So many of my readers have contacted me worried about the shortages in the stores due to the novel coronavirus fears. Why is everyone out of toilet paper? The phenomenon of the disappearing toilet paper supplies was noticeable earlier this week and the trend has continued to the point where people in many places can’t find toilet paper anywhere. Some people waited until they were almost out, used to being able to run out and buy a few rolls any time only to find store shelves completely emptied.
So, Why IS Everyone Out of Toilet Paper Anyway?
The simple answer is that people are in panic mode. They’re scared they’ll have to hole up in the house for weeks and not be able to go out. The more complex answer is that as people noticed paper goods shelves empty in some stores, they started to get worried and also began buying up toilet paper and other supplies, thus making the shortage worse.
I’ll admit I felt a bit of panic when I had to go to four different stores to find a few rolls the other day and I’m usually pretty realistic about things. The media ramps things up. They do this with everything from pending storms to possible riots to what color the sky is. Most of the time, we ignore their dramatics and take it in stride, but when what they are saying seems to be true, then we panic.
Why Is Everyone Buying Toilet Paper in Bulk?
We also live in a global society now and many of us have seen the videos out of Wuhan, China, where ordinary citizens share how the store shelves are emptied and they are on complete lock down. It’s frightening and we worry the same thing could happen here.
I’m not judging any of you hoarding paper products, but I do think there are more important things you’d need to survive for weeks at a time, such as food. Psychologists say the reasons why everyone is buying toilet paper in bulk is because the packages are something large they can buy and it provides some level of comfort and safety.
Why Is There No Toilet Paper at Walmart, Sam’s Club, or Meijer?
Stores in southern Indiana sent some of their inventory to Tennessee after the deadly tornadoes struck. Things such as disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and soap went out the door in a relief effort. And then, the panic buying hit and the stores didn’t have enough inventory to even begin to keep up. I had a worker at Dollar Tree tell me someone had just come up and bought a bunch of supplies for the tornado victims right before people started buying.
The less the items are available, the more panicked people get and the cycle goes faster and faster. Last week, they were out of hand sanitizer everywhere and I thought to myself I better buy some baby formula. Today, they were almost out of baby formula at the store. They are also out of diapers at Sam’s Club, which is going to be a problem for us in about a week or so.
What Can You Do If You Run Out of Toilet Paper?
I will admit that I almost fell into the panic myself. When you see an item you use every day flying off store shelves and you can’t find any, you feel frazzled. I’m fifty, and I’ve never seen things like this. Not ONE time! I went looking for some for my daughter yesterday, because she couldn’t find any around her. When I located a store with stock, I almost thought about filling my car up with toilet paper.
Then, I realized that is exactly the type of irrational thinking that is causing this problem and I took two packs and left some for other people. I also stopped and thought about what I’d do if I ran out of toilet paper. Here is my Plan B for no toilet paper:
1. Use Other Paper Goods
I have two boxes of tissues on hand and I have a few rolls of paper towels, which I am now using very sparingly. I also have some napkins leftover from a baby shower that would work in a pinch. It might not be my soft, wonderful Charmin, but it’s better than nothing.
2. Use Wipes
If you have baby wipes or bathroom wipes, you can use those. Please don’t flush them as they clog drains and septic systems. Just throw them out instead. As of today, I still saw some baby wipes in stores, but that might change rapidly.
3. Cut Up Rags
If this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic goes on longer than expected, I thought about what I would do if all the paper goods and wipes were gone. I realized there were options. People didn’t used to have toilet paper. They used newspapers, magazines. I thought to myself I could cut up old rags and keep a bucket of bleach water to soak them in, launder them and reuse.
Gross? Yes, totally. But it isn’t the worst thing that could happen to someone and it is survivable. The question is if you want to survive in a world without toilet paper. ha ha
4. Work Together
Work with friends and family to help each other get what you need. I grabbed a container of disinfectant wipes today for a friend who works with the public and wants to keep things wiped down. She couldn’t find them anywhere. I would have loved to grab her more, but there was one left on the shelf. ONE. I also found tp for my daughter.
I have trusted friends and family I know will keep an eye out for me as well. We all need to work together through this. If you have an elderly or immune compromised neighbor, make sure you help them get what they need to get through this.
This Too Shall Pass
No matter why everyone is out of toilet paper, when you realize things aren’t available, it’s easy to panic. The stores will eventually restock and life will go back to normal. This isn’t the first or last virus we’ll deal with. Don’t panic, take smart advice from experts such as washing your hands.
I do find that thinking through what you’ll do if the “worst” happens helps remove some of the worry. We talked about what we’d do if we ran out of food. I told my hubby we’ll have to learn which mushrooms are poisonous and which we can eat and mentioned a man in our church who could teach us. Once you have a plan in place for what to do when you can’t find toilet paper, you won’t worry as much about not finding it. Chances are things won’t get or stay that bad, but if they do, you’ll be calm enough to know what to do.