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.
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
Cans 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!
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.
These 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.
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
As 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.
The Best Item To Keep
We 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.
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.
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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