Shop for groceries -- and save the environment?

The two don't usually go together. But with the 30th annual Earth Day month long celebrations, Americans are finding a way to do both, with the help of the Shop & Carry food wagon.

It's a simple concept: take the traditional shopping cart, fix what's wrong, then go one better. The result is a modular wagon made of four containers that lock together. Take it to the supermarket, and it's put together almost instantly. Wheel it out of the supermarket, and everything's already in containers: no bags piling up. It can be wheeled in again back home, then taken apart for easy storage.

That makes the Shop & Carry a real boon to grocery shoppers. Calling it a Green product is no joke, though. If just 1% of America's food shoppers were to replace their paper shopping bags with the Shop & Carry, 56 million bags -- that's 72,000 trees -- would be saved every year.

And that's without counting the extras saved by skipping the whole energy cycle in the process, from the gasoline in the trucks that deliver the bags, to the fuel used to manufacture the bags, both paper and plastic, in the first place. Nor does it include the added convenience of taking empty deposit bottles back to the store in the Shop & Carry for recycling.

No more struggling with empty bottles in ill-fitting bags.

All that adds up to a shopping cart whose time has arrived. The typical grocery store models -- metal, squeaking, and hard to handle -- have been around for years, and no one's bothered improving on them. Now someone has. And grocery shoppers have noticed the difference: six out of ten have said it was time someone made things easier.

The cart may sound trivial to some. But think about it for a moment. No more wasted time looking for a metal wagon in a large parking lot without a wobbly wheel or waiting on a slower moving check-out line. No more metal wagons banging into cars. No more crushed food in those large metal carts.

An end to bags that rip or fall over in the car. And Shop & Carry makes for faster loading and unloading from your car. It's a small thing, perhaps, but it can make an immense difference -- by making grocery shopping faster, easier, and by doing something for our environment.

There are two ways to get and use one. The first is simply to buy it yourself: with a coupon from the Web site, it's just $98.00.

The other, is to buy one and use it at one of the grocery stores that will offer incentives for doing so. Food stores save big on operating expenses when shoppers use their own Shop & Carry food wagon. These customer loyalty buy-back programs and/or specials from food stores will eventually reimburse you for the cost of your wagon and then some.

For more information on the Shop & Carry, please visit the manufacturer's Web site at www.shopandcarry.com.