Consumerism Toxic Custard newsletter

The umbrella wrapper

This is near the entrance to one of the local supermarkets.

I understand what it is — it wraps your umbrella in plastic — I just don’t understand why such a thing is needed.

Umbrella wrapper

While it’s nice to see them catering for pedestrians (since I’d assume few people coming from a parked car would bother with an umbrella), I have yet to see anybody actually use it.

Seems to me if you arrive with a wet umbrella, shaking it out before you come in is a better way of dealing with it. The dispenser is only at one of the two entrances in any case.

In fact, in a place where plastic bags are plentiful, I would have thought anybody arriving with an umbrella that they felt was so wet they had to wrap it up, would have had plenty of options without a special dispenser having to be provided.

Maybe I’m missing something.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

14 replies on “The umbrella wrapper”

Nice to have – but I’m surprised that it’s a seen as that necessary.
Maybe if you were going to shop at Aldi and forgot your shopping bags, you could nick a few large umbrella bags to use instead?

I do prefer the ones that are dryers. I’ve used them a few times, and from the store’s perspective, they limit their liability caused by slip hazards. They’re all over Emporium, and I have seen it at the Apple Store in Adelaide.

I agree with Jon – it reduces the risk of slips etc due to the water – and mitigates the retailer’s liability (doesn’t make the liability go away, but reduces it).

Someone slips due to water on the floor, the retailer can lessen the impact by saying they had taken steps to reduce the water on the shop floor by using the umbrella bagger.

They are popping up all around the CBD – haven’t seen too many in the burbs but….

Guess this is a sign of our society becoming more “risk averse”. While retailers’ concerns about slippery floors have been around for a while, they wouldn’t have been too worried about wet umbrellas a generation or so ago. For that matter, we didn’t worry too much back then about doors that could be freely opened (and left open!) on trains, or trams that didn’t even have doors!
In short, our tolerance of “risk” has decreased. Perhaps this goes along with a more affluent society, which in the long run bears the costs through paying for umbrella wrappers, remote controlled doors on trains and public liability insurance.

Indeed, they’re basically in every shop/building in Japan, and everyone uses them (and it’s expected that you’ll use them). Apart from the massive amount of waste created (a major problem really), they’re a great idea. Beats having umbrellas dripping everywhere.

I hate these things. I’d hate them less if I thought they were full of biodegradable plastics, but I know they usually aren’t. Instead we’ve got a “solution” to a problem that has an incredibly short timeframe, which then creates a problem that cake take decades or centuries to truly be solved. The drying solution is much better, but even that must be incredibly energy inefficient. As Daniel says, shaking umbrellas isn’t a hard process.

As a retail worker, yep, these are to reduce the store’s liability due to slipping hazards caused by drips all over the floor. Particularly in stores that don’t normally have a mop nearby (department stores are one example that outsources their cleaning). The idea is also to prevent people taking plastic bags from checkouts as stores do actually run out of plastic bags! My store did the other weekend – people had to either carry their stuff out or use tiny white plastic bags, the type you’d put lemons in at the supermarket haha.

Umbrella wrappers seem to be a big thing in Asia but they only seem to have taken off here recently. I saw them everything in Hong Kong, with baskets for umbrella storage being a lower cost option at cheaper restaurants.

These are present in the foyer of my Melbourne CBD office building, and the welcoming security staff insist that they be used by anyone arriving with wet umbrellas on rainy days. It stops the umbrella runoff from making the foyer, lift and lobby areas wet and slippery, and is considered a proactive office safety measure. I’ve seen them in the foyers of several other corporate offices around town.

We’ve had them in Sydney since the late 90’s, so over 15 years – I’m surprised they’ve taken so long to get to Melbourne.

However, I completely agree with Julian. Never used one, never intend to.

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