An Alternative Way To Prepping… For The Frugal Minded

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – By Rural Buckeye

Many of us want to be prepared as much as possible when the crap hits the fan. A favorite and another practical method of obtaining items that may of be of such interest, is visiting your local recycling center. I have been making frequent visits (every 7-14 days)to a local recycling center for the last 5 plus years. I was and still am amazed at what items end up there. Some of these items can be very useful and others you may want to just to pick them up for a resale.I have

I have found by selling a few of my finds it is a good way to help subsidize your other purchases. Or just hang on to them for bartering items down the road. Scrap prices do fluctuate and depending what the item is made out of, will be a factor when purchasing. But typically all my purchases are around five to ten cents on the dollar of what the item would cost elsewhere. Except for scrap, I pay around twice what they pay out. Keeping in mind that this article is more about acquiring and not on construction or refurbishing items.

Before I continue, I would like to make it very clear. Be careful what you are buying and inspect the items very carefully. Have an idea on why someone may have wanted to get rid of it in the first place. Some of these treasures are just no longer needed and others have defects. I have made bad buys only to take them back and sell them for less than what I paid originally. Also, although I will not be disclosing my sources or location (competition and security reasons) hopefully you will find some places to visit in a city near by you.

Fuel Tanks-A couple of my early on finds were aluminum fuel tanks. One being a 30-gallon tank that came out of a retired boat and the other is a 100-gallon tank that was removed from a tractor trailer rig. Both tanks appeared to be in very good shape, but before filling with fuel I checked them for leaks and cleaned them. The larger tank had 1/2 inch plug leaking. I replaced it with a new one and all is good. These are being used for emergency backup reservoirs and I am going to rotate fuel through them once a year. And yes, I am using a fuel stabilizer.

Hand tools- The one location I go to has a flea market type area setup. These items that they place there are recognized by their employees and set up to sell to people like myself. The reason I mention this is, because some items cost a bit more than d. Because a hoe or rake has very little metal in them, they are put out with a $1.00 price sticker on them. On all hand tools. I have purchased several hatchets, hoe, shovels, maul, sickle potato fork and other oddballs.

Steel-When buying raw steel, I normally pay twice what the center pays out to people I have picked a variety of steel, from 24 gauge galvanized sheet metal to many different lengths of cold and hot rolled steel. Along with piping from 1/2 inch to 6 inch. I have probably collected around 300 to 400 lbs of steel and still have less than $60.00 in it. One of my projects in the making is building a couple of rocket stoves. If you are not familiar with them, use a search engine like google and check them out. They area biomass cook stove that runs very efficient and are fairly easy to construct.

Although you will need metal working tools and a welder. The 3″ stove pipe will just be a cook stove, while the 6″ will be a vertical evaporator for boiling down maple sap to syrup. This will be used with a cut off stainless steel beer keg. But the keg really is nothing more than a 20-gallon pot boiling on a wood stove. This is nothing fancy or expensive like a commercial evaporator, but will work just fine for home use. I just want to make enough syrup for the family and some friends. I should have less than $50.00 in it by the time I am done.

Climbing Tree Stands- Believe it or not, someone scrapped out 2 brand new never used climbing deer stands. I have thoroughly inspected them, but I have not yet tried them out. And yes safety is critical here. Heck, they would make great zombie lookouts as well. These just might be a resale item, for I do most of my hunting from a ground blind anymore and I really do not need anymore.

Weight Distribution Hitches- This is something I did not need but I picked up 1 complete unit along with the makings of 3 others along with sway bars. If you do not know what a distribution hitch is. It helps level out a trailer to the truck it is attached to. Just this purchase alone has made me enough money to continue picking the scrap yard for a quite while. I paid $50 bucks for the hitches and turned around and sold them for $350.00. Once again, you have to be careful what you buy because of liability issues. These were a name brand item and appeared to be never used. I sold these on Craigs list and I had no problem getting rid of them.

This is just a small list of items that I have acquired over a small period time. To me, it is a win-win-win-win situation. The person getting rid of the item is freeing up space and picking up a little cash. Fewer items are ending up in the landfills. The recycling center is turning money. Lastly, I am obtaining items that help make life easier now and to be better prepared in the future for whatever may come our way.

The great thing about the treasure trove is that you never know what is going to show up. Good hunting my conservative friends.

Prizes For This Round Include: (Ends July 29, 2016)

First Prize:

Second Prize: 

Third Prize:

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.

The more original and helpful your article is, the deeply and less basic it is, the better the chance, that I will publish it, and you will win. Only non-fiction how-to-do-it type articles, please.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

    Except for the gas used to drive around … then there is TRASH PICKING .

    Stay the course MD . Happy summer to ya .

  2. PrepperDoc says:

    Yep, you use your knowledge to select out items that have valuable uses left in them.

  3. Axelsteve says:

    I am all for frugal preps .
    I have always been kinda frugal anyway. For instance I bought a lee loader when I was a teenager to feed my 03a3 springfeild. It made good ammo and was more accurate then I was.I pick up range brass when I go shooting. I have brass for calibers that I do not own. For instance I picked up a bunch of 45 auto brass and since my son has a 9mm I picked up some of that for him.I have also picked up poodle brass for a friend and for my son who built his own ar. I picked up a bunch of ruskie godless commie mosin brass but I do not think it is reloadable. I have some if the need arises though.I buy stuff at yard sales and thrift shops. I recently bought a nice REI brand pack for 5 bucks. That is going to be my ghb that I will keep behind the seat of my truck. Much of my prepping budget comes from recycling.The money I get for turning in my recycling that is.It is not a whole lot but it helps and I have some underground income that the flying monkeys of the tdl cannot track.

  4. mom of three says:

    We used to check free piles after garage sales, I found nice garden pots, a few electronics, some clothing, fabric. I did ebay, a number of year’s ago the shipping is what made me stop I ended up selling a toy, I check with their shipping calculator it was $ 16.00, I went to send it off my post office, said $26.00, so that sale was a bust. Hubby, takes his scraps of electrical wire and make any where from $35.00 up to
    $90.00, you have to show them your driver’s license, and he
    shows them his card so they know he is a electrical

  5. Anonamo Also says:

    good reminder, for repeat article… many ppl are throwing things away in the name of clutter…without an eye for future needs.

  6. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

  7. Chuck Findlay says:

    I buy a lot of old items all the time.

    I am pretty well filled up with prep items that I personally can use. There is only so much space to put things and at some point you have to stop. (But I can always find a space for more silver…)

    But I do go to garage sales and thrift stores all the time to find things to re-sell at a good profit. Rebuilding or fixing up things is an enjoyable pass time to me. And the fact I have found a way to make money doing it makes it all the better.

    Old electronics and tools are the main thing I look for. I buy a lot of GPS units (usually for $3.00 or less) to re-sell as today people are using their phones and auto GPS units. And tools are always a good selling item.

    I have a Hamfest (amateur radio flea market) coming up next weekend (Fathers day in Monroe Michigan) and I will unload a lot of things there.

    I just was given a cast iron pot that goes over a camp fire (on a tripod) that was all rusty. It took me an hour to clean up and then 2-hrs in the oven getting seasoned. I also had to add a chain to hang it. It looks good and should sell quick. Just have to figure out what I want for it.

    It always amazes me what people will get rid of for such a low price. But it works out well for me…

  8. I stop my my thrift store every week or so. I buy whatever shows up that I need. Recently got a nice pressure canner. Today I only got a hand juicer, it works well on prickly pears. Still, for 10 cents. I almost picked up couple other things but at this time I am not to bargaining materials. I bought books, Inorganic Chemistry, but still need Organic. Also bought Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng. It is amazing and she already addresses liberal support of Mao.
    They had a serger but it needed work, darn. I am not knowledgeable enough to make the call.
    I have always relied as much as I can on garage sales, thrift stores, etc. I just make a list and look for what I need.

  9. BlueJeanedLady says:

    Way back in the ‘olden days of last century’ (80’s & 90’s) my workplace was next door to a church property that had a secondhand / thrift store in a designated area of their main church structure. It was a well organized & neatly kept place that mostly resold clothing, household items, the occasional array of hand tools, a few books & board games, etc.; was completely staffed by church member volunteers and open 4-6 days (varied) a week from September through May each year.

    NOTE: They did operate “By appointment only, If necessary” during the summer months, partially because it was more difficult to routinely schedule volunteers when school was out of session but more so – – – and I always appreciated this – – – because this particular church encouraged Moms & Dads, Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, friends, families, neighbors etc.; to spend more time with their own during the summer months as the more compatible weather, time and travel allowed. None-the-less, the store still had an “emergency” number posted, plus some “on-call” volunteers to help potential shoppers – no church membership required – who might be in dire need &/or distress if they needed such quickly, due to unforeseen circumstances, during the summer months concerning clothing or household items. Good people. Very good people. Delightfully good people.

    Anywho, back to my intended point . . . Because a) I’ve always enjoyed thrift shopping and b) it was a great place to get away from work for breaks &/or before/after shifts, I began frequenting the place often and got to know some of the volunteers on a pleasant & friendly basis. Rarely was I looking for anything specific (mostly only clothing & fabric yet always kept my eyes open for a bargain on anything) & often purchased nothing. Regardless, the volunteer staff was always very kind & observant. Soon, after we began recognizing each other due to my frequent visits, one of the volunteers asked me if they could get my phone number – before email, ha, ha, ha – and if any of them could call me if something was donated that they thought I might be interested in purchasing.

    “Well, YES!” I proclaimed! WooHoo! How cool was that? Sounds kind of like having personal shopping assistants in my favorite thrift store venue doesn’t it?!!! 🙂 They took note of the sizes of clothing I was searching for and asked me to let them know of anything else I might be needing. WOW!

    I quit that job in the neighboring building over 15 years ago and don’t have the opportunity to just drop by the church store too often these days but the entire experience reinforced (I actually learned this by my parents’ examples but must have misplaced the idea for a few years, back-in-the-day) a very valuable lesson I continue to practice to this day:

    Get to know the good people you do business with and they will, in-turn, do good business with you! Honestly, if you have one or more small shops/businesses/service providers that you frequently patronize, get to know the good owners/staff and, as long as you play your part well, they will do their best to keep up the good relations. I do know it seems more difficult to find such Win-Win circumstances these days, but believe me – – – some are still out there to be found if you keep your ears & eyes open and respond respectfully in return! 🙂

    Take care all and continued happy prepping wishes!

  10. OhioPrepper says:

    Rural Buckeye,
    I’ve taught hunter education for more than two decades, and one of the things we stress on tree stands is that they be made by a reputable manufacturer, whether you by new or used or in this case discarded and recycled (very cool BTW).. Somewhere you should see a logo of the Tree Stand Manufactures Association with any packaging or possibly stamped somewhere on the unit ( This is just one precaution to stay safe.
    Also, without giving away too much information, where in general do you live here in Ohio? If we divide the state into quarters, you could indicate something like central, upper right or left, lower right or left, with Cleveland being for instance, upper right. Just wondering if there may be an LMI nearby. In my case I would indicate Central.

    • Rural Buckeye says:

      Hello Ohio Prepper,
      Thanks for the suggestion on the manufacturer of the tree stands. For that is good information, but I have since sold them. This article was first published a few months ago by M.D. and during this time I sold them on Craigslist for $125.00.

      I also live in central Ohio……


    • I agree

  11. One man’s trash is another man’s survival gear. This can apply to any kind of disaster, be it the end of the world as we know it or a zombie apocalypse. Very useful tips! Check out my site for more info like this.

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