Toilet Paper is Not the Answer

Standing in line at the local discount store recently, I watched a woman in her late 60s struggle to pile hundreds of rolls of toilet tissue onto her shopping cart. Terrified by the coronavirus, she didn’t know what else to do.

She’s in good company. Stores around the country report running out of toilet paper, cleaners, tissues and sanitizers--almost as fast as they’re vacating their canned goods and powdered eggs.

But is this really the best we can do, faced with the first real test of our national courage since World War II?


Rather than freaking out at the midnight hour when a pandemic, wildfire, power outage or some other crisis strikes, we can create safe and secure homes that are easy to heat and cool, well ventilated, fire and storm resistant, with well stocked pantries and freezers. The resilient home has Net Zero performance, with on-site renewable power and a generator or battery backup to run critical systems such as well pumps, refrigeration and (in extreme climates) cooling or heating.

Let me offer a few examples of how specific items and design elements in a resilient home might reduce crisis anxiety:

  • The resilient home has toilets and appliances that use very little water or energy. It has a clothesline.
  • The resilient home has bidets attached to every toilet. There’s not a roll of toilet paper in the house.
  • The resilient home captures the sun’s energy with photovoltaic panels panels, or it has wind turbines. The power is stored in the electric car in the garage or other battery system. No gasoline available? No problem.
  • The resilient home is Net Zero, with well-integrated ventilation, including self-contained solar attic vents and a sump pump with battery backup.
  • The resilient home is heated and cooled by super-efficient, variable speed heat pump technology.
  • The resilient home, if it has a pool, uses a variable speed filtration pump, capable of low-wattage operation.
  • The resilient home has a metal roof, fiber cement siding, fire suppressing sprinklers indoor and out, and anti-ember soffits. It’s virtually fireproof.

You get the picture. Add a greenhouse garden, a food storage pantry and a couple of chickens, and this house promises a safe and comfortable haven, even during long periods of isolation. If that sounds eccentric or extreme, try the concept on your next clients. I’m betting that given the chance to do something more effective than hoard toilet paper, they’ll thank you for your forward thinking.