The world is in a panic. COVID-19 has caught many by surprise and has left people scrambling to find provisions to sustain themselves and their families. Especially with Washington state being ground zero of the outbreak in the United States, we had a shorter time to prepare and brace ourselves for what was already here. However, the interesting part of the response to this pandemic was how people decided what was necessary to buy and what was not. One of the hottest commodities that people were not only buying but hoarding was toilet paper. In an article published by MoneyWise, the top item they listed as unnecessary and a waste of money to hoard was toilet paper (MoneyWise, 2020). However, I remember seeing many empty shelves for the first time and an entire row at Costco that originally housed towers of toilet paper completely gone. One theory that explains the hoarding of unnecessary products states that it comes from the panic of seeing an empty shelf and immediately longing for the item that was originally there (MoneyWise, 2020). As unusual as this response might seem, it’s simply humans copying each other and wanting what others have; an ideal that is not new to society.
This week I was tasked with watching the items discarded by my family and how it has changed due to the current pandemic. As I was eating throughout the week, the assignment lingered in my head and what my waste used to look like versus what it currently is. One thing I noticed is the sudden use of plastic water bottles in my family’s recycling bin. It caught my attention because normally everyone in my family uses some sort of reusable water bottle. We even have an entire cupboard in our kitchen that only has reusable water bottles, mason jars, and reusable straws; yet for some reason is being ignored during this time. Staying hydrated is a requirement of staying healthy in general, however, this just seemed like a wanton disregard for our environment.
I also found three empty jars of Nescafe Instant Coffee, which I wasn’t that surprised to see in the trash. Now that people are in quarantine and many have lots of free time to experiment and try new things, TikTok has grown increasingly popular. And on this app, there was a video posted that showed how to make a drink called ‘Dalgona Coffee’ that is not only aesthetically pleasing but easy to make and delicious to drink. According to a New York Post article, this fluffy whipped coffee was first posted by @iamhannahcho and has since gotten over 3.5 million views (Frishberg, 2020). My family and I are all avid caffeine addicts, and whether it comes in the form of Somali chai tea or coffee, it’s something we consume daily. So with the quarantine orders and minimizing the number of times we leave the house, we were left to make coffee at home every day. Eventually, we got tired of using the coffee appliances we have and decided to try out this drink and have been making it every day since. However, it’s not just my family but thousands of others trying out this drink and now grocery store shelves prove that instant coffee has become another hot commodity. It’s interesting because, although people are in quarantine and a pandemic is killing thousands each day, society is still hooked on getting the lasted trend and staying up to date on what’s new and cool around them.
Frishberg, Hannah. 2020. How To Make Whipped Dalgona Coffee, Tiktok’S Latest Viral Trend. [online] New York Post. Available at: <https://nypost.com/2020/03/26/how-to-make-whipped-dalgona-coffee-tiktoks-latest-viral-trend/> [Accessed 17 April 2020].
MoneyWise. 2020. Don’t Waste Money Hoarding These 20 Items During The Coronavirus Outbreak. [online] Available at: <https://moneywise.com/a/quarantine-items-you-dont-need> [Accessed 17 April 2020].