Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile Instead

Ryan Dotson
By Ryan Dotson December 4, 2020 08:37

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile Instead

If you are anything like me, you are constantly looking for ways to improve your stockpile of supplies and gear. I regularly look at different sites and stop into outdoor shops to see what new gadgets have come out recently.

However, some of the most valuable items you can have for survival are free. Yes, I said free! Every day we throw away all kinds of useful stuff that can be repurposed for survival. You just need to know which items to keep and how to use them. In this article we are going to cover all of the junk you throw away that you should be keeping for your survival stockpile.

First, let’s get you in the right mindset. Remember the four pillars of survival are food, water, fire, and shelter. These are the resources that you need to survive for any significant period of time.

When deciding what trash to keep for survival, these areas should be your primary focus. Here are the items that you can save for these purposes and other survival needs:

The Most Common Thing

It is sad to say, but you can almost always find plastic bottles in the wilderness. You also probably throw away or recycle plastic bottles and jugs every day. There are obvious ways to repurpose these for survival like keeping gallon jugs to transport drinking water or to store grains. However, there are lots of purposes you might not have considered.

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile Instead

If you tape a flashlight or headlamp to a large bottle or jug filled with water so the light shines into it, you just made a lantern.

You can turn clear 2 Liter bottles into fish traps. You can use them as a float for fishing or cut out the plastic to make safety glasses.

They work great for water filters. The list goes on and on.

Related: How to Catch Fish with a Jug

Another Useful Item

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile InsteadCans provide a unique opportunity in that you have reflective metal that can be easily cut or torn.

The can could be cut to use as a cooking vessel for water or food. You can use a can to fashion a small stove for heat. You can use the bottom of the can as a reflective surface to start a fire.

The tab can be fashioned into a fish hook. You can even drop a few stones in the bottom and attach it to a trip line for a perimeter warning system. Keep your cans!

Dryer Lint

Most people throw this in the trash at least once a week. Dryer lint makes a great fire starter. Just stuff a toilet paper roll with lint and throw it in your pack.

Egg Cartons

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile InsteadThese are great because they give you a dozen uniform cups, but they are made of paper products or styrafoam. This makes them perfect for things like seed starters. Just add a little soil, plant your seeds, and water.

Related: 13 Genius Seedling Hacks That You’ll Be Glad to Know

You can cut apart the cups and seal two of them together to make a bobber for fishing. Make them into fire starters by stuffing each cup with tinder coated in wax. You can even use them as a candle mold. They work great as ice cube trays, or you can just use them to sort nuts and bolts.

Keep This For Your Survival Stockpile

Cotton by itself does not work great as a fire starter but add a little petroleum jelly and you are in business. Dip all of your used cotton balls in petroleum jelly and put them in a container. They will take a spark and will stay lit for a minute or two even in the rain or wind.

Save Every Piece Of That

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile InsteadAs is with aluminum cans, foil gives you reflective metal that can be torn or formed easily. You can use foil with a battery and some tinder to start a fire.

Foil can be fashioned into a stove or can be formed into shapes that work as a bowl, cup, or plate. Because of its reflective qualities it can be used to signal for help, or you can make a solar oven in direct sunlight.

My mother in law grew up saving every piece of foil they used. It saved them money and gave them a valuable resource.


Got a run in your pantyhose? You can use them to hang up food for it to dry or smoke. You can put human or dog hair in them and hang them around your garden to keep animals away. They work great to prevent blisters when hiking. When twisted and pulled tight, they can work well for a tourniquet. They are an excellent addition to your homemade water filter. You can even use them as a dust mask.

Related: 20 Foods You Can Preserve in Pantyhose

The Best Item To Keep

Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile InsteadWe have been saving bacon grease in a jar by the sink as long as I can remember. It can be reused for cooking instead of using butter or oil and has better flavor in my opinion. You can also use it to lubricate metal parts or to preserve other foods. Just put a layer on anything you want to preserve, and it will seal the air out.

You can use it to season cast iron pan, make soap, or condition and waterproof your leather boots. It can be filtered and used as biodiesel to fuel a vehicle or generator. You can use it to make a candle or fire starter. Never throw away bacon grease.

Altoids Tins

The great thing about these tins is that they fit in your pocket and are waterproof. They work great to store a fishing kit or first aid kit. If you punch a small hole in the lid and fill it with small pieces of cotton cloth, you can throw it in the fire and make char cloth.  I also use mine for a fire starting kit with char cloth, a ferro rod, a magnifying lens, and some waterproof tinder. You can use them to form candles or make an alcohol stove.


Things You Throw Away That You Should Add To Your Stockpile Instead

If you have a charcoal grill, a smoker, or a fireplace you probably dispose of a good amount of soot. You might think this is a nuisance, but it can be used again. Soot makes a great toothpaste in a pinch. It can be swallowed with some water to settle your stomach and even works if you accidently ate something poisonous.

It makes for good camouflage on your face and hands, especially at night. You can rub it on yourself or put it in your boots to help absorb odors.

If you have an open wound in the wild, it is prone to infection. Pack some soot over the wound and wrap it to draw out moisture and alleviate the infection. If you get a poison ivy rash or get stung by any poisonous bug you can apply soot to draw out the toxin.

You can even use the bigger chunks in a water filter to draw impurities out of the water. Just be sure nothing toxic was burned in the fire like plastic.

As you can see there are tons of uses for the trash we throw away every day. Post this list by your trash can or recycle bin to help remind you of items you should save. Over time you will build up a stockpile that will give you a huge advantage in a survival situation.

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Ryan Dotson
By Ryan Dotson December 4, 2020 08:37
Write a comment


  1. Misunderstood December 4, 15:03

    Very insightful information. Thanks for helping wake me up. I have saved some of these items already, only because of doing so growing up, but am constantly ridiculed by others and misunderstood. I look forward to reading more!

    Reply to this comment
    • Silvercoal December 5, 01:21

      A lot of those folks who are ridiculing and misunderstanding what some of us here do will be the first ones coming to you for help when a catastrophe hits. My advice is “loose lips sink ships”, ie keep your preparations to yourself, and everyone will be happy. Take care,

      Reply to this comment
  2. Christine December 4, 15:22

    we get the big plastic buckets and pour buckets of kitty litter and use them for water, feed, all kinds of things. Tidy cat makes some nice ones.

    Reply to this comment
    • Berad199 December 4, 15:30

      If you have chickens or other live stock and get feed bags, save the string from both ends. I don’t know what they re made of but they are strong enough to slice your hand if you try to break them. I posted this in another link, but I still stand by not tossing them out.

      Reply to this comment
      • JD December 7, 06:49

        Go to a local market or a Walmart, their kitchens will give you the food grade 5 gal buckets with lids. Talk with a manager about getting them for free.

        Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck December 4, 17:04

    Six 1-liter beverage bottles with the lids screwed on tight under a garment, three front and three back will serve as a personal flotation device. Four of the same, two front and two back will float a child.

    You insert the bottles with the top up under a garment big enough to be able to insert that many bottles and then tie a rope around the bottom of the garment. If you have a big enough belt you can use a belt to secure the bottom.

    You can also use bottles to make a flotation device for Fido. Put a garment over Fido’s head, insert the bottles neither side of Fido and fasten the bottom of the garment.

    A T-shirt works well for this exercise for both man and beast and won’t absorb so much water as to counter the flotation ability of the bottles.

    This survival tip was brought to you courtesy of Japan National Televison (NHK) and is just one of the many survival/disaster tips that they broadcast on a daily basis for the citizens of Japan.

    Soot contains a carcinogen. Did you ever hear of Chimney Sweep’s syndrome? It is cancer of the scrotum and associated organs from the carcinogen in chimney soot. Not so common these days as folks who work as chimney sweeps are well aware of it and take precautions.

    I would be circumspect in the application of soot to my body.

    My father used to burn the end of a cork and put Vasoline on my face and then rub the soot from the end of the cork on my face for Halloween. Nobody bought costumes at the store in those days. There was a war on and material was being used for uniforms for our men and women in the military service. The Vasoline made removal of the burnt cork residue easy at the end of the evening. That was a once a year exercise for just a few hours.

    Before one could buy sight blackener in a bottle or spray can, on the firing line of most Marine Corps bases they kept a carbide lamp. The soot from the carbide lamp flame was used to blacken sights. Any sooty flame will serve the same purpose today. Be careful not to get the sights so hot as to warp them. You will never get on target with warped sights.

    Reply to this comment
    • IvyMike December 4, 20:37

      Been trying to get on target with warped sights for a long time…

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck December 5, 04:23

        Mike: I know it shouldn’t be necessary to warn folks that they should use flame to only blacken front sights, not heat them to glowing red. However, I had just finished reading a post on another site wherein the poster said the after an EMP things would be back to normal in two to three months and we would be sailing along on moonlight bay. So, I felt perhaps an unnecessary warning was necessary. You know, like the warning on the windshield shade, “Do not drive automobile with shade in place”?

        My wife was really enraged, a state I almost never saw her in when she read that a county employee who had been fired for repeatedly sleeping while at her desk was reinstated by the personnel board because, apparently, the employee handbook did not advise against sleeping while on the job at one’s duty station.

        Ahh, the Peepuls’ Republic, gotta love it. If you don’t, it will drive you crazy. Well, it may drive you crazy no matter how much you might love the state without its idiots.

        Reply to this comment
  4. left coast chuck December 4, 19:11

    In comments to an earlier article that advocated putting cooking grease on metal parts as a preservative, I would once again point out that cooking grease, especially bacon grease which is the tastiest contains significant amounts of salt. Salt and metal products just don’t mix well, Salt will corrode almost any metal in common usage, even aluminum. If you have ever had a boat that you took in the ocean or salty water, you will know what I reference.

    I would strongly advise not using cooking grease, especially bacon grease on any metal products. You want to wake up to an instantly rust coated firearm? Smear it with cooking grease.

    In addition, as folks who co-habit with porcupines know, salt flavored articles left outside overnight attract all kinds of animal life. A porcupine will destroy that broken-in pair of Donner boots that set you back a couple of bills overnight. Your gloves are missing. You know you left them by the axe stuck in the chopping block which has some interesting damage done to the handle. Porky Porcupine has visited you last night. Or maybe Willy Woodchuck or Bernard Beaver all of whom favor a salty snack. And that’s just the salt in your sweat. Now consider that you add the smokey flavor of bacon and see how fast your stuff get gnawed on overnight.

    In addition, although I can’t state it as a positive fact, I have the feeling that salt in grease, rather than preserving leather, hastens its end of life. That’s why you clean the sweat off harness leather with saddle soap before putting it away.

    Folks from the 18th century, while they were certainly life wise, lacked a significant knowledge of the elements and the reason for their interaction with other elements. The 18th century was the age of discovery of elemental chemistry interactions. Many elements were first discovered in the 18th century, but that knowledge didn’t extend to the vast majority whose reading mainly consisted of the Bible and a few classics.

    While the press was invented much earlier than the 18th century, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the Fourdrinier paper making machine was invented that allowed for the reduction in the cost of books that made them available to middle class folks. Remember the fables of Abe Lincoln borrowing books and returning them?

    Reply to this comment
    • Mailpouch December 6, 03:47

      Back when I hunted with a muzzleloader I lubed the balls/bullets with Crisco. Seemed to work ok for me.
      During the Vietnam War era we used a gun lube named LSA. I bought some from Sportsman’s Guide a while back. I’ve always liked it too.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck December 6, 18:57

        Yes, but after firing your muzzleloader you throughly cleaned it with hot soapy water and then cleaned it again the next day. That effectively removed the Crisco from the bore. You didn’t then lube the firearm with Crisco, you used regular gun preservative for storing your muzzleloader until the next shooting session. This author is talking about lubing your firearm with, not artificial Crisco with all those strange chemicals that no one knows, but with the grease collected off the stove top which for my household is mostly bacon grease or sausage grease, both of which have a high salt content.

        I try to avoid buying meat with a high fat content. It looks cheap when one just looks at the price per pound, but it is my opinion that it costs the same or is more expensive when one considers that the fat one is buying is then rendered down to be thrown away or used in some fashion other than food unless added to baking products or used in place of purchased oils.

        Lard which is rendered sheep or pork fat is not made from salted meat. Pure lard is different from a variety of fat collected from stovetop cooking. That’s why I suggested that our ancestors who used rendered bear fat were using a different product from what we have today. Shoot a bear just in the fall just before he goes to den for the winter is shooting an animal that has stored away pounds of pure fat that can be rendered down into — I don’t know if there is a separate name for rendered bear fat. It would be similar to rendered pork belly lard from unsalted pork meat.

        As Wildartist said in his experience using lard on leather goods rather than neatsfoot oil or saddle soap makes them attractive to rodents. It may be after the end of the world as we know it we are compelled to use animal fats for lubricant until we can get our oil industries back up and running again. So it will be a trade-off. But rather than use just g.p. fat off the stove top, I would try rendering bear fat but limit its use to non-human applications or rendering pig fat. In an end of the world scenario, we are still going to have a plethora of pigs in at least the southern part of the country and with an abundance of dead human bodies for easy pickings, the bear population may come back significantly. In non-bear hunting states such as the PDRK, the bear population will soon have a more aggressive interface than it presently does. It is possible to hunt bear in the PDRK, but not over food pile and not by chase with hounds but by the stalk method only. That’s why the number of bear tags sold in the state has dropped dramatically. The Fish&Game folks can’t seem to connect that a major part of their budget came not from fines but from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. They also can’t connect the fact that each time more restrictions are placed on hunting fewer licenses are taken out

        I used to buy a hunting license just so I would have it handy in case something came up. Then as the price of a license plus all the stamps and tags grew more expensive I started buying a license only if I had a specific hunt already planned and always waited until the last minuted in case the plans changed. I haven’t bought a license in over ten years currently and unless the hunting and fishing regs change dramatically, I probably won’t buy a PDRK hunting or fishing license in my remaining time in this state. I think my mind set is similar to many other former hunters.

        Well, got a little off topic there so will pick up my soapbox and stalk off. (Bad pun intended)

        Reply to this comment
        • Mailpouch December 7, 03:11

          Ya don’t say! I didn’t say anything about putting Crisco on metal parts…just bullets…matter of fact I didn’t see any where the author said to put bacon grease on gun or gun parts…the author just said metal. Your the one that wrote about putting salty bacon grease on a firearm. I did mention a gun oil/lube I like…LSA. I never bothered to identify the strange chemicals in LSA or Crisco for that matter. I’ve never used gun oil/lube on cast iron cook ware but I have used Crisco to season it…hasn’t killed me yet.
          I know where lard and tallow comes from. I have a friend who killed a wild hog once. It was so big they had to wench it onto the trailer. The packing house said it weighed over 500 pounds. They rendered several gallon containers of lard.
          Bear grease was used by Indians to season bows and to seal out the elements. I’ve read that over time Osage Orange bows of the Cherokee would turn black from putting bear grease on them. Some have been found that were believed to be more than 100 years old.
          Some states sell combination lifetime hunting and fishing license. If a young person plans to hunt and fish most of their life these are a good thing to invest in. In our state the license is good even if they buy one and then move from that state. I got mine about 50 years ago. It’s more than paid for itself many times compared to buying license and tags annually. The price today is about 4 times higher than when I got mine but still a bargain.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck December 7, 05:39

            Mailpouch: Not to get into a nit picky, but wasn’t your barrel that you rammed those bullets down steel, a metal? Wasn’t the object of using Crisco to loosen the fouling down the length of the barrel so you could continue to ram those bullets down your steel barrel? That Crisco didn’t all stay right at the muzzle, it went down the bore and rubbed off on the fouling which was stuck to the metal of the barrel.

            Yes, the author said, “metal” without any differentiation. I tried, perhaps inartfully, to point out that if you are using bacon grease as the article seems to be espousing, the salt in the bacon grease will have a deleterious effect on metal due to the salt in the grease. In an end of the world situation what is the most likely thing we will be lubing with grease? Your automobile? Not if it ain’t running. A rusty nut? Okay, but if you put salty grease on it the next time you come back to crank it open it will really be rusty. Lube your rifle which you need to hunt with and to defend your family with? Well, that just might ruin what you are staking your life on.

            I agree that Indians and early settlers used bear grease for a variety of purposes. I speculated that perhaps the bear grease wasn’t polluted by the bears’ feeding on human garbage and other substances found in land fills and unlocked dumpsters and trash cans behind all sorts of business using all sorts of chemicals. Perhaps not clearly enough to make my point.

            And I speculated that we may be forced to use bear grease once again when our access to refined petroleum products is gone.

            Some states have very enlightened fish and game policies. For years fishing and hunting organizations have tried to get the PDRK to change its policy to issue licenses year round with the expiration date one year from the issue date. They do it with millions of license plates for automobiles but for some reason the F&G people have resisted that sensible change for decades. Currently if you buy a fishing license in December to go crabbing or to try your hand at catching lobsters with your progeny, come the first of January that license is dead, dead, dead. Same thing with hunting. Your kid has become interested in turkey hunting due to a seminar about it that you took her to. She wants to try the spring turkey hunt. The license you bought for the two of you is like last year’s newspaper on the first of July. The upland game tags you bought for the two of you are also last year’s newspaper too.

            The PDRK does have very expensive “lifetime” hunting licenses. In my opinion, only an extreme optimist would buy one for his grandchild. At the rate the bambiests are going there won’t be any hunting or fishing by the time the grandchild is old enough to participate in the sport.

            One used to be able to hunt feral pigs in this state with just a hunting license. Then you had to get tags. They were free but you could only get five at a time and you had to report where you took the pigs. Now you have to pay for the tags for pigs and still report where you took them.

            Every year the cost goes up and the sale of licenses goes down. By the time my grandkids have kids only Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will be able to afford to hunt in the PDRK.

            Reply to this comment
            • Mailpouch December 7, 15:46

              Ya got me there Chuck…the barrel is metal…so is the round ball or conical bullet I rammed down the barrel. The cloth patch was the only thing I put the Crisco on…I didn’t smear it all over the gun…You’re probably right about loosening the fouling in the barrel but the main reason I used Crisco was that it sure made it easier to ram that cloth patched round ball down the barrel. It was next to impossible to ram a dry cloth patched round ball down the barrel. Matter of fact even with using Crisco as a patch lube, after about 8 shots, the barrel had to be cleaned because the fouling inside the barrel was enough that a ball couldn’t be rammed down the barrel.
              I never have been accused of being an extreme optimist before…lol…but I certainly have been accused of being a pessimist…I got my lifetime license because it just seemed practical since I enjoyed hunting and fishing and planned to do it as long as I was able. I started taking my son to the woods with me when he was about 4 or 5 years old. I didn’t do it to MAKE him a hunter. I guess it was selfish of me but I did it so he could learn to enjoy being outside and enjoy nature. He’s done the same with his 3 sons. I’m a firm believer that fresh air & sunshine are about the healthiest thing a person can experience. I guess some of the hunting thing must have took root in my son because he’s a very successful hunter and fisherman as are his three sons. My son and 2 of his sons have lifetime hunting and fishing license…again because it was just economically practical. The third grandson won’t need to buy the license because the Cherokee Nation now sends license to their tribal citizens each year.
              I know we are very fortunate to have places to hunt and fish. Some places are on private land and some are on government public land.
              I once believed interest in hunting and fishing was dying but not any more. I’m encouraged today by the number of young people who are hunting and fishing and learning to enjoy the outdoors. I hope those skills never become a necessity but like I’ve said I’m a pessimist and believe we may have to rely on them again some day soon to survive.

              Reply to this comment
        • Tealady77 December 7, 04:13

          Hi LCC,
          Apologies, I am pretty new to the preppers community and don’t know the lingo, especially acronyms. What is PDRK, please? Some things I have figured out, but this one stumps me.
          I enjoy these articles and your comments. I’ve learned a great deal in my short time here, and have a TON left to learn. More than enjoy the articles and all the comments, though, I NEED this knowledge. I have started slowly, but I have started. Thank you all for sharing knowledge with this 65 year old.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck December 7, 05:10

            TeaLady: PDRK is my acronym for the Peepuls Dimokratik Republic of Kallyforniya. It is what happens when there is only one party to vote for. It has taken the lead in what is happening all over the country where the cities attract socialists and outnumber rural folk. Numerically, most of the counties in Kallyforniya are red on the voting map, yet the urban areas, LA and environs, SF and the packed masses in that area, even some of the big cities in the central valley are all blue and because they outnumber the red counties population wise, they rule the state. I won’t go into my usual diatribe about what has happened to this state since I first landed here after getting out of the USMC, but in those 60 years, the state has become a third world country.

            I could rant on for pages and pages and it wouldn’t change a thing, so I won’t go any further. Family circumstances prevent me from leaving but should those circumstances change, there will be a flash of white and a cloud of dust but no Hi Ho Silver, it will be me in a U-Haul truck — if I can rent one. I understand one way U-Haul rentals are very scarce these days in the PDRK. You can get one dirt cheap coming into the PDRK but they are scarce going out.

            Welcome aboard. I hope you are able to glean valuable advice from following this list. There is some ranting from discontents like me, but there is also a lot of good advice from folks who have actually walked the walk as opposed to just talked about it. Obviously none of us have experienced a High Altitude Electromagnet Pulse nor an X class Coronal Mass Ejection, so most of those discussions are theoretical, based on our limited knowledge about them.

            I would urge you to think carefully about what is posted here and on every similar website. First think about whether the writer has listed his expertise for the opinion. Then think about the opinion in light of your own life experience. If there really is a cure-all drug, why aren’t we all taking it instead of spending tons of money on manufactured drugs? Is the recipe accurate? You know when you bake a cake you don’t take a handful of flour and a glob of shortening with several heavy sprinkles of sugar and a couple, three eggs and kinda mix it up and stick it in the oven until it smells good. A recipe for a simple commodity such a bread has precise quantities of the ingredients, exact temperatures and times for baking.

            So if someone mentions a miracle plant where you take some leaves and brew it in some water for a while and it is going to cure everything from shingles to cancer. Be wary/

            There are so many things touted as “inhibiting cancer” or “preventing cancer.” If it is so wonderful, why does the touter never mention what kind of cancer? Brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia. Just what kind of cancer is it purported to cure? Or is it so miraculous that it cures all cancers?

            It’s good to know folk medicines and what they treat but look for precise quantities as opposed to what they generally are, very vague in detail.

            Be especially careful about concrete pronouncements about what effect the two electromagnetic events I mentioned will have on life as we know it. Some have stated positively that a coronal mass ejection will have no effect on automobiles. If any one has done any testing of that, they have been silent about the results of their test.

            Others have stated positively that the armed services have undertaken to harden all their equipment against such events. That’s not my understanding. I understand they are attempting to do so, but there is lots of old equipment still being used that can’t be updated.

            I hope you will find this list helpful in your preparations. There is a survival expert whose motto is, “Not If, But When.” With an X class coronal mass ejection, that is absolutely the case, What will its effects be on the U.S. and will any of us still be alive when that event occurs? If I knew the answer to those questions, I would be richer than Elon Musk.

            Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck December 7, 05:44

            And don’t let curmudgeons like me scare you away. Every once in a while we get off our soap boxes and slip in a tidbit of real information most of the time gained from that school that most of us seem to never graduate from, The School of Experience.

            Tom, What’shisname, the CEO of Motel Six is reputed to have said, the difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test that teaches you a lesson.

            I would add “that hopefully teaches you a lesson.” Some of us have had to learn the same darned lesson over and over again.

            It’s less painful if we can learn from the experience of others who have trod the path before us.

            Reply to this comment
            • Mr. Eman December 12, 20:37

              Mr.Eman says,, A wise man learns from the mistakes of others instead of make them his self.

              Reply to this comment
              • red December 13, 12:59

                Mr.: Tell that to teenage boys. When one would yell at me “YOU did it, so why shouldn’t I?” I say because I did it and regretted that mistake is why, and this is what happened. good advice from you and LCC. niio

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    • Cc December 13, 09:31

      We save water bottles for filling with sand ,the square ones can become building blocks. An a good way to hide the fact you are digging underneath something, or you can fill with compost for planning. GOD BLESS FROM CHRISTMAS VALLEY OREGON

      Reply to this comment
  5. Miss Kitty December 4, 19:24

    I save any plastic food containers – tubs from cottage cheese, plastic beverage bottles, coffee “cans”. These can all be washed out and used as food safe storage until they get too nasty or worn out, then you can discard them without feeling guilty.
    Tic tac boxes are great for storing small items like needles and pins, beads, small quantities of loose tobacco, etc. A piece of scotch tape will secure the flap if it’s loose.
    Magazines and catalogues can be used for craft projects and collages – even tp if you run out. (Squish the pages until they are soft.)
    Newspapers can be used for crafts, additional insulation in a cooler or in the soles of your shoes. You can also stuff sheets of newsprint in your clothing to insulate your torso.

    Reply to this comment
    • chip December 4, 23:33

      Mayo, jelly plastic jars make good screws etc soritng.
      Big Peanut butter plastic jar make good rice storage when it rotates out of the freezer.
      Plastic jars make good cat food storage, near their preferred feeding spot. Easier than the 40# bag.

      Reply to this comment
    • jrg December 5, 04:52

      Plastic coffee cans are very handy. Stackable that fit in a corner or under a car seat. We’ve used them for concrete work, making a good fence post anchor and carry to post hole, rather than pour at each hole .

      Store sealed food items safe from outside sources. The older metal cans were often made into cooking or heating water pots

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck December 5, 17:27

        Costco’s house brand 3-pound coffee can is still metal sides and bottom. Plastic top but that’s okay if you are not using it for heating purposes. As far as I know, it is the only true 3-pound container of coffee on the market. There may be other house brands that I am not aware of.

        Reply to this comment
        • Miss Kitty December 5, 18:36

          LLC: Chock full o nuts small cans are also all metal – I have two saved that I plan to use for baking fruitcake. The lids (and booze!) will help keep them fresh, and the smaller size will be more practical.

          Reply to this comment
          • red December 6, 02:26

            Miz Kitty: Yes, Mom, I saved aaaaall the metal coffee cans just for you 🙂
            When cleaning the freezer, I found a can of fruitcake. I was always iffy about it, and this was there well over a year. It was still moist, and hating to waste food, tried it. Wow, that was good. After that, every one got buried deep for a year. Yes, Mom always made tons of it but I never understood till that freezer incident why people raved about it. Beauty grows with age. BTW, I found and got a Wedgewood kitchen range from the 50s. No more warped pans on the ‘f-ing’ electric range! Now to dig out the vacuum coffeepot and make gourmet coffee, again.

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            • Miss Kitty December 6, 17:18

              😁 Somehow Red, I get the feeling that the coffee can business goes waaayyy back in your fam…too funny!
              This will be my first time making fruitcake, but I have the candied fruit and the booze…(I thought I would try black rum – as a preservative of course! I know brandy is “traditional” but I don’t care for it.) I should have made it earlier in the year, but it should still be good if I make it now… it’ll have a couple of weeks to age before Christmas. That’s my Christmas project this week, along with putting up a few decorations and writing cards. I’ll have to be really selective as the cat is into EVERYTHING and will likely destroy some of the more fragile pieces. Bobby’s HUGE (nine pounds at only seven months!?!) and likes to sleep where I put the new tree last year, so it will stay packed away so he can’t chew the wires and eat the tinsel. I may give it away next year if it is still a problem but it was a gift so I’ll have to be subtle. (Not one of my strong suits.)

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              • red December 6, 21:34

                Miz Kitty: I think my great-grandmother was doing that well before my grandmother was born. 🙂 Fun way to recycle coffee cans. I have a good coffee grinder and prefer to buy coffee in 20 kilogram sacks when I can get to Mexico. I think it was a dollar a kilo for roasted organic last year. Organic means let the brush grow up around the trees till enar harvest, then go in and chop down the brush. That’s about all they do.

                To keep house cats out of the tree, place house cats outside the house! Or, I think Mom put a little ammonia in a pint of water and sprayed the tree. Donno how much, but I hear it makes a good shark repellent, so it might work with cats too 🙂

                I came across a funny one. Picture a Christmas tree ornament. Caption, last thing an ornament sees before it dies. Reflected in the ornament is a cat staring at it. niio

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                • Miss Kitty December 7, 01:47

                  I don’t do live trees…to me it’s a waste. If I want the fresh scent of pine I have a friend who will happily save some branches when she prunes… or I’ll use pine sol to wash my floors.
                  No, we’ve done fake trees since before I was born…. mostly as an economy measure. Buy a fake tree on sale after Christmas, use it for fifteen-twenty years, replace it when it gets too messed up. And no messy needles getting stuck in the carpet pile for you to step on the one time you decide to walk through the living room barefoot! 🎄😁

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                  • red December 7, 15:11

                    Miz Kitty. No tree in the house here. We did live trees when we raised them. Following an old tradition, the tree was taken out New Year’s Eve and burned. there’s a ponderosa close to 70 years old in the yard, and that’s plenty for us. I’m not going to ‘burn’ 50 bucks for a tree we used to sell for 2. A lot of folks are buying Norfolk Island pines and keep it as a house plant. niio

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  6. Chuck December 4, 20:27

    leaves, chips, egg shells,etc for compost should be added…..

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  7. Roy December 4, 20:58

    Good info I never considered! I recycled plastic until my town quit taking it and now it goes into the landfill trash. I’ll now save all the useful stuff until I run out of room….

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  8. ST December 4, 22:23

    A certain size of pill bottles is the perfect height to hold a couple of dozen swabs.
    A bin of empty cans tied to a tripwire makes a bigger racket than a single can with a pebble.
    Thread a small piece of brightly-colored exercise band onto a long ziptie. Make a small loop with the ziptie. You know have a free chamber flag. I have a single piece of old band, and I can make more flags than I can ever use.
    I truly hate throwing away even the smallest piece of lumber. If you know, then you know.
    Nuts and short, thick bolts or screws that are too damaged for use make so-so slingshot ammo.

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    • left coast chuck December 5, 00:12

      I buy neon colored zip ties just for that purpose. I started having them at the range when I was rangemaster for the folks who did not understand “clear and bench all weapons.”

      It was a lot easier to look for the neon colored zip ties than it was to have to step up to the firing position and physically check the chamber of each piece on the bench.

      Now that is part of the rangemaster’s kit for our local gun club.

      They will even fit in the ejection port of a .22 auto pistol.

      You can buy neon colored zip ties from any number of industrial supply places. I think even Harbor Freight carries the short ones.

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      • ST December 5, 02:16

        left coast chuck;
        I did want to use bright orange or red zipties but couldn’t find packs of less than 100. Couldn’t justify buying that many when I’ve already got a drawerful of black and white. Would look better, though!

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck December 5, 04:12

          ST: I agree. One does have to buy 100. However, the cost is so minimal for my lifetime supply and that of my heirs I just couldn’t let a bargain like that go by.

          Also at the range on public shoot day when all the wannabe Rambos are up there, 100 zip ties only lasts a couple of months and it was a lot cheaper than the standard chamber flags that I bought at 85¢ each. I haven’t bought any since I bought the original 100 but it seems to me they were like $5 for the 100. Perhaps I am a bit low but I also have a 20% off coupon for Harbor Freight. I never buy anything at Harbor Freight without the 20% off coupon.

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  9. City Chick December 4, 22:40

    A light application of fire place wood ash makes a good fertilizer for acid loving plants. Lilacs here love it!

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 5, 04:16

      CC: I understand that wood ash also keeps snails and slugs from munching on tender leaves of plants one would rather not have munched. Apparently they don’t like the way it feels on their slimy feet. Query: Do snails and slugs actually have little tiny slimy feet?

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      • red December 5, 07:20

        LCC: One foot each 🙂 Salt works better with less chance of damage to plants. No lye in salt. Farmers in the east used to lay out 100 lbs per acre of sea salt each spring. niio

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        • left coast chuck December 5, 17:33

          Red: Doesn’t salt kill plants? I use salt in my “organic” weed killer. The Romans salted the fields of Carthage after they destroyed the town so that nothing would grow for years.

          Colorado River water has a lot of dissolved salts in it and it is not really good to irrigate with you can see the dried salt on the earth after you have watered with it. It is what the City of LA uses as part of its water supply.

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      • City Chick December 5, 18:49

        LCC- Gee, Good question! I have absolutely no idea if slugs have feet. Maybe they have little suction cups. Next time one shows up around here I’ll take a look and let you know. Local eco folks to busy buzzing about the new kids in town to think about slugs. We now have mating pairs of coyotes on Northwestern Long Island. They moved out to Long Island from the Borough of Queens.

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        • left coast chuck December 5, 23:00

          CC: Well, in about four months or so you will have a pack of song dogs. We have quite a bit of undeveloped land about a quarter mile form our house that backs up to the national forest, so there are song dogs up there and we sometimes see them slinking about the neighborhood.

          They are not hunted, so while they mostly avoid humans, they are not afraid of them and one of these days some little toddler playing in her back yard is going to get attacked by one.

          While sort of on the topic of hunting, I just started to read a series of articles about Air Force (brand name) big bore air rifles. They have one in .458 that someone braver than I used to take a full grown bison. The “pellet” went clear through the animal. You can find it on if you would like to read about serious caliber air rifles. The .458 has three shots in its 3500psi tank before one must pump it up again.

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          • City Chick December 6, 03:04

            LCC- We have plenty of small game and deer on LI in that area which should keep them well fed too! Bison ranches here are down the road and further out east. I can’t imagine them being hunted down by a pack of song dogs anymore than I would be able to hunt one down for diner tonight.

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        • red December 6, 02:45

          CC: They moved out to long Island from Queens. there’s a joke in there, somewhere… 🙂
          Where Coyote is, evil follows. Eater of soils, eater of infants. After the Bighorn fires, we had a lot more coyotes around then usual. Stray dogs and cats disappeared. this wasn’t the usual lure a dog into the cactus and kill it, but attacks on the streets.
          then we lucked out and a mountain lion showed up. All coyotes disappeared. Lions eat coyotes. Then the bobcat came to town and the lion ran off. She stuck to packrats and ground squirrels after trying to get into a chicken pen. She’s gone and the coyotes are back. Now the lion was spotted ten miles away and is heading here and silence is golden–no rat-dogs singing death in the evening. If you need to borrow our kitty, just bring a very, very big kitty carrier. Won’t NYC be pleased to know the catamounts are home, again 🙂 niio

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          • City Chick December 6, 05:13

            Red – I kid you not. They’ve been here for some years now. City even put flags out on street lamps “Make way for Wildlife” with a picture of old Wiley Coyote. Now, they’ve followed the train tracks out east. So far, mountain lions have been only spotted in lower Connecticut. Guess they don’t have an Easy-pass to get over the bridge and don’t want to take the train.

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            • red December 6, 16:49

              CC: Yeah, LOL. Son-in-law lives in Brooklyn. Cuomo’s dada replied to complaints of deer with broken legs found by hunters by breeding a super coyote. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and educating people about wolves, he had coyote crossed with large dogs and back to coyote. They released them in upstate and now they can be found in Philly and into Virgina. Not to fear, NYC has bobcats. What do you think keeps the population of coyotes down? 🙂 niio

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    • Miss Kitty December 6, 17:24

      I know a lot of people compost used coffee grounds…I wonder if they would be good for your lilacs?

      Reply to this comment
      • City Chick December 6, 20:57

        Do that too Miss Kitty especially with the yews, hemlocks and other evergreens and the daffodils get egg shells! Almost a complete breakfast!

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      • red December 6, 21:37

        Miz Kitty: Best thing for lilacs is a deep wood chip mulch. the bush will sucker like crazy. I don’t know how many bushes I saved in Ohio getting people to do that. Their attitude was, that organics stuff is foolish…then how did God do it? 🙂 Yeah, coffee grounds are good. But, they’re 4% nitrogen and the USDA recommends using no more then you would cow manure. Less, in fact. And, they need to be covered in the spring or the ground heats up fast, killing roots. Just throw mulch over them. niio

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  10. left coast chuck December 4, 23:14

    I keep S.O.S. bars in my cars for emergency rations. They are calorie dense and are supposed to be non-thirst generating. However, it still feels good to take a swig of something after ingesting an S.O.S. bar.

    In order to extend their shelf life, I wrap them in a thick layer of newsprint, approximately two inches think on all sides. It works better if you wrap them in segments, approximately 10 full size sheets to each segment rather than trying to wrap them with the New York Times Sunday Edition all at once. Although if the Sunday NY Times has gone the way the local paper has gone, it may now be possible to wrap the bars with the complete Times all at once.

    Might be a good idea to save a bunch of newsprint while you still can. I am confident that at some point in the future there will be no paper editions of local news media. It will all be electronic. Got to keep an eye on the bottom line, you know. As it is now, some papers are charging for their electronic edition. I think that is an outstanding way to commit newspaper hara kiri. Most of their followers are from the mature generation. The more recent generations can’t read and don’t want to learn.

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  11. red December 4, 23:19

    Good info, always. niio

    Reply to this comment
  12. Wildartist December 4, 23:58

    Using bacon grease to waterproof your boots might work in a pinch, but in my experience (with lard) it makes your leather goods vulnerable to mice etc. They will LOVE to chew them up. Use caution!

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 5, 00:19

      I got to thinking about grease on boots and I am pretty sure our 18th century ancestors used bear grease on their leather goods. I am not really conversant with bear grease but I have heard that it is good for many uses.

      That may have been in the days before bears were infested with trichinosis. Nowadays I am not sure I would use bear grease for a lot of its prior uses. I suspect that, perhaps, by the time the bear fat is rendered into grease the trichinosis cysts have been rendered dead. Bear meat, dog meat and a couple other “game” animals are carriers of trichinosis besides wild hogs.

      Bear grease used by our ancestors might have retained enough bear smell to ward off munching by rodent types. On the other hand, bacon grease with its extra load of salt is pure ambrosia.

      Reply to this comment
    • red December 5, 07:00

      Wildartist: While I’m leery of using any fat from smoked meat, we always caught drippings from the meat on trays. When melted, a dark layer formed on the bottom. Soot, salts, and so on were in it. Rodents have a problem with both and soot is toxic. niio

      Reply to this comment
    • City Chick December 6, 18:46

      I don’t put bacon grease in/on anything but the inside of a fry pan or Dutch oven. Anything else is a terrible waste of a culinary delight.

      Reply to this comment
  13. jrg December 5, 05:00

    Plastic coffee cans are very handy. Stackable that fit in a corner or under a car seat. We’ve used them for concrete work, making a good fence post anchor and carry to post hole, rather than pour at each hole .

    Store sealed food items safe from outside sources. The older metal cans were often made into cooking or heating water pots

    Reply to this comment
  14. Omega 13 December 6, 13:04

    Does anyone wear pantyhose any more?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 6, 19:05

      Don’t know the answer to the question and am a little old to conduct that kind of a survey, but surely every woman over a certain age has a couple of pair tucked away in the corner of a drawer somewhere even if that isn’t presently a common item in her daily wear.

      Just imagine the reaction if some old geezer came up to the lady followers of this list and said, “Hi, do you still wear panty hose?” I think it would be ugly.

      Reply to this comment
      • Tealady77 December 7, 04:35

        LCC, I haven’t worn pantyhose for years! 😆 maybe some of the younger ladies would be insulted? Maybe not, if the read the article. For me, it’s worth buying several pairs to keep on hand.

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      • Tealady77 December 7, 06:32

        Hi left coast chuck, first, thank you for serving this country and helping keep us safe. My father did the same in the Army. He’s retired, will be 90 in less than a month, served in 2 wars, and is still as sharp as he ever was. He, my mom, and my husband of 46+ years are my firm heroes. My grandparents are in that group. I respect the men and women who have served our country. Many have survived things most of us cannot imagine. We do well to learn from them.
        Now: I cannot see my comments, nor can I see your replies except on my email. I test/research very nearly everything. If something makes no sense to me, my research is doubled, and not just internet. If it does make sense, I research and test, ie dryer lint, cotton balls+petroleum jelly being good fire starters. I’m not sure about char cloth, so I’ll test that this week after doing some research on it.
        As far as me being scared off, 😆😂🤣. I’ve got a plethora of physical and yes, mental ills, I’ve recently beaten cancer twice, and am now on chemo for five years. I love animals. Also, I love people. I love curmudgeonly people. They don’t scare me. And I love to learn and apply what I’ve learned. (Lots of love being flung around. Must be late) Thank you for ALL you give these discussions. I find you well informed and you explain yourself and your subject well. You’re a good teacher. There are several on this thread who are. I appreciate them, too. As an ending note, my grandparents on both sides survived the Great Depression. They had a great influence on my life. It’s due to them and to my parents I am interested in prepping. It is so my husband, daughter, granddaughter, and I can have a future.

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      • red December 7, 15:14

        LCC: Ask a trucker. I never did, but I don’t mind the cold. A lot of men wore them in winter. niio

        Reply to this comment
  15. MrEman December 12, 20:53

    Some times you can make a chain of repurposed items come together. My wife loves tic tacs. I like the natural peanut butter with the oil on top. I collect the empty tic tac and empty peanut butter containers. I put the empty peanut butter jar near the clothes dryer and collect the lint. when I start a new jar of PB I poor off the oil on to the lint to make fire starter. When I have a batch of fire starter I will put some in a empty tis tac box and add it to my fire starting supplies. I also have other tic tac boxes with AA and AAA batteries and other small items.

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  16. City Chick December 12, 22:46

    MrEman – Now thats a keeper! Bet the house smells like warm nuts too! My mother loved Tic Tacs. She used the empty containers to store sewing supplies like pins and needles to keep her sewing kit very organized…

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  17. City Chick January 24, 16:04

    Books. Normally I would say all types of “how to books”, but now I would say any books and as many as you can! Technology is not only constantly changing formats, but attempting to selectively eliminate our history through strategic obsolescence. Our institutions which we count on to preserve our history may fall victim. Keep that old encyclopedia to educate your kids!

    Reply to this comment
    • ST January 24, 18:00

      City Chick;
      About 6-8 years ago, I personally witnessed library staff purging books from a library branch. All were conservative or libertarian authored books.

      “What we don’t know keeps the contracts alive and movin’
      They don’t gotta burn the books, they just remove ’em…”

      Reply to this comment
      • City Chick January 25, 00:42

        ST – Technology has done a real number on libraries for sure. Professional librarians are suppose to be non-political and impartial but that’s not always the case. Most major universities and companies have simply dumped printed books in favor of online resources. The Library of Congress is suppose to keep at least two of every printed book, but whose checking? Older historical works are being scanned and put tiny digital format. Let’s hope they keep the original copies!

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        • ST January 25, 15:40

          City Chick;
          I understand what you mean. But what I saw was the staff pulling all books with non-Leftist authors all at once. Even fiction, like Tom Clancy. It was one of those days I’d wished I owned a hidden body camera. If anyone is wondering, it was the Broward County Library, Pembroke Park branch.

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          • City Chick January 25, 18:38

            ST – We have tp speak up and ST you’re doing a good job! Keep at it! Back in the day, libraries use to have a local public sale of retired books. Now they just pitch whatever they don’t want on the shelf. Dangerous times we live in especially when we take a look at any book’s copyright page and it says “Printed In China”

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    • red January 25, 22:49

      CC: Right now, thrift books gets a lot of orders on republished 19th century books. some novels, because even into the 70s, most writers tended toward bein conservative. If keeping old books, vacuum pack and seal in plastic. It keeps out book beatles and helps against paper oxidizing. A scanner can add them to the computer to be printed out. I need to hunt up more Foxfire books and books on tools how-to make tools from tools. There was a show from the UK that was based on that, how tool make new tools. niio

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  18. Miss Kitty January 24, 19:35

    Did you offer to haul them to the dump for them, or ask if you could go through the discards?
    Better yet, if the dumpster is accessable, sneak in after they’ve all gone home and dumpster dive if you can do so without being hassled by the cops.

    Reply to this comment
    • City Chick January 25, 03:43

      You can get a copy of the President’s 1776 Advisory Commission’s 1776 Report on Amazon for $9.90. It has already been taken down from By the new Administration. Freedom – Worth more than it’s weight in gold!

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