Monday, March 23, 2020

Toilet paper gives strength to face crisis


     As the COVID-19 global pandemic unfolds, and the confusing whir of current events slowly gives way to the certainties of history, one question will echo down the years, fascinating scholars yet unborn:
     What was the deal with toilet paper?
     With a deadly plague spreading everywhere, consumers stripped stores, not of batteries or booze, coffee or toothpaste.
     But toilet paper. In enormous, cart-filling mega-packs.
     And not just in the United States. Australian media described a toilet paper “frenzy” where shoppers pulled knives on each other. In Hong Kong, armed robbers stole pallets of TP. Shelves were stripped in Singapore and Taiwan.
     Journalists quizzed those buying the paper for their perspective.
     “If everyone’s doing it, I’m doing it, too,” one Sydney shopper reasoned.
     The world seemed divided into people either loading up on what was called “therapeutic paper” when it was first patented in 1857, or condemning those who did so for panicking.
     It struck me there had to be a third path to understanding. There had to be someone wise. Someone oracular. Someone who knows toilet paper.
     “It has been a crazy couple of weeks as related to toilet paper purchasing,” said Kim Sackey. She is consumer knowledge leader at Georgia-Pacific and was speaking from the global headquarters in Atlanta of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of what the company demurely calls “bath tissue.”

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19 comments:

  1. The Niles Costco had plenty on Sunday night, limit one. If everyone had limited a week ago, there might not have been a shortage.
    But Costco, Jewel & other stores have banned returns of toilet paper, paper towels & bottled water.
    No one can figure out the obsession with the paper towels or the water, as almost everyone around Chicago has excellent tap water!

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  2. Okay, she says average consumer goes through 100 rolls a year. A childless couple would thus be "consuming" just under four rolls a week. But the U.S. Census claims an average household is 2.6 people and uses 409 regular rolls a year. So a two-person household would therefore use 315 rolls a year, or just over six a week. I did the math.

    Four a week? Even that number seems high. You'd be restocking the holder every other day. And six? Almost a fresh roll amost daily? That amount wipes me out! No wonder people are going nuts and emptying the shelves and hoarding the stuff!

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  3. If you scroll down a bit you will see a woman who bought out a dollar store out of toilet paper. https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/shocking-video-captures-trump-supporter-buying-dollar-tree-store-out-of-toilet-paper-during-coronavirus-crisis/ And I really don't believe the numbers that woman gave you. Even when we had kids we didn't go through that much toilet paper. It seems like you would never have to leave the house to go through that much. Of course if you had more than two children that might be the case.

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  4. I’m not concerned about a TP shortage. It won’t be long before all the money the Fed is printing will only be useful in the bathroom.

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  5. Wouldn’t another reason women use more toilet paper be that men don’t use it for every outing, so to speak?

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  6. Nice interview this morning on WGN, found the employees stealing the toilet paper interesting, knew a guy that did that, and he was paid well. You sounded a little like Richard Lewis on the radio.

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  7. I can't imagine why a woman uses the toilet more than a man but I imagine the reason they use more toilet paper is because the need it both for #2 and #1.

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  8. Wednesday was the last day I went to the office. As I walked through the underground parking garage, I passed pallet after pallet of toilet paper, stacked higher than my head.

    Three days later came the shelter-in-place order, meaning there will be no use for most of that TP.

    Oh well. It's lousy stuff anyway.

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  9. I never TP'd someone house as a lad, but here in Iowa (maybe it's a local thing) it is still observed.

    Seriously, looking for anyone to explain the fond memories and tradition that spark such nonsense.

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  10. Dang, would have loved to hear you on radio sounding like Richard Lewis. If you have an audio of that, please post it on FB. Ya know, I bet you would be a great stand-up comic with your tongue-in-cheek sense of humor! As far as TP, great column, but the truth is when people panic they are typically irrational and will do things that are neurotic.

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    Replies
    1. At least for the moment WGN Radio has a recording of Neil being interviewed by Bob Sirott on their website. Just click here.

      Delete
  11. I've tried twice to comment on this column. When I hit preview, I lose my copy. Anyone else having this problem? I'm going to post this directly to see if it posts.

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  12. I bought 6,000 rolls of toilet paper yesterday and the store is out of toilet paper today. I was smart to buy it because now there’s a shortage. Who’s the fool here? The person who has tp (me) or the one who doesn’t?

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    Replies
    1. Dolt 45 was babbling today about "Federal anti-hoarding laws."
      You're no fool. You're smart. And you're also a criminal.

      Delete
  13. I guess TP could be pretty therapeutic, compared to corncobs.

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  14. I guess I can comment, just not preview. The website shows as "not secure" in my browser.

    Anyway, the comment I wanted to make is that it occurred to me while trying to find TP and tissues, that any thin paper product will suffice. I wound up buying cheap paper napkins. Napkins, kleenex, paper towels, TP - what's the difference?

    By the way, anyone using 3 rolls of toilet paper a week (unless it's the one-ply dollar store stuff) should see a doctor about their apparently severe gastro-intestinal issues.

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    Replies
    1. The problem with that is they'll clog your pipes. I've heard that people flushing disinfecting wipes have caused problems with sewer systems, but haven't checked that out.

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  15. The cottonelle or Scott types wipes are okay, if not used en masse at one time, but the baby wipes are not meant for the toilet but diaper pail. There will be a sketch showing that on the back of the package.

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