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CVS receipts as toilet paper? People are flushing

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DiscoverGold   Friday, 03/20/20 10:22:04 AM
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CVS receipts as toilet paper? People are flushing all the wrong alternatives during coronavirus shortage
By: MarketWatch | March 20, 2020

• Treat your pipes and your wallet with kindness, perhaps with water-focused alternatives over ‘flushable’ wipes

Overheard in the self-quarantine home office: my husband’s virtual coworker has a solution for no toilet paper.

Dryer sheets. He was kidding — we think.

Conan O’Brien suggests using those notorious arm-length CVS receipts and for sure, bidets have never seemed smarter as preventing the spread of COVID-19 saps even the most personal resources.

People lucky enough to have a closet teeming with two-ply may not realize that the extra demand on the most important room in the house and hoarding for the sake of hoarding have led to ransacked paper-goods aisles in grocery stores, drugstores and big box chains. Creative hygiene is now an offshoot from the social distancing and work-from-home contingencies deemed necessary to slow the deadly new coronavirus pandemic. But there’s a cost to this behavior: stress on home plumbing and public sewer systems.

Even what passes as the next best thing to standard toilet paper, such as wet wipes — sometimes labeled flushable, and increasingly snapped up from depleted baby departments — as well as Kleenex, are getting picked over too. Their increased use isn’t kind to the pipes either, say experts.

Gus Kazek, an environmental engineer with wastewater consultancy Brown and Caldwell, who advises mostly Ohio municipalities, says the disposable wipe industry is misleading consumers because the wipes cannot biodegrade fast enough in water. The wipes get caught in sewer systems’ mesh screens meant to stop debris from making its way into treatment facilities and that means water can’t easily get through either. Sometimes costly teams of scuba divers have to clear the blockage, an expense typically passed on through higher fees to residents.

Here’s what the experts advise as best practices to stay clean, healthy and smart about bathroom hygiene in these trying times.

“When consumers hoard products and create larger-than-needed inventories at home, they tend to consume their way through those inventories at the usual rate. Thus, consumers don’t need to resupply themselves for a longer period of time, and this allows inventory to rebuild back to normal levels at retail stores over the course of a few days or weeks,” said Alan Erera, professor of supply chain engineering, operations research and transportation logistics at Georgia Tech. “So when panic buying occurs, try to avoid the temptation to join the frenzy.”

Don’t shame, either. Families are unsure how long their homes will be 24-7 stand-ins for business centers, schools, bars and restaurants. Restocked shelves also seem to be emptied as soon as they’re replenished.

“Considerable attention is on what individual households and organizations are doing wrong: buying the wrong things, following the wrong advice, spreading the wrong information. What we should rather focus on is the tremendous failure of our systems to address an unfolding crisis,” writes Tricia Wachtendorf, a professor of sociology at the University of Delaware and director of its Disaster Research Center, in an opinion piece for MarketWatch...

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