Are you hoarding supplies? I’m supposed to be wrapping up my month of blog posts talking about paper: as in organizing and filing papers. Instead, I’m talking about hoarding supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products.
Up until recently when we talked about hoarding, we were talking about a home we may think is filled up or overflowing with stuff. Or maybe we would be referring to a friend of relative we couldn’t visit because their home was so full, they couldn’t have anyone over.
What is the Hoarding Disorder?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that the Hoarding Disorder occurs in between 2 and 6 % of the population. That’s a lot of people. Those diagnosed with the Hoarding Disorder save random items and store them haphazardly. People challenged by the Hoarding Disorder have tremendous difficulty letting go of things they have saved. In fact, they often save so many things that their homes are completely filled up. Click here for more details on the Hoarding Disorder. This is not what we’re talking about now.
Now, when we talk about hoarding, we’re talking about people who are fearful of not being able to get the things they need to feed their family, keep their homes clean, and feel safe. They stock up on these items and buy more than they will use to feel safe in their homes.
This is about control. We have no control over the virus. Having no control is an unfamiliar feeling for us (those of us living in the United States). So, we control what we can. Many people are stockpiling (hoarding) supplies so that they have control over some part of their life right now.
The news in Atlanta frequently posts stories, interviews, with truck drivers who tell us that they are delivering supplies to stores daily. These truck drivers are telling us that we don’t need to buy more than our family requires because they are delivering fresh supplies all the time. I can tell you personally I believe that is true here in Atlanta and I hope it is true where you are also. The fabulous, tirelessly working employees at the Publix near me work every evening to restock the shelves but no matter what time of day I go to Publix the shelves in the cleaning aisles are absolutely bare.
Life changing event
We know that hoarding behaviors are often triggered by a life changing event. This Corona Virus has certainly changed our lives. We are being told to practice social distancing, to stay 6 feet or more away from other people. Businesses have closed and people are fearful. Children are out of school and parents are finding out just how hard it is to be a teacher.
We are living through a disaster, that is apparent. Experience tells us that we have to hunker down and be prepared when disaster strikes. We close in on ourselves and protect the things we hold dear. Some people have done just that by hoarding supplies. They have gathered the things in their homes that make them feel safer and more in control.
Did not prepare
What about other people? Some people did not prepare by running out and buying a month’s worth of frozen food, bottled water, paper towels, and toilet paper. These people are also looking for essential cleaning supplies and they can’t find them. If you have more than you need, consider sharing. Ask your neighbor if they are running out of something. If you have more than you will use in a couple of weeks or a month, please share your supply. That would be so kind.
Going to extremes
Some people say extreme times call for extreme measures. Maybe the people who are hoarding supplies believe that these are extreme times. Certainly, they are difficult and challenging times but let’s look at how we have risen to the occasion.
Doing our best
Our truck drivers are doing their best to supply our stores, our restaurants have set up themselves up to provide more takeout meals, people are working from home, orchestras are practicing together via zoom, business meetings are happening, organizations are providing online workshops and classes and there is more. We will get through this. When? No one knows. Have faith that we will. We are strong, resourceful, innovative, and determined.
In the meantime, please stop hoarding supplies. If we all just buy what we need plus a little extra and have faith that when we need more it will be in our stores, we will all be better equipped.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.
My daughter was worried that she was hoarding because she had done a big trip and filled her pantry. I told her that doing a one-time stock up isn’t hoarding. This is so helpful, and I will share it with her. There is a wisdom in being prepared, but a fear/panic when we start stockpiling beyond our true need. It actually harms the greater good, right? Very timely post, Diane! Stay healthy!!
Thank you, Seana. Yes. I hope that everyone begins to acknowledge that difference between filling a need and being prepared. Than you for sharing this with your daughter. Stay well!
This is such an important reminder (and I love that you’re substituting blogging about one kind of paper for another ;-)). Our Publix is posting signs everywhere letting customers know that certain items are a “limit of two” per customer, and yet still there was no toilet paper or disinfecting wipes yesterday. I don’t know what people are thinking (maybe they’re not thinking at all). Thanks for the encouraging post!
Thank you, Sara. My Publix has the same signs up which have little or no effect. Stay well!
It will be interesting to see post-crisis if the hoarding tendencies that were triggered will continue. Perhaps those that already had those inclinations, will feel justified because they are prepared (really prepared). What you said about our need for control makes so much sense. We are in an extreme time of uncertainty with so much that is beyond our control. So our need to “hunker down,” insert control over, and feel safe in our immediate environment seems like a survivalist instinct. When I was at the market the other day, there was a BIG stock of disinfecting wipes. I’m embarrassed to say that my first thought was to take a lot. But then I paused and only bought two because other people needed them too. Perhaps this feeling of scarcity that some of us are feeling will give us more compassion and visceral understanding of how life is for some regularly. We can share in many ways by deeds (buying just enough and leaving more for others), words, donations, and actions. Be well, and stay healthy.
Thank you, Linda. We CAN share in so many ways and every time we do it not only helps someone else but also ourselves. I always appreciate your contributions here. Stay well!
It is difficult to balance between stocking up and hoarding. The last time I shopped, the pasta shelves were almost depleted. I didn’t need any, so I left it for those who do, but if there’s none next time I may regret that decision. That said, I agree that they’re doing a great job of keeping the supplies in stock, so I’m not too worried about it.
I agree, Janet. It’s a fine line we walk between stocking up and hoarding. I hope there’s pasta on the shelves for you when next you’re looking for it. Stay well!
Great post, Diane! I love the suggestion about sharing supplies if you bought too much.
I purchase stuff in bulk each month or so. I usually have cleaning supplies and paper products at home. So, I didn’t need to buy any paper products recently. When I go to the wholesale store, they have supplies that I need. I leave the grocery store for the perishable like veggies and not purchase those paper products there because I know not many people have a membership at a wholesale store.
Stay safe and healthy.
Thank you, Sabrina! I also buy most of my paper products at a wholesale shop and buy perishables at the grocery store. It’s a real problem for those who are wanting to buy certain things but they aren’t available because some people are buying more than they need. I appreciate your comment. Stay well!
I’ve been tsk-tsking about this hoarding all along, but I felt like I had enough toilet paper, enough hand sanitizer, enough cleaning supplies. Even when the shelves were emptied of bread and milk, as if this were an impending blizzard, I rolled my eyes but knew I’d have enough until everything returned to the shelves. And I’m watching my use of my antibacterial wipes, saving them for when they’re needed more than for convenience. But this week, the panic buying finally impacted my life. Two stores were out of diet Coke. But more was due today.
All of your points are apt; I just hope people listen to your final message. We saw some ugliness and greed a few weeks ago, and of course, there’s and undercurrent of fear among most people. Let’s hope common sense eventually rules.
I also hope they listen, Julie. I have faith that common sense will prevail when we begin to see a light (or a slight flattening of the curve) at the end of the tunnel. Until then, all bets are off. I wonder if this will be a lesson learned.