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Op-Ed: Life Without Toilet Paper

Senior Cole Starmer

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, demand for sanitary supplies such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper rose to an all-time high as bustling crowds of customers rushed to local stores to buy their fill of the products. In the wake of the initial spread of the virus, shops were left with little in the ways of sanitation supplies and home necessities. “We have dramatically increased production since the beginning of the year,” said GoJo industries, the producers of Purell, about the shortage of product in a statement to NBC news. 

Walking down the aisle of any local grocery store will yield a view of barren and empty shelves that once held troves of toilet paper rolls. The initial rush left many in need of basic supplies that were no longer available. I was surprised to find myself in this position walking through my grocery store trying desperately to find a roll of toilet paper. My family was not among the throngs of people trying to buy as many supplies as they could, and as a result, we were left in the dust in terms of being prepared to face the empty aisles we found when looking for goods.

The sad truth is that the lack of supplies extends to more than just sanitary needs. Shelves that once carried dozens of bags of rice sat empty. My family remained stoic throughout the virus, but not being able to find even a single bag of rice, something that was common weeks ago, scared us for the future. If we couldn’t find rice, what would be next? 

Despite the wave of problems we faced, not everyone was without a solution. Thankfully, Amazon is still operating through the virus and is able to ship goods to homes. My family ordered supplies such as aloe, rubbing alcohol, and plastic flasks to create a homemade hand sanitizer according to the FDA guidelines. We made another order for fabrics and sewed our own masks for when we are out in public. As the virus remains for weeks on end, we started to find creative solutions to match the problems that arose. 

As the year slowly moves toward summer, the world also seems to be rising out of the crisis at hand. When driving through town, one can see kids playing in grassy fields, people slowly starting to go to work, and newfound energy found within the quarantine. Supplies like toilet paper and rice are returning to store shelves. This return of needed supplies is appreciated, but it is going to take a long time for the virus to die off and for life to return to normal.

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