Letters to the Editor: Human psychology explains toilet paper hoarding. We might need a law to stop it

No toilet paper at the Alhambra Costco
Shelves for toilet paper and water are barren at the Costco in Alhambra on March 7.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: While well intentioned, Sam Dean’s article on hoarding toilet paper misses the mark.

As a psychotherapist, I’m well aware of what people do when faced with a huge amount of fear and uncertainty — we grasp for something, anything, that is under our control.

Instead of telling consumers what to do, we should be exhorting grocery stores to limit the quantities of hand sanitizer, water and other essentials that each customer can buy. If the grocers won’t do it, then it should be legislated.


Having grocers or, if necessary, legislators stop mass hoarding will be the only way to prevent us human beings from doing what humans naturally do: find safety and comfort in times of crisis through seemingly irrational means.

Jeffrey Chernin, Los Angeles


To the editor: Please stop calling these people hoarders. It’s a pejorative that shows a total lack of understanding of current epidemiological dynamics.

Regardless of whether they are overdoing it or not, the vast majority of these people are simply stocking up on supplies so they can make less frequent outings later. That is exactly what is needed in order to reduce community transmission.

The fewer people who go out and cross paths with other people, the fewer opportunities there are for the virus to jump from one person to another. Risk is reduced for everyone by people being able to stay home more.

Dan Rothman, Fountain Valley



To the editor: Please, when you go to the grocery store, thank those poor workers.

Through this whole mess of the public hoarding toilet paper and water, it has been those poor workers who have made sure our carts are full.

Anybody who actually tries to blame one of these workers because, God forbid, you did not get your 10th pack of toilet paper, shame on you. Take a moment and see how hard they are working to stock the shelves and check out all the customers, even while we are pushing our carts down the aisles like it’s the 405 Freeway during rush hour.

For me, it’s the grocery store worker who is the true hero during this crisis.

Thomas Fertal, Rancho Mission Viejo


To the editor: I grew up in Berlin before and after World War II. I don’t remember even having toilet paper, the kind we use today. Squares of cut-up newspapers were used and served the purpose.

This practice does not kill you. Just don’t throw it all in the toilet bowl.

Read a newspaper then use it as toilet paper or to form triangular bags for your produce. Recycle.

Gabriele Rau, Irvine


To the editor: Supermarkets or stock markets, it appears the 99% can be as greedy and self-serving as the 1%.

Matt Martellari, Valencia