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Trash to Treasure: 6 Everyday Items Will Be Worth Their Weight in Gold in an Emergency

Recycling and scrounging are two skills it would behoove you to develop prior to a collapse.

ReadyNutrition Readers, we kicked off an article about metal bins and how to segregate different types of metals for future use.  Emphasis was placed on keeping the metals saved in their original forms, so as to be used in the original manner after forges/metal fabricators were down, post SHTF.  In light of this article, I wanted to touch on a few other avenues of recycling for the times following a collapse.  It is very important to improvise and just as important to learn how to “scrounge,” or gather supplies, so to speak.

Some Trash Will Be More Useful in a Long-Term Emergency

1. Plastic bottles and containers will be worth their weight in gold after an ELE/SHTF event.  For water, you can’t beat Gatorade or Powerade bottles in the 32-ounce size, the latter being my favorite for ergonomic reasons.  The bottles are extremely durable, and at a one-quart size, they are readily set up to decontaminate water.  Remember, with bleach it is 8 drops per gallon; therefore, 2 drops in a one-quart bottle.  They take a freeze really well, too.  Make sure you clean them up really well to remove the sugar from their former beverages.

Can you store water in them?  You bet you can.  Also, keep in mind that water weighs 7.6 lbs. per gallon.  That 5-gallon water can weighs just under 40 lbs., and it can be less cumbersome to move it around even in an equal amount if you have that 5 gallons broken down into 20 Gatorade bottles.  Clean up a bunch of ‘em and store them in a cardboard box; they’ll be good for barter as well.

2. Ziploc bags can be scrubbed out and used again and again.  Remember: what you do now is good practice and training for later.  When electricity is gone, you’re going to need to find new and ingenious methods for preserving and storing your food and protecting it from pests.  Many people like to save their condiment packets from fast food restaurants and the grocery store.  This is good to stock up on as well.  If there’s no refrigeration, how long is a 32 (sorry, they’re 30 ounces now) ounce mayonnaise jar going to last in the summer?  But you can take one of those big plastic “barrels” with snap-on lid and fill them up with condiment packets that can be used as one serving.

3. Paper plates and plasticware – It may not seem important, but the small comfort items will help you get through the tough times.  Save your plastic flatware: forks, knives, and spoons.  What harm is it to place them in a cardboard box and forget about them?  You’ll get use out of them.  Paper plates are not so easy to recycle, but it is good to have a good supply of them on hand.  Same with napkins from those restaurants and grocery stores.  Throw them in gallon Ziploc bags and save them up: for napkins, for backup toilet paper, for fire starter, and plenty of other uses.

4. Soda bottles – Two-liter soda bottles are excellent for storing water, as well.  Clean them up really thoroughly to remove all of the sugared soda before putting your water into them.  Plastic grocery bags are worth saving.  If you followed earlier articles that I wrote on how to set up a home “aid station/hospital,” and how to disinfect water, you’ll remember that a portable toilet is priceless for your preps.  The bucket/pail can be lined with these plastic grocery bags, and the waste taken and burned later.  [Remember, this is post- SHTF].

5. Food containers that come from the grocery store for things such as macaroni salad or potato salad are (on many occasions) just as reliable and sturdy as Tupperware.  After you’re done with the contents, scrub and sanitize them.  Even if you don’t need them now, don’t worry, you’ll need them later, either for yourself or to barter with.  The same holds true with plastic and glass food jars.  You’ll have to gauge them according to your needs and what you think will be practicable later on.

6. Newspaper and telephone books are always useful as fire starting material, and also for insulating material (vs. cold, or heat) in many projects.  Glass is worth saving, as well, especially anything by Pyrex or Corning that can be heated to a high temperature.  Use your imagination.

Read more about 50 ways to re-use your trash

While none of us at ReadyNutrition are advocating or advising “dumpster diving” (you have to check with your local laws and codes first before pursuing such activities), you can often find many valuable materials for construction: wire mesh, lumber, plywood, siding, nails, screws, and other hardware.  It is a mindset that needs to be developed.  It is a form of recycling, and you’re saving money and obtaining something useful for your supplies.

Recycling and scrounging are two skills it would behoove you to develop prior to a collapse.  It is part of our legacy as hunter-gatherers to be able to seek things we need in an opportunistic manner.  We welcome any and all comments, and hope you will take the time to share your own experiences and adventures in these matters.  Until next time, happy “hunting,” and may each day help to hone your skills for the times to come!  JJ out!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on April 6th, 2016

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