Toilet paper shortages and limits on consumer consumption


GoToVan (Flickr)

Toilrt tissue has become an unusually sought after item during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

A toilet paper shortage is an unexpected side effect to “stocking up” while preparing for isolation due to the coronavirus.

More products like flushable wipes are in shortage distribution because toilet paper started being “sold out” and that raised concerns for Phoenix wastewater experts since wet wipes could clog pipes.

“Flushable wipes just don’t degrade the way that toilet paper does and neither do paper towels.” Nazario Prieto, the Assistant Water Services Director, said.

BBC News covered on “Why are people stockpiling toilet paper?” where Sydney, the largest city in Australia, experienced supermarket shelves cleared in minutes, forcing some stores to limit customers to only 4 packs of toilet paper per person.

This began when cases of COVID-19 started emerging in Australia and of course, this is not a unique situation to Australia— similar situations are happening around the world.

Australia’s chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy told parliament this week: “We are trying to reassure people that removing all of the lavatory paper from the shelves of supermarkets probably isn’t a proportionate or sensible thing to do at this time.”

Trending hashtags on Twitter #toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis and posts of customers showed how the panic spread through social media.

Associate Professor Nitika Garg from the University of New South Wales stated that the local buy-up is driven by fear.

“They think if this person is buying it if my neighbor is buying there’s got to be a reason and I need to get in too,” she told the BBC.

According to the origin of FOMO, or “fear of missing out” is a phenomenon that happens to any age group at different times in their lives but is strongly correlated with the increased usage of social media, research suggests.