Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why?


I came across this paper towel dispenser in the restroom of  a local church, and just had to snap a photo with my ever-present fuzzy-little-camera-phone.

The instructions say to push the button, then pull the lever twice. Following these directions dispenses a certain amount of paper towel. At this point, you cannot pull the lever any more (unless you push the button again). I suppose the objective is to limit the amount of paper any given person uses. But all one need do is push the button again and then dispense two more lever-pulls worth of paper. And push the button again... and again...

I suppose the idea is to prevent people from wasting paper, by forcing them to take an extra step and (hopefully) think about what they're doing. But I suspect the press-pull-pull-press-pull-pull process could be just as mindless as the pull-pull-pull-pull approach.

If we want people to not use too much paper, why not just put up a sticker saying "Please don't use too much paper?"

2 comments:

RhetTbull said...

If we want people to not use too much paper, why not just put up a sticker saying "Please don't use too much paper?"

For the same reason that signs saying "Please slow down" or "Children at play" are ineffective but speed bumps do get people to slow down, at least temporarily. The point of this dispenser is obviously to get people to use fewer towels by forcing them to slow down. And I'm certain it effectively decreases average towel usage. Yes, some, like you, will push, pull, pull over and over, but most won't be bothered to do it more than once or twice. Another variation on the them is the touchless infrared-activated paper towel dispenser that times out after dispensing so you can't wave your hand to get more paper. People employ these devices because asking people to be nice doesn't work.

It would certainly be great if we humans were selfless, kind, cooperative, and nice but in general, we're not. We need speed bumps to remind us that the world isn't revolving around us. Sometimes, simplicity and efficiency just won't cut it.

Kimmer said...

Well put, Rhet.