Shopping Carts Are a Problem in Northern Virginia, and One Lawmaker Wants to Fix That

Feb 3, 2020

Lawmakers are taking action aimed at removing abandoned shopping carts from creeks in Northern Virginia. Although, it could end up allowing a local government near you to take action.

Pulling abandoned shopping carts out of a creek is not easy. They can lodge into the mud or create obstructions for the flow of water. All of that makes a giant mess.

Credit AP Photo / Steven Senne

Senator Scott Surovell of Fairfax County says he routinely helps local environmentalists pull Walmart shopping carts from Little Hunting Creek in his district. 

“The first time I went there we pulled 180 shopping carts out of the creek," Surovell says. "Not the woods — the creek — in the creek. And if anybody wants to know how to get a shopping cart out of the bed of a creek you let me know. I’m an expert at it now.”

That’s why he has a bill that would let local governments in Northern Virginia have Walmart and other big-box stores pay to remove all those shopping carts instead of relying on volunteers to do it for them.

Senator Bill DeSteph voted against the bill. 

“This is like me stealing the gentleman’s briefcase, dumping its contents all over Capitol ground and then him getting fined for the contents all over Capitol grounds," he explains. "I don’t think this is right.”

Now, Surovell’s bill was initially tied in the Senate with a 20 to 20 vote, and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax broke the tie and killed the effort by voting against Surovell’s bill. Then a few days later one of the no votes was not present, so Surovell brought the bill back on the floor and narrowly passed it with a 20 to 19 vote. Now it’s on its way across the hall to the House of Delegates.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.