Masks, Masks, Masks

Masks are cool. I am not just saying that because masks are mandatory in my city. I’m also not saying that because wearing a mask means that I no longer have to put makeup on the lower half of my face. I am saying it because it’s cool to be kind to strangers. It’s cool to do something just to be nice. It’s also cool to do your part to try and help slow a global pandemic.

I’ve accumulated quite a collection over the past few weeks, both purchased and made. All reusable. Reusable masks were important for me to get my hands on because, if you remember, I really don’t like single use products. I completely understand that in the middle of a global pandemic, a mask is better than no mask, and for that reason there is a place for disposable masks right now. That being said, it was both within my budget, my resources and my means to get reusable masks. So I did.

Initially I just purchase a set of three. I did so thinking that if I left them by the door of my house, they’d be easy to grab before I headed out for errands. But, as time has unfolded, I’ve learned that it makes my life a lot simpler if I just have a mask anywhere I might need one. Masks at the front door. Masks int he glove box. Masks in my purse. Masks in my office (in two weeks when it reopens). If there’s a mask anywhere that I could possibly need one, I’ll never find myself without or have to say ‘I forgot’. I also won’t have to purchase disposable masks.

I plan on keeping these grey ones at my office. They’re neutral, so if I need one whilst I am at work, it really won’t matter what I am wearing, they’ll match.

These masks inspired a desire to have tie dye in my life. As of right now they’re hanging by the door. You know, I’m coming around to the idea that a little colour can be a good thing!

I bought these masks solely from a vanity perspective. I have blue eyes and my thought was that if I have to wear something on my face that covers half of my face, I might as well get something that matches my eyeballs. That’s accessorizing!

These Canadian themed masks I actually didn’t know were coming my way. My mom made them as a present for me after the mask mandate came into effect in my city. You know, if we’re still wearing masks when the snow starts to fall, I reckon these will be mighty cute during the Canadian winter.

Steps onto Soap Box: Masks are a simple and easy way for people to show they respect their community and their neighbours. Masks are a simple and easy way to help stop/slow the spread of germs. Masks are a simple and easy way to be a good person.

What I’ve learned over the past month (since the mandate came into effect) is that masks aren’t always cheap. I’ve seen them priced anywhere from $3 each to $145 each. And frankly, in the middle of a global pandemic, when people are trying to do their part but also trying to watch their spending, ain’t nobody got time for $145 a mask.

I wanted to share some excellent, affordable mask options, for if you’re looking and don’t have a mom to sew masks for you.

  1. Old Navy – If you are in Canada, Old Navy sells masks in a package of five for $15. If you are in the United States, I believe they are $12.50 for a package of 5. While they are quality masks, Old Navy is a fast fashion brand and I cannot tell you where they are made, by whom, or how little said person might be (is likely) being paid.
  2. Province of Canada – Province of Canada is a Canadian brand that manufactures all of it’s products in Canada. The masks are quite a bit more pricey than the Old Navy masks, but if you have the budget for it, $14 for ethical manufacturing is a great option.
  3. Hanes – These face masks are the ones that ‘everyone and their dogs’ are using for tie-dye from home. Right now the website is selling a 10 pack for less than $30. I’ve ordered some to test my tie-dye abilities but they haven’t arrived yet.

Do you need a ton of face masks? Definitely not. My collection is quite large, and I know that. I do believe that it’s good to have one or two, though. Two is a good number because you should be washing them and if one is in the washing machine, you will still have one available. I also believe that you shouldn’t have to spend your oodles of money on a mask. They’re supposed to help and if they’re deeply impacting your bank account, that’s not helping.

And of course, if you don’t have access to any reusable masks whatsoever, buy the disposable ones. As much as I hate seeing them littered all over streets and sidewalks and getting wrapped around seagull wings right now, seeing them is a reminder that people are wearing them. And that is important. It’s important that we make it through this year and that we all be as kind to one another as possible. Everyone has to work together to slow the spread. Since the CDC, WHO and most governments in the world are recommending masks, masks are cool.

I’ll be wearing them for the foreseeable future.

Get yourself a mask or two. Look at it as something you’re doing for right now, not forever. Lead by example. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Slow the spread.


*My mom says she’ll sell them to whomever wants one. All they have to do is pay the price of postage.

Eco-friendly items for the home

Hi. Hello. Good day! My name is Vee and I hate single-use items. I hate, hate, hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.

Today I want to share some of the reusable alternatives that I’ve implemented in my home and life. I believe each of these items are affordable and have the potential to eliminate a lot of waste from daily life. I’m sharing because there’s a huge misconception that leading a sustainable or eco-friendly lifestyle is expensive. It can be, if you choose that, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of really affordable alternatives out there that everyone can implement in their lives.

Disclaimer: I took these pictures at 9 pm whilst there was a giant rain-storm outside and a tornado warning. The light was going in and out and as a result, there’s a different variation of lighting in these pictures. Hopefully it’s not too distracting.

HAND-KNIT DISH CLOTHS/SCRUBBERS

There’s this saying: “You know you’re an adult when you get more excited for home items then anything else”. That’s me! That’s totally me. My mom makes these dish cloths/scrubbers with yarn that she finds at thrift stores. They rarely match, which makes them feel even more like a one-of-a-kind set, and they eliminate the need to purchase sponges, dish cloths and even paper towels (she makes various sizes for different needs around the home).

I highly recommend cloths knitted in this fashion, as they’re tough and can scrub any ‘caked-on’ mess made in the kitchen. They’re also great for cleaning, too! Just throw in your washer with towels and reuse.

These cloths can be purchased in varying sizes on Etsy. Or, if you’re really crafty, you can teach yourself how to make them! One ball of yarn can make 12 cloths, so they’re very cheap. One of the big bonuses to purchasing them from Etsy is that the platform has become a place for Grandma’s to sell their hand-made kintted goods. So, if you do buy them there’s a good chance you’re supporting a grandma through her retirement.

BEESWAX FOOD WRAPS

Beeswax wrap is an incredible alternative to plastic wrap. Made of beeswax, these items are completely biodegradable and cover your food in just the same way as plastic wrap. This alternative can be quite pricey, depending on where you buy it from. But, if you’re someone who keeps leftovers in your fridge often, they’re a great investment to make.

I’ve read studies online that say beeswax wrap keeps your food fresher longer than plastic wrap. I cannot prove this as it’s been several years since I’ve owned plastic wrap, but if it does, that’s a pretty cool bonus. And even if it doesn’t, you’re still eliminating single-use product waste.

REUSABLE FOOD-STORAGE BAGS

I hate Ziploc bags. I hate no-name single-use bags of any type. I really do. The entire premise of the product is that it carry something for you for, at times, just minutes before it gets trashed. With the average use of a Ziploc or no-name single-use bag being a half day, they are an extremely wasteful product.

I purchased the bags pictured for $12. They’re freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe and made from food-grade silicone. They’re leak-proof and an incredible alternative to to all single-use bags. Point of note – I actually stored spaghetti sauce in one of these bags last week and not only did it not leak, but it also didn’t stain.

I highly recommend a set of these if your budget allows it! They’re available online and are starting to pop up more and more at grocery stores, if you’re looking.

REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES

Let’s remember that plastic is not the enemy. The eco-friendly movement is about eliminating or minimizing single-use plastics. The point is to purchase things intentionally so that they can be used over and over and not just trashed. While reusable water bottles can get quite expensive, depending on the type you buy (I’ve seen glass bottles cost $75) they don’t have to. The blender bottle of the left of this photo cost me $7.99 and I bought it four years ago. Reusable water bottles are an easy, cheap and eco-friendly way to keep single use plastics out of your home. Bonus points for the fact that it encourages you to drink more water… which everyone can benefit from.

Caveat: If you don’t have safe drinking water at your home, I realize that this product likely won’t be of any use to you. And yes, I do understand that not everyone in this world has safe drinking water at home.

STAINLESS STEEL STRAWS

Stainless steel straws are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cheap. So are reusable plastic straws, bamboo straws and glass straws. I realize that COVID has put a damper on being able use your own straws in a lot of restaurants and coffee shops, but you can absolutely still use them at home.

Single use plastic straws are too small to be recycled. Because of this, all disposable straws are winding up in landfills, or worse… in the ocean. For something that is used for just a few minutes at a time, and then trashed, purchasing a set of straws (which can be done for as little as four dollars depending on the type that you get) helps save our sea creatures and means that you’re always smoothie ready.

MAKEUP REMOVER PADS

Disposable cotton rounds have sat atop bathroom vanities across the world for decades. They’re easy to get, cheap as heck and you can buy them from virtually any drug store or grocery store. Most important, they’re easy to throw away, which I hate. I’m genuinely really proud of the fact that they seem to FINALLY be going out of style.

Reusable makeup remover pads/cotton rounds are exactly that, reusable. With it estimated that the average woman can possibly go through as many as 100 disposable cotton rounds in a single month, purchasing one package of reusable makeup remover pads can eliminate more than 1,200+ pieces of waste in a single year.

This particular set that I have was actually made by my mom. She used an old towel (because upcycling is cool) and sewed around the edges to ensure they wouldn’t fray. That being said, you can purchase a single set for as little as $10 for 20 online. In store, they tend to run more expensive.

If you don’t mind the stains, white is a pretty common colour. To me, the stains just remind me that they’ve been used. That being said, they do come in a variety of colours, including dark fabrics that will hide stains if that might bother you.

DRYER BALLS

Dryer balls are an eco-friendly and natural alternative to both dryer sheets and fabric softener. Whilst there are many types of dryer balls – wool, plastic, rubber, etc.. dryer balls made from wool are completely biodegradable.

Dryer balls work by retaining the heat they soak up when the dryer is turned on. Using that heat, they keep your laundry from clumping allowing the heat emitted from the dryer to be more evenly distributed through your laundry. These actions will help to cut your drying time considerably, and in turn, lower your electric bills. Wool dryer balls also work as a softener, helping smooth out wrinkles and keeping your clothes looking smooth and feeling cozy.

I bought a set of six for $15. It’s estimated dryer balls can last up to a year, depending on how much laundry your household does. When they have worn out and just aren’t fulfilling their purpose anymore (as they do deteriorate over time), you can literally just take it and drop it in your garden or compost, if you compost at home. (Plastic/Rubber dryer balls are obviously not biodegradable, this is a perk specific to wool balls)

TO CONCLUDE

It doesn’t have to be expensive to lead a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Looking at this post, it might look expensive seeing everything together, but please keep in mind that all of these items were purchased or given to me at different times. A one time investment in every item together would be very costly and hard on the bank account. But, if you slowly implement meaningful, intentional changes over time, you’ll come to realize just how helpful it can be to have high-quality, reusable items in your home.

It’s a cliche statement, I know, but remember that you might not be able to do all of the good that this world needs, but the world needs all of the good that you can do. And minimizing, eliminating single-use disposable items and trash is a very good thing!

The English language is really difficult sometimes.

I truly admire people who learn English as a second language. I especially admire people who learn English as a second language as an adult. This is not an easy language to comprehend, and people have been speaking to me and teaching it to me since my birth.

Here’s a few examples to remind you just how fun this language is:

Read is the present tense. Read is the past tense.
Plead is the present tense. Pleaded is the past tense.

The plural of goose is geese.
The plural of moose is moose.

Contractions function almost identically to the full two-word phrase, but are only appropriate in certain places of a sentence. It’s one of the weirdest quirks of this language we’ve.

Cough is pronounced ‘c-off’.
Dough is pronounced ‘d-oh’.
Tough is pronounced ‘t-uff’.
Through is pronounced ‘thr-oo’.

It’s ‘fourth’ and not ‘forth’ but it’s ‘forty’ and not ‘fourty’.

One mouse is a mouse, a few are considered mice.
One house is a house, a few are not hice.

Read and lead rhyme.
Read and lead rhyme.
Read and lead do not rhyme.
Nor does read and lead.

We park in driveways and drive on parkways.

Tear (to cry) and tear (to rip) are two completely different sounding words.

A ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ mean the exact same thing.

Why the hell does the word ‘queue’ even exist?

Is it the ‘s’ or the ‘c’ in scent that’s the silent letter?

For the American’s out there, why is Kansas pronounced ‘Cans-as’ but Arkansas pronounced ‘Ar-kin-saw’?

Biweekly can mean every two weeks or two times in one week.

Why is ‘Dick’ a nickname for Richard?

Laughter is pronounced ‘laff-ter’.
One would think that ‘manslaughter’ would then be pronounced ‘mans-laff-ter’, right? WRONG.

Womb is pronounced ‘woom’.
Bomb is not boom.

Does anyone else’s head hurt when they think about the crazy rules, exceptions and things that make zero sense in the English language? All I have to say after writing this post is, give people a little bit of grace if the spell something wrong, say something wrong or use the wrong word in the wrong place. English is hard.

It’s okay to not know what to say.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening this week. I’ve been listening to those with really important things to say and I’ve been listening to those who bring nothing to the table but noise.

I believe it’s important to listen, especially in a time like this.

I also believe it’s important to know that everyone deals with crises differently. Trying to shame someone into publicly taking a stance is not fair and not helpful. We’re living in a world where half the population is saying ‘shut up and listen’ whilst the other half of the population is saying ‘silence is violence’. And honestly, both stances have merit.

We all saw the same horrific video of a black man being murdered in broad daylight by a white police officer with no remorse or care for the terror and brutality he was committing and the life that he was taking.

This horrific video, while it affected us all, is something we each deal with in different ways.

Some take to social media/blogs. Some take to the streets. Some take to their phones. Some write letters to the mayors, the governors and anyone they think might have the power to evoke change. Some donate. Some educate themselves, their parents, siblings, friends and strangers. Others, well others have officially registered to vote. Finally. This will be their year. And some people have chosen to do all of the above.

There are so many routes to change and ALL of these things are good. One or all of these things could end up being integral to the shaking of the foundation of American culture as we know it. And, quite frankly, could create a ripple effect within all of our cultures. Because racism is a people problem whether you live in Minneapolis, Fez or Auckland. It might not be as rampant where you live, but it’s there, I promise you that.

Trying to shame someone into taking a ‘public’ stance on social media or elsewhere is not right and not helpful. Some people have a way with words, a super power that evokes passion from those who read their work, whether it through social media, email or other. But that’s not everyone. Some people have a fearless nature that calls them to the streets, a super power that tells them no matter what happens, they can handle it. Come rubber bullets, tear gas, hell or high water, they will not move until they are heard. I admire the hell outta that.

I could go on and on here, but the truth is, there are people with far more important things to say right now. People who are waking up our world to the injustice they’ve felt and experienced since the day they were born.

I just wanted to say that change looks different for everyone. There is no correct reaction to what we’ve seen and what we’re feeling. The very fact that you’re feeling is a good sign. And, it’s okay if you don’t know what to say. Those that do, they’ll say it for you.

So listen. Be empathetic. Evoke change how you can. And please don’t shame anyone because their change doesn’t look the way that you want it to.

Here I am, talking way too much still. I need to shut up.

One more thing, though. I just wanted to share this quote from an old commercial. It is one that was not about racial injustice when made, but when I heard it today it sent shivers down my spine.

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them,
glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.

While some may see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Change is coming. I can feel it in my bones.

Racism is ruining us

Watching the video of George Floyd being murdered in broad daylight, by police officers, made me sick to my stomach.

I cried.

Watching the video of Amy Cooper borderline strangling her dog as she weaponized Christian Cooper’s race during a 911 call that she worked herself into a literal frenzy as a means to blatantly lie to dispatchers because she was asked to put her dog on a leash really pissed me off. She knew exactly what she was doing when she made that fucking phone call. What she was hoping for in making that call? I don’t know. But she knew the moment the words ‘African American Male’ came from her mouth, the law was ‘on her side’ so to speak.

That is white privilege.

That is deeply rooted, systemic racism that exists and is rampant in our society today.

What happened to George Floyd could have very well happened to Christian Cooper all because he was out watching birds and he wanted a woman to put her dog on a leash.

Lately, I find myself getting more and more angry with the human race. We’ve become so accustomed to hearing stories like Ahmaud Arbery being murdered while out for a jog because, and I cannot make this shit up, ‘he looked like a thief’, that people are becoming immune to caring. They’re becoming immune to giving a damn.

Breonna Taylor was an EMT who was shot eight times in her own fucking apartment by police officers. She was at home. At home. Home is supposed to be where you’re supposed to be safe.

So much has happened this year. So much has happened this week alone that it’s becoming so easy for people to just let this information go in one ear and out the other. And it’s easy for people to quickly forget. Because next week, there’ll be another story. There’ll be another Stephon Clark, Botham Jean and Trayvon Martin next week, next month, next…

It sounds fucking awful when I say it, but it’s true.

I’m a Caucasian female who is fully aware of the privileges that the colour of my skin has awarded me in this life. I’m also fucking sick of this culture built around racism. I’m fucking sick of white people teaching white people to fear anyone of a different race. I’m sick of white people teaching white people that anyone who is not a white person is not worthy of basic human decency.

Stephon Clark was not holding a weapon, he was holding a cell phone when he was gunned down by police in his grandmother’s back yard. George Floyd was not resisting arrest, he was not holding a weapon he did nothing to warrant four police officers pinning him to the ground. Trayvon Martin’s crime? There wasn’t one.

I know that people don’t like it when I complain about Donald Trump but I need to add in a point here that the fish stinks from the head. The United States of America has had deeply rooted issues with racism for decades, I am aware of this. But Donald Trump, he emboldens racists. He gives them platforms for which to believe their behaviour is acceptable, just and moral, when it is not.

Last month we watched hundreds of people storm the capitol building of various states across the United States protesting stay at home orders that were established to keep those very people protesting safe and healthy. Did they do it with signs and sit-ins in a peaceful protest? No, the brought their assault rifles and bullet proof armour putting each of their own lives, and the lives of every essential work at risk. Donald Trump touted them as very fine people who wanted to go back to work.

This month people are protesting the murder of a man in broad daylight by a police officer and Donald Trump is touting them as ‘thugs’ and threatening to send in the National Guard. I’m not excusing the behaviour that is going on in Minneapolis right now. I’m not saying that burning buildings is correct. But I am saying that I understand it. And I am saying they’re not thugs. Justice is not on their side. Justice is not on the side of an unarmed black man who was not resisting arrest and just needed the fucking police to not be crushing his wind pipe.

The underlying difference between these two months and the protests ensuing? The demographic of protestors.

Why does being black make you a thug? Why does being black make you become someone that the world should fear? Why are people teaching that the colour of your skin determines your value in this world? And why are there so many fucking people avoiding the subject?

My heart breaks for George Floyd’s family. My heart breaks for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Stephon Clark, and every innocent life that has been lost due to deep, systemic racism rooted in a society that values your life based on the colour of your skin.

We shouldn’t be this society. We should be so much better than this. We need to educate one another and instill better values in one another. We cannot continue to tolerate this as a society. No one race is superior to another.

This is unrelated to what’s going on in the United States right now, but there’s been a sharp spike in hate crimes against people of Asian descent here in Canada in recent months. When I say a sharp spike, I mean it’s one of the top stories on the news each and every night. Property vandalized, people bullied, assaulted or worse, racial slurs popping up what feels like everywhere. It’s alarming. It’s alarming because it’s such a slippery slope. We sat at the dinner table tonight and my mom naively said ‘that’ll never happen here because we’re not American’, to which I replied ‘Racism is racism, regardless of the scale to which it’s being executed, and you should be careful what you say because it’s a very slippery slope from someone assaulting a 91 year old Vietnamese man out for a walk around the block, to what the United States is presently dealing with’.

Dinner was abruptly ended.

Am I sorry for what I said to her? No.

Difficult discussions need to be had. People need to realize that sweeping generalizations are crushing our society and sending us into a deeper spiral of racism, vitriol, hatred and violence.

I’m angry at the news lately. I’m angry because of the people causing the news lately. I’m angry that a woman damn well knows that if she works herself into a frenzy on the phone with 911 and uses the term ‘African American Man’ then the law will be on her side.

I’m just angry with it all.

I haven’t wanted to talk about it because I don’t want to argue with people. But at the same time, part of me feels as though discussions are more important than sweeping it aside and waiting for the next occurrence to happen. Because lately, it seems like it’s day by day, sometimes hour by hour, that these things are coming to light.

And I’m so fucking thankful that people are filming these incidents now.

As hard as it is to watch, I think that’s important for our world to see just how bad it’s gotten, just how low we are. I think it’s important for it to be on record, for the footage to be right in front of our eyes.

As much as I know so many people will just let it go in one ear and out the other, I really hope that these types of videos serve as a wake-up call.

Thoughts and worries and such

As tree planting season begins in the north, it’s noticeably different this year.

See, one thing that BC is famous for is our forests. They’re everywhere. There is so much forest in BC that if every single person in this province was actually separated, we’d each get 32 square kilometres of forest to ourselves.

While summer is a beautiful season which is normally great time to celebrate in this part of the world, summer often puts our forests at risk. Hot weather mixed with lightning, careless humans, bonfires or lit cigarettes being discarded of in dry landscape makes for some extremely large forest fires just about every summer without fail.

This province relies on fire fighters and tree planters every summer.

The tree planting season has begun and it’s structure is distinctly abridged from previous years. People are questioning the effectiveness of what these tree planters will be able to accomplish this summer if they stick to strict social distancing guidelines to ensure each of them stay healthy.

And honestly, if that’s the case, when the fires start… we’re fucking screwed.

How are the fire fighters going to effectively fight forest fires if they’re either having to practice social distancing, or they’re falling ill due to COVID?

It’s something I’m genuinely worried about.

We haven’t had enough warm weather yet this year for fires to start. But I genuinely don’t think British Columbian’s understand what could be on the line if we don’t social distance enough to fight off COVID. Those fire fighters keep our homes from burning, or lives from being ruined and our province from turning to ash.

What happens if they can’t do what they do because we haven’t done the simple act of staying the fuck home to stop COVID from spreading?

The one where I talk about guns

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today there will be a ban, effective immediately, on some 1,500 military grade ‘assault style’ weapons. Starting today, May 1st, licensed gun owners will no longer be able to buy, sell, trade, transport, import or use these weapons in Canada.

The Canadian government will also begin the process of a ‘buy-back program’ in which individuals who own these guns will be provided with compensation to turn over their weapons.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

Though legislation for this has been in the works for more than a year, this announcement comes less than two weeks after a mass shooting in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia where 22 people lost their lives. When speaking of the deadliest rampage in Canadian history, Trudeau said “Their families deserve more than thoughts and prayers. Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.”

While reaction to the announcement has been largely positive, it is worth noting that not everyone has been happy to hear this announcement. Conservative Politicians have been very critical of the plan, proclaiming that it infringes on the rights of legal gun owners in Canada. Also, claiming that it’s poorly timed and crass.

Trudeau’s response? “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer.”

So what does this mean for Canadians? It means that if you want to be a hunter, you can be so without assault style weaponry. It means that these weapons will no longer be on store shelves. It means that, while we can’t bring and of these people back for their family and friends, we can honour their lives by taking positive steps forward in society.

It is true, more work will need to be done to stop these weapons that are being transported illegally into Canada. But, in my personal opinion, I reckon that steps are already being taken to stop the illegal import of these guns. I also reckon it’d be a pretty stupid move on behalf of the government or any law enforcement agency to publicly announce their plan for stopping the illegal weapon imports. If the criminal enterprise can watch law enforcement plans on television, they can easily stay five steps ahead. It’s a delicate game that needs to be done in the strictest of confidence to protect the lives of law enforcement and all Canadians. So please don’t expect plans to stop the illegal spread of guns be broadcasted for the world to hear.

My personal take? It’s about fucking time. The Prime Minister is right, Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers. I touched last year on a story about how two teenagers legally purchased an assault rifle and went on a murderous rampage throughout Northern BC, lead RCMP on a cross country manhunt and turned their gun on themselves after they were cornered in rural northern Manitoba. Something I didn’t touch on that was released months after their bodies were found was that they left detailed suicide notes explaining how many more murders they planned to commit that they didn’t get too because the police caught onto them too quickly.

From BC to Nova Scotia, if we can save even one more life, it’s a worthwhile investment in our country’s future.

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020

All credit to this post goes to Will Oremus and his story ‘What everyone’s getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage’.

Am I really going to talk about toilet paper? YES. Yes, I am. As mentioned on this blog last week, Economics is a passion of mine. And this, having a lot to do with economics, is something I find interesting.


If you’ve been living on planet earth at all during the past month, you’ll likely have noticed a distinct lack of toilet paper… everywhere. First it was being written off as panic buying. Photos circulated the web of people purchasing hundreds of rolls of toilet paper at a time, and bragging about it to their social media profiles. Others got caught in viral videos fighting over it in grocery store aisles. If you weren’t quick to run to the store, you might not have even found it at all.

Leaders and celebrities, people of influence and grocery store owners encouraged everyone to calm down, stop panic buying and start thinking rationally. Store after store after store promised there was no issue with the supply chain and there wasn’t a shortage, ‘we just weren’t prepared for the entire country to go out and panic buy hundreds of rolls at a time’.

This didn’t just happen here in Canada, it seemed to be happening across the world. For weeks jokes have been flying that ‘corona virus doesn’t give you diarrhea’ and though the large-scale panic buying mania has largely subsided, the toilet paper aisle is still bare.

Why?

The other aisles have been restocked. And, in a lot of cases other aisles have been restocked two or three times over at this point. But somehow, even with limits of how much someone can purchase, the toilet paper aisle is still empty.

The fact of the matter is, panic buying aside, COVID-19 has created an increase in demand for toilet paper. It is… somewhat of an essential in most homes in 2020 around the world. Could we live without it? Probably. Do we want to live without it? No.

Think back to a pre-COVID world. Times were calm. Large chunks of the population were in school or at work for 6-12 hours (or more) a day. And even after they returned home, they might opt to go out for dinner. Take their kids to hockey practice, or have some sort of an event that would keep them out of their home for even longer during the day.

The ‘residential’ toilet paper supply chain is built to work 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to produce precisely what was needed pre-COVID. The residential toilet paper supply chain is not built to function for the high demand of most of the world staying home 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week.

People aren’t going to the bathroom more now than pre-COVID. What has changed is that people are going to the bathroom more at home.

In his piece, Oremus explains that there are two distinct supply chains for toilet paper. Manufacturing plants that make the toilet paper that winds up in our grocery stores are not the same manufacturing plants that create the toilet paper that winds up in schools, in office washrooms, in the mall washrooms, and so on and so forth. For instance, Charmin is making toilet paper for the home but they are not in the business of making the large scale, industrial style single-ply toilet paper you find in public washrooms. They’re different products, made from different materials in different assembly lines in different manufacturing plants.

So, as we around the world are seeing empty shelves, still, when we wander the toilet paper aisle in our local grocery stores, there’s a large subsection of the economy that could very well have a surplus of toilet paper sitting around in storage closets and warehouses. This is because the ‘commercial’ toilet paper supply chain doesn’t need to supply commercial businesses and public facilities with toilet paper when these businesses and facilities aren’t open and people are staying home.

As of today, April 7th 2020, the residential supply chain for toilet paper is not meeting demand the commercial supply chain for toilet paper doesn’t seem to have a demand.

What’s the answer?

There isn’t really one.

Toilet paper is a relatively value-less product from a manufacturing standpoint. From the manufacturing perspective you make it, you ship it to the grocery store and then you make more. You don’t make heaps of it at a time to create massive stockpiles for times of higher demand because firstly, it is not going to bring any extra value to your company, and secondly it has a shelf life.

I know that’s a weird concept to think about, toilet paper having a shelf life, but overtime toilet paper does break down.

Essentially, if you’re Charmin or Royale or any of the big players… or even the small players, it’s not going to serve the company well to create more than what demand requires.

Are Charmin or Royale or any of the players in the toilet paper manufacturing industry going to up their game or double production for the foreseeable future? Maybe. Some might try. But there is a possibility that they don’t bother. COVID-19 doesn’t come with a ‘this is how long you have’ notification. From a business perspective, there are countries already ready and trying to open back up their schools, economies and lives. It’s a very real possibility that a lot of these companies continue producing for the demand they’ve always been producing for, forcing society to adjust.

If any company does try to adjust to meet this new demand in grocery stores then in two, three or four months time they could be out a considerable loss when the world rebounds and starts going back to work and school and hockey practice. They’ll have a hyper productive assembly line to create for demands that are no longer there. Which is taking a massive gamble on a relatively worthless product in a very unstable world.

Are the commercial manufacturers going to switch their production to create the stuff sold in grocery stores? No. Bottom line, they don’t have the infrastructure, the machinery, or the supply chain opportunities to do so. They also don’t have the relationships with grocery stores to sell their products and put their products on shelves.

Could you get your hands on some of the commercial product for your home? Possibly. If you’re savvy or have business connections. If you’re a regular joe like the most of us, it might be difficult. You might have better luck just phoning the store before you go to ask when their toilet paper is being restocked.

Bottom line, Oremus summed up pretty nicely nearing the end of his piece:

If there’s any good news, it’s that we can stop blaming these shortages on the alleged idiocy of our fellow consumers. 

Will Oremus, Marker

This shortage of toilet paper could go on for months. While panic buying might have started the shortage, increase in demand is what has kept this shortage going.

You will see shelves restocked and new product making it through the supply chain during that time. But, there is a very real possibility the shelves will be restocked only to be emptied again and again and again. The increase in demand will be difficult to meet in the current COVID world.

What a year it’s been so far. Had you told me three months ago that toilet paper would simultaneously be one of the most worthless and most valuable products available on the market, I’d have probably laughed in your face.

I just know this shortage is going to wind up in a textbook eventually. Economic professors everywhere are already planning it.


If anyone has read this, I strongly recommend reading What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage by Will Oremus. Not only does he explain it a lot more professionally than I do, he mentions some other supply chains that will likely see disruptions over the next few months.

When you know enough to know that you just don’t know.

The key to true wisdom is acknowledging how little you know. I knew a lot more about everything at the age of eighteen than I do now. Is that true? Not really. But I thought that I knew more and no one could have told me otherwise. Now I’m able to acknowledge the extent of the world that I simply don’t understand, can’t understand or have yet to learn.

It’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing. Sometimes people treat lack of knowledge as though shameful thing. I think it takes a certain amount of confidence and strength to be willing to acknowledge that you don’t know something. You also need to be willing to learn though. Perhaps the shame in not knowing is actually a shame in being unwilling to know and people merely miscalculate reaction timing? I know enough to know that I just don’t know.

Please don’t be rude.

I’ve been thinking…

There is no reason, rhyme or explanation as to why anyone should be leaving a rude or mean comment on someone’s blog. You can be open, honest and respectful towards someone that you completely disagree with in every sense of your being and maintain a completely cordial discourse, interaction or relationship.

And yes, there is a way of perhaps letting someone know they might be wrong whilst still being polite about it. So if you disagree with someone and would like to share your perspective, be polite. Don’t be an asshole.

Please don’t be an asshole. If you read a blog post and you get the urge to leave a rude comment or to be mean to the person who wrote the post, just move on. Your comment is not going to serve any positive purpose. You’re not going to open any discussion, change any minds or allow them to see another perspective if you’re being an asshole.