It’s hard to forget that early part of last year, after most states had implemented their Stay at Home orders and “quarantine” had officially begun, when droves of anxious people rushed to their grocery stores and stocked up on as much of the essentials as they could carry home. Pandemic aside, it was pretty funny seeing grown adults struggling to carry more than fifty rolls of toilet paper as they walked home.
While toilet paper and other such essentials became meme-worthy, the reality is that a lot of essentials – supplies that people need and use every day – saw shortages for several months. Especially when it came to personal hygiene and cleaning products, the paranoia surrounding germs, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens led to apocalyptic overstocking. Now that things are settled and the pandemic is all but over, here’s what we’ve learned about stocking up on supplies:
The Role of the EPA
When it comes to general cleaning and disinfecting, the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, appears to be the ruling body. Not long after quarantine began, it became almost impossible to find a tube of Clorox or Lysol disinfecting wipes on the shelf of any grocery store or convenience shop. Why?
The EPA is very strict on official registration of products with potentially hazardous chemicals meant for disinfecting. In order to make those claims that you read on most labels – kills 99.9% of blah blah blah – manufacturers must fill out long, tedious applications with fees upwards of fifty thousand dollars, and wait on average 7-8 months before being approved. With such a long and costly barrier to entry, it’s easy to see why there was such a supply shortage. The lesson? Stock up on disinfecting products!
The Role of the FDA
The FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, is the agency responsible for monitoring supplies-of-importance such as masks, latex gloves, and other pandemic-related products. Breathing and touching, two acts critical to being a functional person in public, became risky and raised the demand for masks and gloves beyond available supplies. Not only did the cost of masks and gloves increase more than tenfold, it was almost impossible to get them! The lesson? Stock up on a few boxes of both in case of an(other) emergency.
Cleaning and disinfecting products? Check. Personal protective equipment? Check. What about personal hygiene? Well, let’s circle back to the toiletries craze.
It’s definitely not a bad idea to have an extra 20 or 30 rolls of toilet paper and paper towels put away. Neither is it a bad idea to have a few extra bottles of antibacterial soap, and some extra bottles of lotion so your hands don’t dry and crack. Another good idea is to put away plenty of hand sanitizer and some travel pouches of alcohol wipes. The pandemic gobbled up the world supply of sanitizer, because people value personal hygiene!