Editorial: Remembering others during panic

Editorial Board

On March 15, TikTok user Lauren Whitney posted a TikTok that has since gone viral regarding a diaper shortage.

“To all you crazy people buying out all the diapers – how am I supposed to diaper my child if I can’t afford to buy 20 [boxes] at a time like you can?” Whitney said through tears. 

As people go into a panic regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart, Target, Costco and other grocery stores are dealing with shortages for almost everything, ranging from masks to toilet paper

Due to increased demand for bath or toilet tissue resulting from stock up buying and individuals who purchase for resale, a mandatory limit on toilet paper sales is instituted until the supply chain meets the demand for two weeks, whichever comes first. 

All sales of bath or toilet tissue occurring in Dallas County are limited to the greater of: (a) 12 rolls per purchase or (b) one package per purchase.

At first, this may seem like a valid course of action – a lot of people can feel helpless having to stay inside all the time, so panic-buying and  ‘ensuring’ that you will have what you need, when you need it, is something you can control. There are also people who see this as a money-making opportunity, and are stocking up on items such as hand sanitizer to sell.  

But as Whitney points out, not everyone can afford to panic-buy items in large amounts. When people who desperately, actually, need items such as toilet paper, water, diapers and more, and they cannot find it, this becomes a true issue. At the moment, we do not know how long this is going to last – we need to think about the needs of others not just for the short-term, but also for the long term. 

This is especially relevant for those more at risk for COVID-19, such as the elderly. They are not able to go to the grocery store as often, but still need these items. 

When one person starts to hoard things, others follow, thinking that this must be the necessary course of action, ultimately leading into a cycle. 

Alongside that, a lot of the items that are being bought can be easily made from home. For example, making your own masks is an option that many are taking, and when you choose to stock up on masks, people who genuinely need them (such as those working with the sick) have to go without them. 

While washing your hands is the better option, hand sanitizer is only helpful if you’re buying it with a high alcohol concentration, and people that are buying large amounts of hand sanitizer usually are not buying the right sanitizer. 

Ultimately, panic-buying and stocking up on items that would realistically not be used up for several months signifies selfishness, which is the last thing we need during this pandemic. Remember that there are others who genuinely need these things, and by not panic-buying, we are helping everyone have access to the same basic necessities, so that everyone can stay clean and healthy.