Let’s be clear here, though. There MIGHT not be any toilet paper on the shelves of the store you choose to go to. But that is only because people are going in and buying more than they need (hoarding) and it might take a few days to re-stock. What there is no shortage of is the SUPPLY side of TP. Toilet paper is one of the few products that are still mass produced right here in the good ol’ USA and there are over 150 companies domestically that manufacture it. Those shelves will be restocked soon. There is no reason, beyond misplaced panic, to go out and buy more toilet paper than you normally would.

So why are people hoarding a non-scarce product? Economists and other academics have a few ideas all of which boil down to some variation of “People Be Weird”.

However, even if you DID find yourself out of TP, there’s no reason to think that it would be much more than an extremely minor inconvenience. Think about all the things you already have or can easily get that would do the job even if all toilet paper were to magically disappear forever.

  • Let’s start with other paper products that are very similar to toilet paper. Paper towels. Kleenex. Coffee Filters.
  • Further down the list there’s newspaper and magazines. My dad grew up in Dust Bowl Oklahoma during the Depression. He never had an indoor bathroom until he was 12 years old. From what he says, the Sears and Roebuck catalogue was a main source of butt hygiene during his childhood.
  • Junk mail. I think all my TP needs could easily be satisfied by the mailers I get almost every day from Spectrum and Pella Windows and Doors.
  • CVS Pharmacy receipts. You’ve always wondered why a receipt needs to be SO long. There you go.
  • Discarded corn cobs (another Depression-era go-to according to my dad).
  • Towels, maybe? Wash cloths? I mean, on a certain level…ewwww. But we are talking about a hypothetical emergency, aren’t we.
  • How about jumping in the shower? Even if there was a shortage of toilet paper…and, again, there DEFINITELY IS NOT…the water probably won’t be shut off.
  • Worst case solution…leaves. I mean, what do you think cave men used? Other than squirrels, obviously.
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