Though not approaching the levels of last March and April, panic buying of toilet paper has become a thing again. That’s according to Danny Alexander, co-founder of Who Gives a Crap, a social enterprise that donates 50% of its profits to charities focused on providing access to clean sanitation. At the beginning of the pandemic, demand for the company’s product increased about 1100%.
With that in mind, Who Gives a Crap just released results of a survey of 1,500 consumers, assessing the current state of panic-buying and other pandemic-related issues. The bottom line: People are freaking out about toilet paper again and spending more time hiding out in the bathroom.
· Toilet paper frenzy. Over half of respondents are worried about having enough toilet paper. Also, 48% are about as grateful for toilet paper as they are for Wifi. That’s almost double the amount of people grateful for their college degree (24.5%).
· Cleaning up. Nine in 10 respondents believe that clean bathrooms limit the spread of COVID-19. Also 67% are washing their hands more frequently than they did before the pandemic. And 58% are cleaning their bathrooms more often.
· Finding solace in the bathroom. About 68% of respondents report using their phone for emails/texts and 56% for viewing social media in the bathroom more frequently since the onset of the pandemic. And 15% of bathroom multitaskers have even gone as far as taking a selfie on the toilet. Also 9% of people claim to have made a TIkTok or other videos there. “The bathroom is a bit of a safe space from intrusion and that’s especially true now that many people are living and working in really tight quarters at home,” says Alexander.
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Certainly, for Alexander, the increase in demand for toilet paper is a plus for both revenues and fulfilling the company’s mission. The more they sell, the more they can give to charities that address sanitation access issues—the primary motivation for starting the business. (The six charities the company supports include such organizations as WaterAid and WaterAid USA).
Quarantines and TP Anxiety
About 2.4 billion people globally don’t have access to basic sanitation, according to Alexander, who started the eight-year-old company with co-founders Simon Griffiths and Jehan Ratnatunga. The situation contributes to serious health problems, not to mention a loss of dignity. “While we’re concerned about having enough hand sanitizer, there are billions of people who don’t have access to even the most basic clean toilets,” he says.
Recent sudden increases in demand have happened in different regions, coinciding with spikes in Covid counts and renewed lockdowns in those areas, according to Alexander. For example, over the past several weeks, there’s been more demand in the U.S., whereas Australians were panic buying a few months ago. Also, in the U.S., Alexander reports a recent spike in demand in Washington and New York (more than 60% growth from early to mid-November), Ohio (98% increase) and California (27% growth). “Whenever there’s a peak in cases that leads to additional quarantining, we see a spike,” says Alexander.