Non-Food Storage

Sharon March 18th, 2008

I never know how alarmist to be even for myself, but it does seem like the financial system is decompensating at an alarming rate – and that food and other supply shortages are a real possibility.  Will everything right itself, or are we headed for a crash?  I have no idea, and I don’t mean to imply that I do.  I think a crash is a real possibility, but I can’t swear to it.  What I do know is that what we are seeing now isn’t just a purely economic crisis – that is, it is also peak oil and climate change, and the three are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. 

So I think it does behoove us to think about the possibility that something more lasting may be beginning.  At the very minimum, rampant inflation seems likely – the FED bailout and interest rate cuts seem pretty much to mean that we’ve chosen a course, and that it is going to be harder and harder to meet basic needs on our budgets.   My own sense is that money may be less valuable than things we need.

Certainly, prices are going up and the dollar’s value is falling – and spot shortages seem a real possibility.  I’ve heard from several seed companies including FedCo, Johnny’s and Baker Creek Heirlooms that their seed orders are well up above the norms – 20% or more.  Idaho Locavore just posted that she’d heard wheat demand is going crazy, and Lehmans reports that it is heavily backordered on grain mills.  The reality is that as people begin to see things falling apart, they are going to start looking for mitigation solutions, and since most lower-energy or renewably powered tools and goods are now niche market items (as, for that matter are whole grains and seeds in many ways), it is going to be very difficult for small companies to ramp up production.  Moreover, I keep hearing people mention Y2K – quite a few small companies got burned in that, ramping up production only to see it drop like a stone on January 2, 2000 – so some may be reluctant to go wild for something that looks like a short-term trend.

Which is why I’m posting this list.  It isn’t a bad general resource, although I wouldn’t recommend people run out and get a generator – I think financially and environmentally, you are better off putting the same money into being able to live well without power.  And I wouldn’t store many too many disposable items – finding ways to live without them is better.

 Still, while I don’t recommend people go crazy, now is probably a good time for those with some leeway in their budgets to meet basic needs.  It is a good time to buy shoes, coats other necessities ahead – as the dollar falls, prices will go up.   If you focus on things that either save you energy in the longer term (solar battery chargers, manual laundry tools, etc…) or that you will use eventually anyway, this can only be a net gain. 

To the extent it is possible, used, freecycled and yard saled items are a really good way for those with low budgets to plan ahead.  Extra blankets, clothes, shoes, and tools are great items to find this way.

 I’d also recommend that people consider storing a little extra for friends and family who may need your help in times to come – or a little extra to bring with you if you rely on them.  The odds are good that many of us are going to end up consolidating housing from necessity, and it isn’t the end of the world – it may even be a good thing.  But having reserves to tide you over makes a big difference if budgets are tight.

It is possible to see these things as a more reliable investment than markets these days - rather than stockpiling for the end of the world - that we are planning ahead for a world of rising prices.  And that, at least, seems likely enough.



35 Responses to “Non-Food Storage”

  1. Ailsa Ekon 18 Mar 2008 at 10:57 am

    I hear you. I started rearranging yesterday in preparation for my daughter moving back home and my mom having to sell her house and move in with us. It’ll be tight, but possible. I’m waiting with bated breath for your grain mill post.

    What are your thoughts on buying on credit?

  2. Sharonon 18 Mar 2008 at 11:07 am

    Ailsa – I think sometimes buying on credit can’t be avoided, but
    often you end up eating up the benefits, say of buying in bulk,
    with interest charges. And the US bankruptcy laws are a lot
    harsher than they used to be, so if you have real doubts about
    being able to pay it off, that is a worry. On the other hand,
    sometimes buying with a credit card does get you rewards, so
    just be careful – very.

    Good for you for planning for your family!


  3. Ailsa Ekon 18 Mar 2008 at 11:14 am

    Just want to add that neither daughter nor mother have indicated any interest in moving in. Just, if things go as badly as I think they will, they’re not going to have a choice.

    I did some good stocking up this month, we have 140 lbs. of rice, 35 lbs. of canola oil, lots of whole spices, 25 lbs. of white sugar, 7 lbs. of raisins, 50 lbs. of soybeans coming on Thursday, etc., now, but now I’m through my entire grocery budget and then some, and I didn’t buy those water storage containers I was going to buy, and I don’t have anything left for even a cheap grain mill. I’m thinking at this point what I need to do is take deep breaths as necessary and tell myself that I’ve done what I can, it will have to be enough, and just focus on putting away more water in soda bottles and getting the house ready to have more occupants.

  4. Sarahon 18 Mar 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I’m really glad that I filed my taxes crazy-early. I already have my refunds from state and federal, and they are being turned into cast-iron cookware, gardening tools, a water purifier and/or grain mill, and other such things. (yes, I got a fairly large refund!)

  5. Greenpaon 18 Mar 2008 at 1:01 pm

    If you can find a real farming community, not too far away- they tend to have auctions- whole household, barn, cellar, and attic; when someone passes away.

    Usually these days there are antique dealers lurking to snap up treasures; but there are always quantities of old tools and equipment that goes for pennies.

    Often there may be 2 or 3 auctions in an area on the same day; and they’ll try not to overlap, so folks can make a day of it.

    My biggest hit- a working forge, for $20. I use it. They’ll usually go for several hundred- but this one- wasn’t listed in the advertising, it was just there.

    If you’ve got a neighbor or two thinking as you do; it would be possible to get representatives of 3 families into one minivan- and split the cost of gas…

  6. Ellenon 18 Mar 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Another lighting solution to consider is vegetable oil lamps instead of candles. The most primitive ancient oil lamps were just a clay dish with a little depression in the rim, with a wick resting in the depression. Even today, these lamps are used in India, often burning ghee (clarified butter) at altars and in temples. An Indian friend taught me that regular vegetable oil can be used as well, and that the traditional fluffy, very lightly twisted cotton wick can be made from a cotton ball. (Real cotton, not synthetic!) I’ve found that any shallow metal or ceramic bowl can be used as a lamp, but you need a saucer under it because it will drip.

    Here’s a picture of a traditional lamp–

    It shows 2 wicks in the bowl, but one wick is more typical. For more info, you can also google “diwali lamps” or “ancient oil lamps”.

    If your stores of cooking oil (including olive oil, the traditional lamp fuel of the Middle East) have gotten too old for cooking, you can still use the oil in the lamps, and they’re much safer than kerosene or commercial lamp oil. (Olive oil in particular has a high burn temperature, which means if you tip the whole thing over the oil will generally smother the flame without igniting.) They also don’t release petrochemical byproducts into your house the way paraffin candles do.

    Sharon, thanks for your wonderful posts. You’ve given me a lot of food for thought.

  7. Leilaon 18 Mar 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Ailsa – seems to me that it’s better to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then remember that the Apocalypse is not here today, and you don’t have to have those water containers this very minute. Put aside bits of cash for a few weeks/months, then get them. Really. Just because Wall Street is tanking doesn’t mean that the water is running out next week.

    You have done a great job stocking up food – you don’t have to get yourself totally ready for the end of the world this week. Putting yourself into to debt to acquire a bunch of stuff for your emergency kit is not prudent. Sharon has been recommending that we do this incrementally.

    Take care and be well. I’m impressed with your planning though. Since I am physically less able than before, I’m going to invest in pre-made container garden boxes to get our food gardening started. We have the cash and I don’t have the energy to construct a system myself. (I’m in chemotherapy).

    Today I talked with a neighbor about putting in food gardens and generally working together as we move into this new phase. I’ve printed out Sharon’s list of stuff that runs out quickly. Now I want a shotgun but I have to discuss it with hubby. He’s going to think I’m nuts. But we live in a big city with a high murder rate…

  8. Sharonon 18 Mar 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Ailsa, I think Leila has hit the nail on the head. Yes, there’s a lot of bad news right now, but there’s probably world enough and time. I think it is smart to maybe think about converting money you *have* to good that are prone to inflation, but there’s no need to panic.

    Remember, the world is full of plastic soda bottles – if need be, you’ll be ok with those. You will get along – and what you have will help.

    Again, I’m not trying to say “panic now!” – instead, more like “plan now, use what you’ve got as a reserve.” It is perfectly reasonable to be freaked out, but so far, most of the fallout is hitting banks, not you.


  9. Greenpaon 18 Mar 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Ellen – I may be a closet pyromaniac. I’ve played with a LOT of different old-fashioned lighting, from making tallow dips out of deer tallow (I don’t recommend it- choking fragrance!) to Aladdin lamps.

    Including vegetable oil lamps. I wasn’t ever able to get the wick right. I know it CAN be done; but I think there are some secrets they don’t tell just everybody.

    The one that drove me crazy most recently is- bayberry wax. I remember real bayberry candles from when I was very small; now they’re uncommon, and expensive. So I bought some bulk wax, and tried making my own- small votives, since the dips are pretty difficult to make last; it has a fairly low melting point, and they just melt away into drips, if the wax is pure.

    No kind of wick I tried worked, and I tried 5 or so. Frustrating! Anybody out there know the secret?

  10. Idaho Locavoreon 18 Mar 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Yeah, some days when there’s a LOT of bad news coming out, I also have to fight back some panicky feelings. But Leila and Sharon are right, this isn’t going to tank over night. The boat is tipping, but we’re not going under yet. I just try to do a little bit more every day. Just a little bit, more if I have the time and energy and funds.

    Sometimes you get lucky and don’t need funds, though – just reminders to keep your eyes open. I may have acquired a medium size steel cabinet that we can use for a cold smoker today – I’ll know more in a couple of days or so. If so, it’ll be free, and it’ll be more than enough to cold smoke anything we would want to preserve. And it’s using something that’s already been made that would otherwise go into a dump somewhere. Win, win, win. :-)

  11. Ellenon 18 Mar 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Greenpa, I’m no help with the bayberry wax, but I think with the vegetable oil lamps, it helps to see that kind of wick first. I usually use premade ones (I live near Little India in Los Angeles, so they’re easy for me to find) and it’s been a while since I made a cotton one, so I just made one and lit it about 20 minutes ago to remind myself of how to make them. It’s still burning, so I seem to have gotten it right…

    Unroll a cotton ball. Gently pull on the end to draw out the fibers. Make sure the amount you’re pulling out is consistent, and as you pull out each little bit, roll the cotton gently back and forth between your fingers. It doesn’t need to be twisted like yarn, just compacted a little. After you roll it, the wick should be almost as compact as the original cotton ball was before you pulled out the fibers, if this makes any sense. The wick diameter should be about 3mm, and it can be any length you like. The flame shouldn’t be more than about an inch from the oil source. It doesn’t make a big flame (think tea light) but you can put more than one wick into the same lamp or dish for multiple small flames.

    These lamps are much smaller and simpler than the commercial kinds that use lamp oil or kerosene. From the Neolithic until a couple of hundred years ago, typical household oil lamps were about 5 inches long with a handle, or 3-4 inches long without. The wicks are much smaller and more porous than modern lamp wicks.

    I hope this helps,

  12. Sonnyon 18 Mar 2008 at 6:47 pm

    About the oil candles. We have done a lot of experimenting as well. With liquid oil I take a jar put a jute wick in it and surround it with pebbles, then fill to just above the pebble line with oil. The pebbles hold the the wick up. Jute seems to work better with the liquid fats than cotton. You can use this method with (soft) solid fat as well. When we had a cow we had so much milk, cream, butter, etc. that we would get very creative. We made ghee candles this way. We also made pure ghee soap (but that is another story).

    Now we have goats, and though we do make butter etc., we don’t have the excess we had with a cow. I now use the tallow from our meat goats and dip or mold candle sticks. I use plain cotton string (no additives) and they burn great. No smell. No dripping. The only time we had a smell was with “billy” tallow. I mixed it with beeswax and it smelled much better.

    Rendering the tallow can be stinky, so I do it outside in the solar oven or the crock pot. The crock pot works great for rendering, but uses power, so is second choice. The whitest cleanest candles (and soap) come from long slow rendering. Takes all day in the crock pot on low. It’s not the kind of info most people care to know, but there it is, just in case. Ha!

  13. Jen H.on 18 Mar 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I just ordered a whole bunch of seeds from Fedco using their online system, and darn it, a bunch of my carefully selected items were out of stock. It did kind of make the panic rise a bit in my throat– not that I HAD to have the Scarlet Keeper carrots and New York Early onions and the rest, but it gave me a chill. I have been trying to convert a good chunk of the money I have into useful goods. The list of 100 items was interesting and reminded me of some items I still want to stock up on, but some items made me snort–paper plates? Come on. Also antibacterial soap for daily use is a bad idea as it increases antibiotic resistance; better to save it for when it’s really needed, like if you’re about to treat an open wound.

    Sharon, I really appreciate your posting this incredibly useful information. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in posting some resources for coping psychologically… my biggest hurdle in tackling this stuff is cutting through alternate paralyzing fear and befogging denial (which seems to kick in when I have to put on my status quo hat). I feel like I need more advice than the “just breathe” variety, although I am a big fan of breathing.

  14. Idaho Locavoreon 18 Mar 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Jen and all,

    FWIW – I just went to Walton Feed’s online ordering form to line up our next month’s order, and this is what I found:

    L520-Wheat-Hard Red 5 lb Mylar bag $N/A
    O002-Wheat-Hard Red Organic Paper 50 lb bag $N/A
    O001-Wheat-Hard Red Organic double plastic 25 lb bag $N/A
    O003-Wheat-Hard Red Organic double plastic 50 lb bag $N/A
    O004-Wheat-Hard Red Organic 6 gal 45# bckt RB $N/A
    O005-Wheat-Hard Red Organic 6 gal 45# bckt SP $N/A
    O006-Wheat-Hard Red Organic Wheat 88oz #10 can $N/A
    O007-Wheat-Hard Red Organic Wheat 6 #10 cans $N/A
    W030-Wheat-Hard White double plastic 25# bag $N/A
    W031-Wheat-Hard White Paper 50 lb bag N/A
    W032-Wheat-Hard White double plastic 50# bag N/A
    W033-Wheat-Hard White 6 gal 45# bckt RB N/A
    W034-Wheat-Hard White 6 gal 45# bckt SP N/A
    W036-Wheat-Hard White Wheat 88oz #10 Can N/A
    W035-Wheat-Hard White Wheat 33 lb 6 #10 cans N/A
    L521-Wheat-Hard White Wheat 5 lb Mylar bag N/A

    Okay, now I’m officially concerned. This is way early in the year for an operation like Walton’s to already be completely out of whole hard red and white wheat. I don’t know if this is temporary or not – I hope it is just a lull between shipments caused by unexpectedly high demand. I plan to call in the morning to find out.

  15. Idaho Locavoreon 18 Mar 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Ok, went back and had another look – they do still have hard red wheat NOT ORGANIC wheat available. But the ORGANIC red wheat is apparently gone for now, as is the white.

    So, not as bad as it looked a few minutes ago, but still worrisome.

  16. tasterspoonon 18 Mar 2008 at 10:02 pm

    *sigh* Here’s the thing. I wonder how to deal with the tension between wanting to “stock up,” whether on food or coats or Q-tips or duct tape, and the reality that the more stuff I accumulate and hang on to, the larger a place I need to store it all and – the higher my rent will be.

    I’m struggling to downsize my life and it pains me to donate a perfectly good turtleneck just because I haven’t worn it in a year and it’s not particularly flattering – yet $2,000/month one bedroom apartments make doing so vital to my sanity.

    It’s the tension between feelings of liberation and of security, and I haven’t developed any really useful rules of thumb yet.

  17. Alanon 19 Mar 2008 at 2:18 am

    Jen H.
    The paper plates on that list of 100 things are for when water is too scarce to wash dishes. A very bad situation, but not entirely unlikely. People should bear in mind that that list is designed for TEOTWAWKI and a rather abrupt onset of that “end” at that.

    But plenty of short-term emergencies could leave folks without much potable water and so, having paper plates and cups could be very useful. Plastic flatware is worth stocking for the same reason.

    Likewise, if you’re being a good neighbor and helping feed a large group in an emergency situation, then using paper plates insures that your dishes don’t walk off — accidentally or otherwise.

  18. Leilaon 19 Mar 2008 at 3:06 am

    Re: good neighbor feeding the crowds – why not require that people bring their own plate? Then they don’t have to remember to return yours, and you don’t have to stockpile paper. No matter how bad it gets, people will be able to scrounge up their own plate or bowl or mug. Reuse.

  19. Leilaon 19 Mar 2008 at 3:08 am

    We’re not having hard times on this block, yet. The neighbor’s kids came over to play with ours and we asked them to stay to dinner. THey ate bread pudding, lentil soup, pasta and cooked corn from the freezer. The little girl went home raving about our high carb pantry meal. She was so impressed with the bread pudding!

    I liked being able to feed a couple of extra mouths without hardly trying.

  20. Sharonon 19 Mar 2008 at 6:13 am

    Jen, I will do a coping post soon. I’m sort of handicapped by this in that I’m one of those people who finds “getting to work” the best way of handling stress, but it is a good idea.

    One of my food storage people just reported that she went to Costco and flour had a 50lb limit – and they checked her membership to make sure she hadn’t bought flour at any other Costco!!! Woah!


  21. Jadeon 19 Mar 2008 at 7:16 am

    It always amazes me that birth control never makes it onto these kinds of lists. With me it would be number one, because pregnancy would add a whole ‘nother layer of complexity to life.

    I wrote a comment about this on the Oil Drum once, and it got dismissed with a breezy “Well, women can rinse with vinegar or do some mysterious thing that women do” comment.

    (I won’t even get started on the gender issues in Kunstler’s new book other than to highly recommend everyone stick to his non-fiction.)

  22. Jadeon 19 Mar 2008 at 7:18 am


    I meant to include how much I enjoy your series. Much appreciation from an avid reader.

  23. Sharonon 19 Mar 2008 at 7:28 am

    Jade, the problem is that birth control doesn’t store that well over the long term. Condoms tend to degrade, the pill has a 2 year lifespan, etc… Personally, I’d probably recommend permanent methods for those who are done (or in my case more than done ;-) , and natural family planning, which requires a thermometer only, for a long term strategy. Some condoms wouldn’t hurt, though in the sort term.

    Yeah, I agree with you about WMBH – I put it in my store before I read it, and I’m debating whether to just take it out or to write a rather scathing review ;-) .


  24. Jadeon 19 Mar 2008 at 7:42 am

    Can I vote for the scathing review? Sheesh by page 19 he relegated women to factories and Real Dolls.

    And how about this “arrangement” of using his friend’s wife for sex- like him borrowing a jackknife because he doesn’t have one. That was by far the morally grossest sex scene I’ve ever read and he comes across as titillated.

    His main character doesn’t even have to look at unattractive women any more. All the ones left have tights butts and “deep breasts” because the illness killed the heavy ones.

    Normally I wouldn’t make the mistake of assuming the protagonist holds the same views as the author, but by listening to the Kunstlercast interview on his website, I could hear the glee in his voice as he read from his juvenile comic book level wet dream he calls a novel.

    I had to avert my eyes after that, for his shame.

  25. Greenpaon 19 Mar 2008 at 8:58 am

    Ellen and Sonny – wow! many thanks! Learned some good things from both of you, and will certainly be using it all. :-)

  26. Idaho Locavoreon 19 Mar 2008 at 11:26 am

    Sharon, Jade and all,

    I get invites to join peak oil lists now and then. I need another list to read like a need another hole in my head, but I usually will go ahead and sign up and check it out for a few days just to see if it’s worth continuing with. (Most of these lists, in my experience, have a very high Noise to Signal ratio and I have more productive things to do with my time than wade through non-informative or bickering posts.)

    I was on one of these lists a while back, confirming it’s suspected high N:S ratio, when I saw some guy talking about advertising for a young and horny (or at least very compliant) concubine to live with him and his wife at their remote PO survival retreat in return for three squares – and lots of exercise. The sheer arrogance of the “job announcement” he posted left me torn between walking around with my mouth open in horrified astonishment the rest of the day, or falling off my desk chair to the floor, and laughing till I croaked. I finally ended up doing both. Alternately. Seemed a waste to just pick one.

    I guess it takes all kinds, and some of the “kinds” you’ll run across have, shall we say, very active imaginations.

  27. Ameliaon 19 Mar 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve had to stop reading most PO sites: the underlying worship of the notion of “the sudden violent elevation of the elect”, with the current participants assumed to be that elect, left me rolling my eyes so hard they fell out of my head and were chased around the floor by the cats: tracking them down and cleaning off the dust bunnies ate up too much of my day.

    I learned yesterday that my maternal grandfather has died. My grandmother is taking it hard, and at 86 I don’t expect her to outlive him by too many months. My mother is probably going to have to give up her job in Pittsburgh soon, as she’s having a difficult time coming up with the money for the commute.

    (Sharon, the offices of Affordable Comfort are in my hometown of Waynesburg, PA: my husband and I drove past when we were back over Christmas, and it’s far too likely that I know most of the folks working there.)

    My neighbor and my son are in the back, fixing up the family room. If my grandmother dies, we’ll invite my mother to come out to us: she’s a nurse and could find work here easily, the public transit in town is good and we’ve got plenty of space.

  28. Sharonon 19 Mar 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Amelia, I’m so sorry for you loss – and again, good for you for planning for family.

    I also really liked the eyeballs thing ;-) .

    IL, I saw that ad too. Sheesh.


  29. Ameliaon 19 Mar 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you for your kind words, Sharon.

    Jade, if a permanent contraceptive method isn’t an option, something as simple as Cyclebeads could be useful for someone with a cycle between 26 and 32 days long. I went permanent years ago, but my DS’s girlfriend has expressed an interest in them.

  30. Anion 19 Mar 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Wow- always interesting-the post as well as the comments-
    have ordered a 1/2 price copy of WMBH- sounds like it should be an interesting read……..

    Greenpa- re: bayberry- don’t know much about it yet- decided I wanted to try growing the bushes as the idea of real bayberry candles sounded nice- so I have the seeds stratifying in the fridge at present- but if you learn more- look foward to hearing about it- am several years at best from any wax though……

    Seems to me that the important thing here is to not get all panicked and stressed- it’s not healthy, it will wear you out and you can’t keep it up for long- and Kunstler is right on I think in terms of calling it a “long emergency”- so we’ve got to be prepared to deal with issues of PO, etc over the long-term. Back in the Y2K days a lot of people got all worked up and panic buying ensued- I won’t even go into what some people I know bought or how they depleted their entire savings to do so- but it seems best to approach this from a more cautious standpoint. My main take on it all at present is that most things will continue to be around for awhile but will cost more- so it is a good idea to purchase some things, especially if they are on sale, that you know you always need, in advance of needing them, especially if they are European,Canadian, etc where the exchange rate is getting worse as compared to the US dollar.

    Winter stuff is on sale now so getting extra gloves, hats, etc could be a good idea, etc-

    I know that I got a big caught up by the Y2K panic and did some overbuying of stuff that was wasted and I don’t plan on going that route again. Could eat my words here but I’m trying to not get caught up in the panic that some sites are flaming.

  31. Jadeon 19 Mar 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Amelia- thanks for your thoughts and the suggestion of cyclebeads. I’m not so much worried about pregnancy myself, but more the fact birth control is so assumed that it is off the major radar systems of even the folks who are aware of what’s coming down the pike. We have a very male sex entitled culture which will only feel more entitled when they get to play alpha male survivalist.

    None of this bodes well for women.

  32. Rebeccaon 19 Mar 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Here’s some more anecdotal evidence from around here: organic wheat flour (when you can find it) has almost doubled in price in the past six weeks. Rice has gone up by several percent. Dog and cat food is climbing too; I laid in a 3 month supply for my four-legged friends today for $66, at least $4 more than the last time.

    As far as birth control goes, I hate to say this (and I expect to get flamed for it) but I expect the abortion rate will go back up as things get tougher. It has long been a historical method of population control (especially in the first trimester when herbs will often work) when birth control has failed, and it is much better than infanticide (often also used as population control in the past).

    Sharon, please do write that review of WMBH. I would love to read it. ;-)

  33. Idaho Locavoreon 19 Mar 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Amelia, my condolences on your grandfather. I hope your grandmother can find some peace as she deals with her loss. They must have been very close.

    On a different subject, I had a good laugh over your eyeball imagery! Thanks, I needed that today. :-)

    Sharon, so you saw it too, eh? I suppose it was likely the same ad – but on the other hand, I guess there could certainly be more than one of them out there. What a thought…

  34. Jen H.on 19 Mar 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Whoa, glad I didn’t run out and read Kunstler’s latest– as if I need something else to be annoyed by. I am exceedingly tired of rampant sexism. Glad I’m not the only one who notices. It makes it that much harder to determine actual noise-to-signal ratio, as you so aptly put it, Idaho Locavore.

    Sharon, thanks for considering my request! I wish I had the cope-by-getting-down-to-work gene. Or maybe this is a learned skill. I do get down to work, it just doesn’t always help me cope.

  35. Alanon 19 Mar 2008 at 10:27 pm

    >Re: good neighbor feeding the crowds – why not require that people bring their own plate? Then they don’t have to remember to return yours, and you don’t have to stockpile paper. No matter how bad it gets, people will be able to scrounge up their own plate or bowl or mug. Reuse.
    Jen H,
    I can think of lots of emergency situations where many people have nothing but the clothes on their backs — floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, all can leave dozens or thousands of people with no dishes (or clothes, or bedding, or shelter, or potable water).

    Certainly, using paper plates and plastic forks is to be avoided in favor of using real dishes. (I’m the kind of guy who takes his own plate, flatware and cloth napkin to a potluck and to work for lunch.) But I still know that there are plenty of situations where that’s not a reasonable or feasible option.

    And, for what it’s worth, paper plates are compostable (at least the inexpensive non-plastic coated ones) and the food “contamination” on them which makes them unacceptable for paper recycling just makes them more attractive to organisms in the compost bin. Likewise, plastic flatware can be reused many times if it is treated carefully and washed properly.

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