COVID-19 Panic Buying

I’m not sure what the current situation is in other countries, but here in Australia there is currently a wave of Pandemic Panic Buying in the wake of COVID-19 or more commonly known as Coronavirus. Supermarket shelves are being pillaged of essential items such as toilet paper, tissues, paper towel, rice, pasta and eggs (goodness knows why  eggs are in high demand as these are a perishable product!!). Many people seem to be stock piling essential items in case of quarantine requirements or predicted shortages. In light of this, I consider this to be topical to all my fellow minimalists and how we view a situation like this or more importantly how we respond as minimalists to the idea of stockpiling/hoarding.

As a minimalist, the thought of stockpiling several weeks or even several months’ supply of certain products (namely food items) frightens me a little. After all, I’ve been trying to eat down my pantry and freezer not add to it. On the flip side, it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra bits and pieces just in case I’m unable to leave the house for whatever reason. But where do you draw the line? How much is enough? How long is a piece of string? At the moment everything is a gamble. COVID-19 could become a global Pandemic (if declared as such by the World Health Organisation) or on the other end of the spectrum it could just run a short course, fizzle out and that will be that.

This left me with the question- what do I buy?? As a minimalist, I didn’t want to get caught up too much in the mass hysteria of it all (different situation to the post-Christmas sales but same concept) and come home with bags and bags of stuff that could take months or years to use up. In some shopping centers in Australia there were violent scenes in the toilet paper aisles with packs now being limited to a certain number per customer and hand sanitizer being kept behind the counter. I certainly don’t want to then feel that my home is cluttered with food and other necessity items, that’s almost undoing all my previous hard work.

I am a firm believer that most of us here in Australia have more food in our pantries and freezers than what we realise. Some people have thousands of dollars worth of food stored and they just don’t seem to notice. So what did I do? I looked to see what we already had and thought about how long everything might last. We buy rice in bulk because it’s cheaper, so plenty of that to last for months. We have several bags of frozen peas, quite a few packets of pasta, frozen meals, frozen meatballs, frozen bread, some tinned tomatoes and legumes, lots of spreads like Vegemite, peanut butter and jam, several packets of noodles and containers of nuts- just to name a few things. Standing before my non-perishable items I realised I actually had plenty of food and didn’t really need to stock up on much at all. All that food could actually last for months, let alone weeks if we had to be quarantined.

So, for everyone panic buying out there – stop and think for a moment, do you actually need excessive amounts of items? Or do you already have ‘enough’ at home? In which case save yourself the money, and the space and leave it on the shelf. After all, if COVID-19 really does become a global pandemic, running out of loo roll will be the very least of your worries.

How have you  been prepping for COVID-19?