When a disaster strikes or the S officially hits the fan, your stockpile will always feel mighty small. You will have no choice but to make the most of what you have.
If it happened tomorrow, could you make it with what you have?
When life turns into every many for himself with looters running the streets you probably won’t be able to make supply runs with Daryl Dixon.
One of the greatest challenges that a survivor has to deal with is stretching their preps so they will last as long as possible.
In the comforts of modern “I can always buy more” life, we throw away valuable items that could be a life saver in tougher times.
Hoarding vs Prepping
Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting you become a hoarder. Just because you could keep it doesn’t always mean you should. Decide what you want to keep and what you don’t need and toss the junk.
Use this simple saying to keep your stockpile from becoming a junk pile. Repeat after me, “Think before you trash it, think before you keep it.“
Ask yourself two questions before throwing something away…
- Can I find a use for this AND will I use it more than once?
- Do I already have a reasonable amount of them saved?
If the answer is YES to #1 and NO to #2, save it. Otherwise throw it away, recycle it, or give it away.
The best part about repurposing items you already buy is that it lets anyone start prepping today with absolutely no budget or prior experience. It is 100% dummy- & budget-proof.
I’ve made a list of the 10 most useful items a good prepper always saves and why you should save each item. I also threw in some protips from my own experience.
Top Ten Items To Save And Why
1. Water and milk jugs, soda and juice bottles – Finding good containers is critical in a bad situation. You WILL have to move water around, and you WILL have to store food. Without an easy way to hold food and water for later use you’ll be hard off.
Protip: Use clean bottles (swish with some bleach and air dry) to store rice, grains, and seeds. It won’t keep for long without oxygen absorbers, so eat it within a week or two. Store in a closet away from light.
2. Medicine bottles – These are perfect for storing tinder or other small survival items. Also handy for homemade medicinal pills or herb storage. Great for storing spices too.
Protip: Put some fishing line, a few small hooks, some weights, and maybe a few lures in a medicine bottle for a simple DIY emergency fishing kit that you can take everywhere. You can even use the bottle as the reel.
3. Broken crayons – They make great candles. Try bundling a few together for a flame big enough to warm food with.
Protip: Chop crayons into small pieces and melt them in an old pot on low heat, mix in other flammable materials and pour them in empty egg cartons to make fire starting tablets that are sure to light under any condition.
4. Newspaper – Use it as a garden mulch, to start fires, to wrap food, to clean your hands and even your dishes (or as a dish!). Newspaper can be folded lengthwise and woven into baskets too.
Protip: Make “paper donuts” that burn up to 30+ minutes for when you don’t have wood available. Soak newspaper and tear it into pulp using your hands. Mix it with shredded leaves or sawdust and use a car jack to compress it into moulds. Make the moulds with a 1″ pvc pipe set inside a 4″ pvc pipe, both should be about 2″ long, placed between two boards. Fill the area between your pvc “donut” with your pulp/leaf mix. Let dry for a couple of days.
5. Old clothes – Turn them into rags, use them to patch your other clothes or sheets, rip them up and make torches, or use them as barter items. Cloth is difficult to make and has a million uses.
Protip: Stretch an old t-shirt over a frame made of sticks or pvc to give lettuce and other veggies some quick shade in the garden.
6. Dryer lint – This stuff makes great tinder, obviously. Mix it with petroleum jelly or cooking grease for a long burning fire starter.
Protip: Dryer lint is very absorbent. If you spill some oil or other liquids, grab a handful of dryer lint to sop up the mess. Don’t try it on a rough surface like a driveway though, it makes a bigger mess.
7. Cooking grease – Most cooking grease and oil can be strained and reused over and over (unless you used it to fry fish). Strain it through some cheese cloth and put it in a mason jar.
Protip: Pour a little cooking grease in a tuna can and use a rolled up napkin or a piece of thick string as a wick. Light it up and enjoy your homemade oil lamp.
8. Egg cartons – Use them to store small items like screws, jewelry findings, and more. They are especially handy when taking something apart with lots of little pieces. Put a few seeds in a cardboard egg carton and lightly water it (set it in a foam carton to catch the drips), set it in your windowsill and enjoy the easiest sprouted seeds you’ve ever made.
Protip: Use a nail to poke holes in the bottom of each section and fill them with soil. It’s an easy way to start seeds indoors for transplanting outside.
9. Cardboard boxes – Seriously, a proper sized box has a million uses. Store your canned veggies and other preps in boxes for better organization and just in case you need to grab and go.
Protip: Cut some hand holds in a box and use it for a basket in the garden. Cut a box into strips and weave it into a hat to keep the sun off your head.
10. Scrap wood – If you have the storage space keep all the wood you get your hands on. So many people burn or throw away small pieces of wood that will be absolutely invaluable come SHTF.
Protip: Don’t try it now, but during SHTF (when the laws of the land no longer apply), hammer some nails through scrap 2×4’s and bury them around your windows, nails up. Give your would-be intruders a sore foot and a second thought about messing with your home.
Common Sense Is Key
Remember, “Think before you trash it, think before you keep it.” Don’t devote a shed to old soda bottles or cardboard boxes, keep a reasonable amount for your situation and storage space. Common sense is your friend here.
Saving stuff you usually throw away is helping yourself, your check book, and the landfill. Pick an item or two on this list and get started this week.