New website calculates whether you have enough toilet paper to last through quarantine

A joke between friends became the basis for

March 27, 2020, 3:37 PM

The coronavirus pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives -- from our health, to our work, to where we go, and what we buy. It’s even effecting our trips to the bathroom.

Georgia-Pacific, the maker of toilet paper brands Angel Soft and Quilted Northern, had to increase production by 20% to meet increased demand. At a grocery store in Australia, a fight broke out over a package of toilet paper. Even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo thinks the problem is getting out of hand.

"There's no reason to buy a hundred rolls of toilet paper. There really isn't," the governor said at a press briefing on the coronavirus earlier this month.

For most of us, a hundred rolls is far too much toilet paper. But if you are running low on that essential bathroom supply, exactly how much should you plan to buy? is a new website aiming to answer that question, says co-founder Ben Sassoon. Sassoon, a student software developer, alongside artist Sam Harris, created the website after joking about how much toilet paper they used.

"When we started this out, it was just kind of a bit of humor between us two," says Sassoon. "We were kind of discussing, just in a jokey manner, how much toilet paper we use each day."

That joke became the basis for

"We thought, tell you what -- maybe it would be interesting to see how much other people are using, and kind of compare it."

The website presents visitors with a series of sliders that can be used to answer questions like how many rolls of toilet paper you have, and how many trips to the bathroom you take on a daily basis.

The website then crunches the numbers to see if your toilet paper stash will be enough to last the full length of the specified quarantine. For example, if a person has 12 rolls of toilet paper in their home, and averages two trips to the bathroom per day, calculates that person will last 192 days, or 914% of a three-week quarantine.

Then users can open a tab labeled "Advanced Options," where they can detail their experience on the toilet "with absolute scientific precision," says Sassoon. Questions in this section range from how many people are in the household, to how many wipes you average per trip to the bathroom.

Although the tool started as a joke, it has produced some interesting findings. For example, the average visitor to the site reports they have five times more toilet paper than they need.

"It's really been eye-opening," says Sassoon.

The website has reportedly seen more than five million visitors since it launched less than two weeks ago. Sassoon says he hopes people take a lesson from their time on the site.

"Even though we started it kind of in a bit of a jokey sense, it has become an educational tool, because people are looking at it and learning that they've got way more than they need."

This report was featured in the Friday, March 27, 2020, episode of ABC News' "Perspective" podcast.

Listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.