It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention ‑ and busy mother Erica Bush of Plano is hoping her invention may soon be seen as a necessity in households across the country.
As a working wife and mother of four, Bush was always looking for ways to make her life a little easier – and a little greener, too. After coming up with an idea that will accomplish both of those goals, the entrepreneurial mom recently entered her creation, the Double Stax, in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition.
The contest invited inventors to pitch their products online - and members of the public will vote to determine the winners. Ultimately, the top three products will win the opportunity to be sold on Walmart.com and even “Get on the Shelf” in select Walmart stores across the country.
Bush describes her creation, the Double Stax, as “a two-tote-bag system that has a rigid, self-supporting structure that stacks to help you carry more (up to 12 reusable bags worth of food), keeps your groceries in place when in transit, and reduces the number of trips you make when bringing in your groceries.
When you’re not using the Double Stax, she said, “it collapses and flattens for neat and easy storage.”
A graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) with a degree in Information Technology and Management (ITM), Bush works as an IT project manager for a bank in downtown Chicago.
But working full time, managing a busy household and keeping up with her four kids doesn’t leave much time for chores like grocery shopping.
“I have a busy schedule, so I only shop a few times a month,” Bush said.
Although she is often pressed for time, Bush was determined not to value efficiency over environmentalism. Why not have both?
“At the end of 2009 … I was thinking about my resolutions for the new year,” Bush said. “I wanted to do a better job of taking care of the Earth - and after a little research, I learned by giving up the single-use plastic shopping bags, I could make an immediate and considerable impact to the Earth.”
Unfortunately, she soon found that foregoing plastic grocery bags for the reusable ones was easier said than done.
“When I did stock up, I needed around 15 reusable bags (if I remembered to bring them) to carry most of my things,” Bush said. “And when I ran out of room, I just put (my purchases) in the trunk of my car, where they rolled around, got crushed, or fell out and shattered before I got home.”
But rather than giving up on reusable bags, Bush began looking for an alternative that would meet her needs.
“I searched the Internet and even posted questions on blogs about what other people did - and I learned there really weren't any options out there for people like me who have large families, like to shop in bulk, want to save a little time unloading, and be green,” Bush said.
“I started drawing ideas and came up with the Double Stax. It took about a year to get the design just right and then I had a prototype made to see if it would work.”
Bush said the prototype worked so well that the Double Stax will be going into production in the next month or two. She thinks the world’s largest retailer would be perfect for marketing her new product – and hopes voters in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest will agree.
“I am a frequent Walmart shopper, and I know it is the ideal place to sell the Double Stax,” Bush said.
“I want to get a Double Stax in the hands of every Walmart shopper, because if (they) all go green, it will create a global phenomenon, and the rest of the industry will take notice,” she said. “We'll have fewer single-use plastic bags being used, which will be great for the planet.”
Bush is hoping Patch readers will vote for her Double Stax to “Get on the Shelf” at Walmart by texting 4833 to 383838 once a day until the voting period ends on April 3, and/or by visiting www.getontheshelf.com/product/4833/Double-Stax and voting via FaceBook by clicking on the button to the right of Bush’s video.