Thursday, September 20, 2012

On no-touch soap dispensers

When the advert for Dettol's no-touch soap dispenser came out, I thought it was a joke. Part of the blurb says, "The Dettol No-Touch Hand Wash System eliminates the need to touch a soap pump ever again," because a soap pump harbours millions of germs on its button, or whatever-you-call-it. As many canny shoppers have already spotted, you'd wash all those germs off after you'd touched a soap pump anyway, so what's the point?

This product is symptomatic of the crazy consumer-led economic system, if you can call it that. Whenever politicians opine on the need for economic growth, they invariably refer to ways and means of boosting retail sales. We mustn't just buy what we actually need; we must go out and buy what we want, which might be the latest soap dispenser; a totally unnecessary bit of plastic kit that uses toxic batteries, which will soon end up in landfill, after wasting energy transporting it from A to B and so on. I believe you can also get toothpaste dispensers, for people who are too lazy to squeeze a tube, and no end of other personal hygiene and beauty products that simply complicate keeping clean and looking good.

All you need for hand-washing is soap, preferably without palm oil from an unsustainable source (the sort that's grown where forests used to be). As for those millions of germs; there might be some left, after you've washed your hands with soap, but as my mum used to say, a bit of healthy neglect never did anyone any harm. In other words, an obsession with cleanliness can lead to a loss of natural immunity to infection. Dirt is good, in moderation.

Click here to buy soap from the Orangutan Foundation, to help save the red apes.


Simon Booton-Mander said...

I am with you, what is the point of one touch dispensers? I am a bar of soap man myself, both at the sink and in the shower, I even shave with soap bars rather than dispensed cream.

Margaret Nelson said...

Thank you, and well done you.