Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stuff and more stuff

If you are preparing for peak oil or participating in Verde's 21 Day Prep Challenge, if you've been watching the trainwreck of desparation in Galveston and Houston, or if you simply want to convert your soon-to-be-devalued US Dollars into something worthwhile ;), you may be thinking about stocking up on some stuff.

But WHAT stuff?

After stocking food and water, starting a garden, and obtaining some basic non-electric or solar-powered tools and technologies, stocking up on other stuff becomes important both to ease the transistion into a lower energy world and for bartering for other things that you need.

Here are some questions you might consider as you determine what to buy and store:
  • What items would be most valuable to yourself and those around you?
  • What items are used most often and would run out first?
  • What will be most needed in a world where electricity and oil supplies are unreliable?
  • How many people have the item now, and how many will need it (might stock enough to barter or help others)?
  • What is the shelf life or durability of the item?
  • Can the item be used for many purposes or in different situations?
  • Can I use the item now to decrease my carbon footprint?

Here are some tools and supplies I have purchased:

  1. Sun Ovens (2) - Good for cooking and baking, heating water, and sterilizing water. I use these fairly regularly, and feel I'm getting my money out of them. I recommend the Global Sun Oven over the Tulsi Hybrid.
  2. Rainwater tanks (2) - 850 gallons above-ground capacity. For watering the garden, especially in a drought, or for emergency water in the warm seasons. I use them now to decrease our use of groundwater.
  3. Katadyn water filter - in case the water system is temporarily or permanently incapacitated, or in case we need to flee the area in uncertain conditions. Water is key to survival. Most Americans have never had to worry about water (what a luxury!), but in other countries people frequently sicken and die from bad water. Even though it cost $200 and will last for 39,000 gallons of water, I've considered buying another one as a backup or for family, or in case the emergency lasts that long. Water is just that important. There are other ways to clean water, but this is a sure-fire one, and gets out many pollutants that boiling water can't eliminate.
  4. Country Living grain mill - for grinding the wheat we have stocked. I have also thought we could use it as a neighborhood grain mill to help others, because we will only need it for about an hour every day.
  5. Diva cup and cloth pads - to deal with the monthlies in a sustainable way.
  6. Wonder Clean - to clean small loads of laundry very well. To wash large loads, I'll probably use a bathtub, plunger, and wringer (still to be purchased).
  7. Drying racks and clothespins - for drying clothes.
  8. First Aid Kits (3) - one for each car and for home.
  9. Book library - to learn all the things I don't know about permaculture, crisis preparedness, gardening, cooking, seed-saving, and preserving food.
  10. Coleman camp stove - for emergency cooking during a power outage. Until I get my rocket stove or adobe oven built, I'll have to rely on this, an outdoor grill, and my Sun Ovens for cooking.
  11. Metal gasoline container - for storing an "emergency" 5 gallons in case we need to get out of town and the gas stores are already sold out. Keep in mind the gas is only good for a limited time - you have to rotate it.
  12. Sleeping bags and tents - more multi purpose items. Sleeping bags can keep you warm without heat in the winter. Sleeping bags can be used for guest sleeping (if other quarters are already taken). SB and tent can be used as temporary shelter on the road. SB and tent can be used as summer sleeping quarters outside, and can also be used to house extra guests if needed. Until TSHTF, can be used to provide cheap quarters during vacations - camping anyone?
  13. Solar powered lantern and regular battery powered lantern - Emergency or powerdown lighting. Can also be a safety item. We use these fairly regularly.
  14. Four 6-gallon water containers - For emergency water. This amount of water would really only last the three of us about 5 days at best. I should probably get more.
  15. Bikes - Well, we had these already. But we did get a little kid-carrier for hauling the little guy or possibly light loads.

Here are some things that I am stocking (aside from food and water):

  1. Seeds. The return on investment here is great. Consider how many tomatoes you can get from one tomato plant. Also, they don't take up much room to store.
  2. Liquor. A good multi-purpose item. It can be used to celebrate and entertain, disinfect wounds, and preserve food. Liquor sales also tend to do well in Depressions.
  3. Fire aids. Matches, firestarters, and Coleman Fuel. Also a little firewood for emergency heating. Firestarters would be the best birthday present EVER in a post-peak future.
  4. Containers (including canning supplies). Bottles, buckets, jars, lids, tops. For storing, processing, and transporting food and water, for transporting compost, soil, weeds, and odds and ends, for growing plants, as a portable toilet... the uses are endless. As I read somewhere, "Whole civilizations have been founded on their containers".
  5. Soap and toothpaste. Some of those things that just make you feel human, also good barter items.
  6. Kid clothes. An excellent thrift store near me had their end-of-season sale recently - all the clothes you can get in a bag for $10. I loaded up!
  7. Cash. If electricity or communication lines are down, but you need to buy stuff, best to have cash! In an emergency situation, cash is king.

OK, so I may be addicted to preparing for peak oil. So sue me :). And I haven't even shown you my list of things I still have to buy! I do try to get stuff that I will use "anyway" and that I can get at a bargain price.

I've been preparing for the last three years, and I *usually* make progress every month. If I'm not buying something, I'm trying to learn a skill. If I'm not improving the house somehow (insulation, better windows), I'm planting something in the garden. It takes time, and money, and a lot of headaches trying to figure everything out. I know I haven't gotten there - but I keep at it.

For a more comprehensive list of good stuff to get - this handy link will give you some ideas: 100 Things to Disappear First.


Wendy said...

I've been storing cash, too. My husband thinks I'm a little nutty, though, because I don't think paper money will have much value, but I'm holing out hope that coins, even if the "dollar" value falls, will retain value as "metal." So, I've been buying "gold" dollars ;). The added bonus is that I'm less likely to dip into my cash stash for silly thing, if it's all gold coins ;).

Anyway, glad to see I'm not the only one who has considered that cash may have some value, but be difficult to come by.

MeadowLark said...

I think paper money will only have value for a while, but I intend to have some stored away for those in between times... electricity isn't working, but someone is out there POSITIVE that everything will return to normal. That's when I'm spending!

Hausfrau said...

Does anyone remember the "Banking holiday" FDR declared after the run on the banks began? Cash would be helpful then too...

Just to be clear, I'm not hoarding cash or holding a large portion of our assets in cash in the house. But it is good to have some, just in case.

Verde said...

Ohh my kind of a post. I love to compaire and contrast what others are doing and what others have found helpful (100 things).

I WISH I'd started three years ago - I'd have a water filter by now.

Chile said...

Great recommendations. For the stored gasoline, add a stabilizer. It will keep much better that way.

In the winter, if you are forced to keep your house frosty cold, you can sleep inside your tent in your living room. It will hold in your body heat and keep you warmer.

Kathryn said...

When you're ready to purchase a laundry wringer, try getting one from Kleenrite Corp. (google is your friend) They cater to the carwash industry, and they have the same make and model that Lehman's sells as their "best". When I purchased mine about 5 months ago, it was about $80 less than Lehman's.