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Learn how Ben Sassoon used the Pack to curb panic buying during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students, you amaze us! ✨ While our communities adjust to new routines, students across the globe continue to create innovative solutions to address the problems they’re facing. From Hack Quarantine to virtual graduations, students are using technology to bring people together during this difficult time.
Meet Ben Sassoon, a 21-year-old computer science student in his final year at the University of Birmingham. Like many others, he noticed store shelves that once held food and home essentials were now cleared out from panic buying. In response to what he saw, Ben created How Much Toilet Paper, an online tool that calculates toilet paper usage. The setup is simple: Users input how many rolls of toilet paper they have and how often they use it. The site then calculates how long your supply will last during quarantine.
“We’re aiming to reduce panic buying,” says Ben. “The average user has 500% more toilet paper than they need. Imagine having more than 500% of anything that you need. If we can stop one person from panic buying goods like toilet paper, that gives those who really need it with the opportunity to purchase it.”
The idea was inspired by a joke between Ben and his friend, Sam Harris, about their own toilet paper use. Thanks to the Student Developer Pack, Ben was able to bring How Much Toilet Paper to life in less than an hour. Ben used a number of tools from the Pack in development, including GitHub Pages for hosting, Icons8 and Iconscout for icons, and Weglot to translate, which lowers the language barrier for international users.
Within a day, the site had 500 users and by the next day, users had doubled. They reached one million users globally within five days, and today over three million users have calculated how much toilet paper they need on hand. The site soon gained global attention from the media, and since its creation in March, it’s been featured on some of the world’s most prominent media outlets including CNN, The Verge, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, to name a few.
Ben’s world seemingly changed overnight, and he wants other students to know that this is possible for them too. “There are so many reasons not to do something. It would have been so easy for me to keep this to myself and go about my day. But there’s just as many reasons to go for it. I’m just a student, but it doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone has a chance with the tools that are available now.” Calculate how much toilet paper you need.
Have you built something we should see? Tweet us a link to your project and GitHub repository.