Toilet roll has become as rare as gold dust lately. You can visit five different shops and still come out empty-handed – so what’s a person to do?
There are a few ways around it – but we need to be sensible about this. Stockpiling loo roll is a definite no-no. If you’ve got 24 rolls stashed away in a cupboard, you really shouldn’t be reading this article. But if you’re down to your last few, here are some tips to help you get hold of it.
NHS workers should head to Waitrose as all stores are now protecting batches of ‘hard to find’ and essential stock exclusively for them. This ensures they have better opportunity to access these items at all times of the day. NHS staff will also get priority checkout in all the supermarkets, either through a dedicated till or moved to the front of the queue. Other supermarkets have similar guidelines for NHS staff, so it’s worth checking them out.
If you don’t work for the NHS, remember: while plenty of retailers may be out of loo roll today, that doesn’t mean they won’t have more in tomorrow, or during the week.
In other supermarkets, where only a certain number of packs can be purchased, staff might have toilet rolls behind the tills that they’ve taken off those trying to stockpile – and not yet had time to return to shelves. If you’re desperate for a pack, speak to cashiers who may be able to give you one of these.
Another top tip is to get to the shops early. If you’re on your last roll, head to your store when it opens when they’re likely to have stock on shelves. You may have to queue, so be prepared for crowds.
Or, instead of heading to huge supermarkets, try your local corner shop, smaller nearby supermarket, or independent retailers. They’re less likely to be inundated with shoppers. Some of them get deliveries throughout the day, so if the shelves are empty, ask a staff member when they’re next due one – then head back at that time.
Alternatively, book an online supermarket shop and order a big pack of loo roll. As it stands, people are facing multiple-week waits for deliveries, so order one or two big packs and you should be sorted until the next order comes.
If you’re self-isolating, try joining Nextdoor or your local Covid Mutual Aid UK, and ask your neighbours if they can pick some up for you if they’re also going out – there are plenty of community groups doing this right now. But remember, they won’t be able to get too many as it’ll look like they’re stockpiling.
Another workaround is to sign up for a toilet roll subscription service. Brands like Cheeky Panda and Who Gives A Crap deliver bundles of toilet paper to your door. However, as you can imagine, both are low on stock. You’ll need to check back on both websites frequently – Cheeky Panda has stated it will be restocking, and Who Gives A Crap is prioritising current customers’ subscriptions. With the latter, you’re advised to add your email address on its website so they can let you know when they have more stock.
You could also shop around online – sites like Amazon offer toilet roll bulk bundles delivered to your door.
In some stores, you can still get boxes of tissues. It might be worth getting some of these for emergencies. But remember, if all else fails, your shower is basically a stand-up bidet.
Some people may resort to kitchen roll or baby wipes. While that’s absolutely fine to do, remember not to flush them. Wipes, along with other “unflushables” like nappies and sanitary products, don’t break down in pipes like toilet paper and can combine with fats, oils and grease to create fatbergs.
These are huge, solid masses which are difficult to clear and can cause raw sewage to build up and flood homes, businesses and the environment – not what you want at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic.
Thames Water said they should be thrown in the bin. (Maybe get some bin liners in there first, though.) Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said: “While we encourage everyone to practice good hygiene to protect against Covid-19, wet wipes and kitchen roll can be hugely damaging to our sewers and our customers can really help us by not flushing them down the toilet.
“Fatbergs grow slowly so it’s hard to say if coronavirus has had an impact on our sewers at this stage but, as always, we’d urge everyone to only flush the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper – to help avoid problems in the future.”