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What NOT To Prep - Part 2

By Stephanie Dayle - via The American Preppers Network

That’s right, I said what "NOT" to prep. This is part 2 in a short series on things I choose not to stock up on - read Part 1 by clicking here. If you have made the decision to start preparing, you are experiencing information overload. When I first started to prepare, I was told and read so much advice on what to prep I came to the conclusion that I should just prep everything! Well later I learned yes, and also no.

Incomplete information distracts those who are new to the concept of prepping from focusing on what will save their lives, doing your own research from different sources helps fill these information gaps. There are always arguments on both sides. Questioning what you read on the internet, and even from me, is a good thing! It may not always be what you want to hear, but it will make you think.

After doing a lot of research and some testing these are items that I have personally chosen not to prep, you may choose differently and that's your right. Always base your preps on common sense, think things through, ask yourself; how will this work in a stressful situation where you will not have the luxury of time? How will this effect your security? Is it sanitary? Will it put your group or yourself at risk?

More Things I don't Prep:

Paper plates and plastic utensils:

Waste will eventually attract vermin 
While I do keep some on hand in my 72 hour kit for short term emergencies, I do not prep paper plates and plastic utensils for long term emergencies. Paper plates and plastic utensils will create a lot of trash, unless there is still garbage service you will have to find somewhere to put your trash. Plastic doesn't break down and even paper will take time to compost. Trash attracts rodents, insects, and other vermin you don't want around your location. 

Flies land on waste then they land on you and/or your food, all around the planet in third world countries this is how sickness and disease is spread. Mice and rats can become a plague, and by the way they can still carry it too. Skunks and raccoons love garbage can transmit rabies, harm your chickens or any other small animals you may have, and in general destroy things you have worked hard for. If you live in a rural area please keep in mind that bears also love garbage. 

The danger of burning
Burning your trash may or may not be an opinion. Most modern wood stoves are not made to burn trash, the features that make them super efficient and "clean burning" will get gummed up with the residue of burning trash as opposed to wood. If you a have an older wood stove (prior to the late 80's) you should be fine burning trash as long as you have a way of keeping your chimney clean. 

In a prolonged worse case scenario burning trash in the open outdoors may not be wise if you do not wish to draw attention to yourself. It also may be too dry to burn safely outdoors. If you accidentally catch your house, the woods, a field or other out building on fire, the fire department may not be able to help you. As history has shown us, when there is no public water service or fire department available, it is completely possible for one person to burn down an entire city or countryside with one simple mistake. 

Learn to conserve water
If you practice washing dishes a little bit now, you will learn that it does not take much water to get the job done. You can even sanitize them in direct sunlight, if you have had to use unfiltered water for washing. Learning to conserve water and practicing water efficient methods of washing dishes, is a better approach for long term emergencies than stocking plastic and paper dinnerware to avoid washing. This will also allow you to use that space to store maybe a little extra water, and to spend your money on more productive items like first aid supplies, soap, and food.

Barter items:  

This is an area of emergency preparedness that is usually explored to prepare for disasters that fall into the category of a "long term emergency". Something that would take down the electrical grid, food service, and government assistance on a large scale for several months or more, like a solar storm. Now, since I know this is something preppers love to stock up on and there are a TON of articles online about cool barter items that one can prep, so before you get upset, read why I don't believe in prepping barter items.

What do you really need?
Someone once said this to me: "Well you can't possibly prep everything, that's why you would barter." I say if you have prepared wisely for yourself and whoever may join you for any disaster, and you have become as self-reliant as possible, hopefully you should not be "in real need" of much. In fact you will appear rich compared to the unprepared. My grandfather who grew up during the depression could tell you exactly how little one needs to survive. The original idea behind 'barter items' is to get things that you 'need' not to accumulate wealth or profit off of others in a time of emergency. I see bartering and commerce as an eventual must - depending on the length of the disaster, and only after things have calmed down somewhat and society adopts a new 'normal'.

In a world where society has collapsed to the point where we are no longer using paper currency, it would be foolish to assume that we will set up this quaint barter system where everyone follows the rules, its safe, and no one gets hurt. Look at New Orleans after Katerina, look at Bosnia (even after a year). History has proven that the "bad guys" don't go away in disaster, they get stronger and more brash. There was no town center farmers market where people went to barter in Bosnia - it was done in secret and people frequently died while trying to acquire things. If you want to read some first hand experiences from someone who lived through a real "long term emergency" check out this blog, and the writings of Selco. Pay close attention to his views on bartering as a result of his experience.

If you do barter, and you do it more frequently than other people in your area, and/or if you have unusually nicer stuff than most, people will start to wonder what else you may have. They may start to think that if you have extra to barter, then you have extra for them to take. It could be a very dangerous activity and it could draw a lot of unwanted attention to you. Especially if you are bartering super high value items like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. 

It won't take long at all for word to get around a small community that you have antibiotics, or booze. Great care will have to be taken that transactions don't go wrong, that you are not followed home. In my opinion - it's not worth the risk unless you absolutely have to - so whatever it is you forgot to prep or ran out of, it had better be pretty danged important for you to go out looking to barter for it.

Public Domain Image

The question of community
Bartering is not the 'only' way to network and create goodwill in your community. If you start networking and bartering *now* in your community you won't have to worry about how to go about approaching people after a disaster. Goodwill can be created by helping others, with honesty, faithfulness, and charity. We don't get to throw charity out the window just because hard times hit, that's when we will all need it the most. I strongly believe that if we preppers are in a position to help, and we can do it safely, then we must help. It could be something as simple as teaching your neighbor how to filter water or as big as taking in your relatives that have mocked your prepping efforts in the past. There will be other options for charity and you will spot them along the way, and then at some point hopefully it will be safe'r' to engage in forms of barter and commerce for common needs and wants.

What about for services?
The exceptions I make for this is 
for use in a Bug Out Bag (when you've essentially become a refuge and may be in need of assistance from others) or bartering for the services of others. For example, perhaps there is a dentist down the road and you need some help with a tooth. In that case, you would need to pay him with something. 

The problem is, you may not have what he wants for payment, meaning that you will have to go find someone else who has the thing he wants and hope you have something that could be traded for it. This is where the danger of bartering doubles and triples and the guessing game of what to prep for barter becomes a little ridiculous.  Without an alternate currency/barter system set up pior to the distaster no one will know what people will really want as trade until it happens. 

Then what should I do?
My advice for those just starting to prepare is to not worry about barter items and just prep the stuff 'you' will need and maybe keep in mind that some things could make better barter items than others so pad the numbers of those items a little. I don't buy things for the sole purpose of "it could be a good barter item." For example, I would never stock up on an item that my family or I  would not use (like cigarettes - I don't smoke, no one else here does either) in my never humble opinion, that kind of purchasing just invites waste. Instead I invest that money in our stock of food and supplies so that if nothing happens, at least we will still likely use it. 

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  1. I've considered the same security issues regarding bartering. It's not something I prep for, but since one of my hobbies is making beer and wine, should it become necessary, I can do it.

  2. We also make beer and wine - I consider it a valuable skill. If anything bad ever happens, people like us will never be poor - right or wrong history has shown, the brewmaster is usually one of the most well fed members of the village.

    I know exactly what you are saying Valerie! Thanks for the comment!


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