#566: Fingerlick’n bad

My local supermarket encourages people to choose their own fruit etc and to put these items in plastic bags. Leaving aside the fact that the bags themselves are an environmental problem, I’m most concerned about the public health implications.

Irrespective of the exact details of the pack in which these bags are supplied (box or roll), they are always tightly sandwiched together and often mutually attracted by static charges: it’s a hard job just to separate them from each other (in the same way that it’s difficult to open one to insert eg fruit).

People invariably lick their thumb and forefinger before grabbing at a number of bags in order to peel off just one (I have seen customers actually blowing on the edge of the stack of bags). The result is that large numbers of bags are effectively licked before you put your hands and food in there…it’s not a reassuring thought.

Today’s invention is a plastic bag dispenser which helps to select a single bag, with minimal contamination. This consists of the usual flattish cardboard box filled with a multilayer sandwich of bags. Each box would be fitted with a plastic roller, the outer rubberised surface of which would be coated in something antibacterial like microban. The roller axle would be moored loosely in slots on each side of the exit end of the box. One face of the roller would be in contact with the bags, the other protruding through a window in the box top. Shoppers would press on the roller and rotate it away from the outlet slot, causing a single bag to be extracted from the box at a time (by friction between bag and rubber surface).

Once a bag protrudes from the box, it could be dragged out and torn off as usual. Fingers would thus be excluded from the stack of bags.

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