’m signing off on this, my final entry, on the blog. I had great fun doing this Week Without a Car and hope you enjoyed it too.

‘ll be wrapping up my experiences and posting an article Thursday both online and in the paper. But before that, I’d love to hear from the brave souls who are going “car-less” or relying on bus/bike/BART to get them everywhere.

Just drop me a line at to tell me about your experiences or call me at 925-977-8419.

Happy trails!

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