Repurposing your life to make prepping easier

This guest post is by JET and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

What we can all do this week is inventory. It helps list making easier. We clutter our basements and lives with useless stuff. If we need to find shelter, bug out, what will you bring in the car? what could you carry from the car once out of gas? Cleaning the basement is a chore usually, but realistically weeding out the chaff is important and simplifies you life. Once your basement or shed is cleared from clutter you have room for that shelf of sugar, coffee or the 100 pack of TP. We may not need as much TP when the dollar is worth less and can be used to augment your toilet paper supply.

There are trucks canvassing my neighborhood for scrap metal let them take your trash away or better yet you take it to get scrap metal money. I bribed the guy in the trash truck recently( bribed is kind of harsh, I augmented his income lets say) He obliged me in taking large useless stuff from my curb. we usually need to pay the municipality to remove some items. I made a friend , one who comes weekly and takes my trash away. Not much gets wasted tho. food scraps go in the compost, paper gets burned and heats my home.

I love the word repurposing. Finally a way to describe my frugality. This week a bag once used for shipping a new mattress found its last life. It covered stuff I hauled to my retreat in the back or the truck It covered a pile of milk in the yard( I’ll get back to the milk) and now is a tent for my new raised beds. Hopefully I’ll get the courage up to put it in the recycle bin and let someone else reuse it in what ever they do with old plastic.

While buying food for a local food pantry a store owner offered me some milk. I agreed to take it to the local shelter for distribution to the needy. The proprietor of the food pantry said we don’t take food past the sell by date. It was 2 days past. What to do with a truck load of milk? My friends, neighbors and family got cases, we froze what we had room for and I piled it neatly under its mattress bag in the yard. 6 weeks later its still not sour smelling. Its organic cartons half gallon containers, usually pretty expensive. When I started dumping it in the yard My son said he knew a guy who grew giant pumpkins and used milk to help them grow. I googled it and sure enough its good for the garden. I now have a huge area of tall grass, very green and healthy. the rest went to my crock pot yogurt and the raised beds as well as all over my lawn. It was 100’s of gallons left over. It didn’t go to waste.

While we still have trash trucks taking away our leftovers load them up and go thru your treasures to see what’s useful. If I cant use it maybe someone else will. a lot of places online let you post stuff for sale or free stuff and someone will come pick it up. I mostly use those sites to gather free stuff. I’ll need to make more space in my shed tho. We live in a land of milk and honey I have had near hoarding tendencies, possibly from doing without as a kid. Its good to weed out the true trash.

The real inventory is what is within you your life lessons. its some thing no one can steal it cant be moth eaten or rust away. But knowledge without practical application is not a commodity unless you can put it to work. I heard it described as yup yup information. I can do this and I know how to do that, oh yup yup yup. But did you ever actually make a fire bow?

One of my dearest friends is a revolutionary war re-enactor. He was chided by an onlooker about the flint and steel he carried. The heckler said I got a bic lighter what can you do with your flint and steel? He produced a metal striker he forged and a piece of flint as well as char cloth he made. Before the lighter was produced from the other guys pocket my friend lit a pipe from a spark caught in the charr cloth. He told me after it doesn’t usually catch on the first try. That’s real practical skills.

Put some of your ideas to work this week see what is lacking in a plan of the day. do you really want to live on MRE’s or will you find out how to make jam over a fire and preserve your berries you find.? What do peanuts taste like mashed and mixed with honey? Practice mixing dough for bread bake it and make a PBJ from scratch. Meals I have prepared in my little retreat after hauling water, collecting wood and prepping the ingredients take a long time. But what reward you get from a quiet meal made from scratch is priceless.

That’s living, not just surviving. Keep on preppin…

This contest will end on June 5 2012 – prizes include:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of   A total prize value of over $150.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

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. I love repurposing! Here is a tip that I use. You know those plastic bags that you get from the grocery store or Walmart? I have been saving them for future use as garbage bags. I have used them in a pinch and they work great. Keep in mind though sometimes they have holes and you may need to double bag. Love free garbage bags!!

    • sw't tater says:

      those bags can also be used for making other bags.There are sites all over the internet for using them to make Plastic yarn, (plarn) I have made some up but have not finished my first bag with it yet. I’ve had too many babies to crochet for this year!
      It’s not too hard to do, and for those that crochet, not hard at all.just substitute materials.Even if a bag has a hole it can be used.

      • I haven’t crocheted in years, but still have all my supplies….I’ll have to remember this tip! Thanks!

        I have made rag rugs before, using wornout clothes as well. I hate throwing things away when I might can get some future use from them. My dear departed MIL’s basement was slap full of stuff that “we might need one day”. Made me sad when her children threw it all away.

  2. I just love how you came up with a new proper name for we junk collectors, hoarders, recycle specialists, etc. Repurposing should readily qualify for the most politically correct person around. I have a collection that I have gathered over the years of hand tools gathered from throwaways when the handles broke. I separate the metal from the wood, tie the metal handle parts to the tool end, oil them with chain lube to prevent deterioration and hang them on a storage rack. I figure in a SHTF situation, the tools I have with intact handles are mine and the others are bartering supplies. If a person needs one and does not have the ability to make a new handle, I can make one for them at an added cost. At worst, I can always sell them for scrap in case a SHTF never happens.

  3. 1982MSgt says:

    Do you realize that expired milk poured into the soil of your tomato plants will enrich their growth? Somehow they taste better. Sour milk never goes to waste – no tomatoes? Go outside and pour it under you yard plants.

  4. Kelekona says:

    Upcycling is also a trendy word. I can’t find a good definition, but it’s like salvage where you lovingly take a piece of garbage and turn it into something useful without the energy and chemical use of standard recycling.

    I’m hoarding my old pants because I want to turn them into designer shopping totes. If I give them to the Salvation Army, at least half of them are going to go into the rag bag. I’m not sure what all shredded cotton is good for, but being a trendy bag before hitting that step will give the fabric the rest of its life.

    But yes, there needs to be a balance of what you keep and what you toss. Having stuff doesn’t help you if you can’t find it. Being able to find everything is great until you can’t go out and buy what you are lacking.

    • homemaid says:

      They use ground up blue jeans as insulation…very GREEN.

    • Flint and Steel or a Fire Piston generally work well with charcloth, and old jeans are a very good material to make the charcloth, although a single pair of jeans would make a several year supply (or a lot for barter).

  5. farmergranny says:

    Great article! For those of you who are quilters or seamstresses, I’ve been using the selvage from my fabric to crochet into throw rugs. They are sturdy, durable, washable, and — free!. If you know someone who uses hay or straw for animals, the twine used to tie the bales also make great rugs. I use them outside to scrape off muddy boots and as door mats. I also use old newspapers to mulch around my trees and plants, then put extra grass clippings or old hay on top…free.

    • [email protected] I made my post about rag rugs before I saw yours! 😉 Great minds think alike! 😀

    • We have a ton of that plastic bailing twine and generally use it for other rope/cordage uses. Hadn’t thought of making rugs and mats from it. Sounds like a good winter project.

  6. SurvivorDan says:

    Many of the pastors sermons are timely and address some issue I am currently dealing with. So to your article hits home on something that is driving me crazy. All the junk in my garage!
    Mrs. SD is a packrat. And much of it is useless (landfill) and much could be re-purposed..but not by us. I need to get off my a** and sell it – give it away – trash it.
    This week… begins! Thanks Jet.

  7. Check out and see if there is an active group in your area. Lots of things given and collected via this route. Last summer someone offered two nearly new 36 inch storm/screen doors which they were replacing with new ones. My doors are only 32 inches so I didn’t jump on it, but I see these kinds of deals being offered and accepted quite often. The stuff is offered free and you generally know it’s going to someone who is actually interested in the item and will use it. In any case, it will be out of your hair.

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