Please, for crying out loud don't buy all the toilet paper
Last updated 3/26/2020 at 11:45am
Stop buying all the toilet paper. Seriously, knock it off. It’s not necessary.
Across the state—in large and rural communities alike—grocery stores’ entire toilet paper aisles are empty. Not a single four-roll package remains for people who need it. So who has it? People who likely already had enough.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a toilet paper shortage. According to the Washington Department of Health, there’s nothing causing additional use of toilet paper and producers say there has been no cut in toilet paper production.
Consumer overstocking is to blame.
“We want the public to be assured that if they will return to their normal pace of grocery shopping that there will be an adequate supply of products for their consumption,” said Jan Gee, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry.
“The current issue is actually not related to utilization at all, as that hasn’t changed or increased,” said Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain Management. “There are no more mouths to feed or bottoms to wipe than there were last month. This is more a reflection of irrational buying and consumer panic.”
As a reporter, I know that every day the news about COVID-19 seems to be getting worse. Just as we adjust to one order from Gov. Inslee, it seems like he’s back on TV issuing a new one. So the urge may be to jump the gun and buy everything up. But this buying of all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant didn’t start with the latest business closures; it started weeks ago when not one business had been asked to close by the state.
There is also no indication that grocery stores will close. They are recognized as crucial businesses. Last week, California became the first state to issue state-wide stay-at-home orders. Even in this case, grocery stores remain open and people are still allowed to shop.
Finally grocery stores are starting to combat hoarding. Product limits have been instilled in many stores. But hoarders are getting around this by making multiple trips through multiple checkout lines.
It has to stop. Everyone needs these products. And in the case of products like hand sanitizer, it is in everyone’s best interest for others to have the product too. Hand sanitizer is as much about protecting others than it is about protecting the person wearing it. It kills the germs on your own hands so other people don’t get sick from things you touch. So for people who are really worried about getting sick, it is in their best interest for others to have access to sanitizer.
When I saw stories of empty toilet paper aisles on Facebook, I said to myself, “That is in big cities. That isn’t going to happen here.” I was wrong. This week, I visited the stores in Ritzville and Davenport and they all were out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
So please, let’s allow crucial stores to provide these crucial products for everyone. Buy what you need, don’t deprive your own family. But don’t deprive your neighbor’s family either. Virus or no virus, sick or healthy, everyone needs toilet paper.
Jeremy Burnham is the interim editor of The Davenport Times.