What I Store that Isn't Food

Sharon July 15th, 2008

Several people have asked me to write about my non-food storage more than I have (there’s a post here on the subject, which includes links to someone else’s recommended list).  This is one of those places where I start looking like a doomer wacko, I realize, but I do think that it is worth talking about.

 Right now, every shipping container that crosses the ocean has the equivalent of a 9% tariff on goods coming in from rising oil costs.  That doesn’t include the cost of the oil in the products itself – it isn’t just food whose price is rising out of the reach of ordinary people.  At the same time as food and gas eat up more of our budgets, it gets harder and harder to buy other stuff.

 Now a lot of us have more stuff than we need – but often, it isn’t the right stuff for a low energy world.  For example, most of us have winter wardrobes that are not designed to live in a house with minimal or no supplemental heating.  And yet, that’s a real possibility in the northern parts of the country this coming year.  Think about – most fuel oil companies have a minimum delivery of 100-150 gallons of oil – otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to run the truck.  Most small companies can’t afford to grant credit anymore, because of the sheer number of people defaulting on payment – and many smaller companies have gone out of business. Natural gas is expected to spike as well, while utilities will be renegotiating their shutoff policies.  Many people won’t be able to afford winter heating bills in the several thousand dollars, particularly advance payments on the order of 5-600 dollars for oil.  So they will switch to small electric space heaters – and grid use will spike as well, during the coldest weather.  We may see blackouts, because of this, but eventually people’s power will get shut off as well, unless mandates against shut offs are strictly enforced.  So many people will be living with minimal or no heat.  They need warm stuff for this – and most of them probably don’t have it, since all buildings have been 70 degrees for most of their lives.

Right now we can all go shopping at Goodwill and garage sales for cheap clothes and shoes – but what happens as more and more people need those cheap goods, and other people stop having the money to buy stuff and dispose of it for pennies on the dollar shortly afterwards – the quality of goods at yard sales will fall, and the competition will rise.  Or think about books – the sheer quantity of books available are a product of an affluent society that can afford to spend $25 bucks on a hardcover.  Sure, a lot of them are junk, but a lot of them aren’t – the library sales are filled with volumes for a quarter.  What happens as the library acquisition budgets are slashed (more) and the cheap books stop running over?  Or, G-d forbid, when the books are worth more to keep warm than to read (ok, there are some books out there that are already worth more for their burnable value, but you know what I mean ;-) )

So here’s my list of things I’m storing.  Now I have a big old farmhouse, and some disposable income, so this would be different for other people who don’t.  I’m not saying you need these things – this is me, and my list, offered for your perusal.

1. Shoes – I have a thing about shoes.  You see, I have crappy eyesight, and there is zippo chance I will ever shoot a deer for moccasins.  I’ve made felted boots and slippers, and could put old tires on the bottom of them with some work.  But I don’t want to.  I like good shoes.  And with four boys going through three or four sizes a year, I already can barely afford to keep my kids shod ;-) . Goodwill is my friend. Yardsales are my friend.  Bigger sizes while they are cheap are my friend. 

I store extra kids shoes, and also extra boots and shoes for me and the husband. 

2. Blankets!!!!  It is going to be a cold winter for a lot of people.  The thing is, it is perfectly feasible to sleep without supplemental heating – but you need blankets, and lots of them.  Down is lovely, as are wool blankets, but almost anything will work if you layer enough of them.  These are often cheap at yard sales and goodwill.  Since I’m guessing we’re the abode of last resort, I want to have lots of these so that no one is cold.

They are also great to insulate your windows from cold loss, to hang on walls that are drafty, to make rigged “four poster” beds that are kept warm by your body heat and for a host of other reasons.  Blankets are important – sleeping bags are especially great and often show up at my Goodwill.  Other bedding is good if you are expecting a lot of people to come to you. 

3. Yarn – Ok, I don’t need this, but I like it.  Hats, mittens, fingerless gloves and wool socks are, I think, the key to happiness in cold weather, and I really like to knit,.  So I get happiness and warm stuff – this is not bad.  Or maybe this is just an excuse to have yarn ;-) .

4. Books – I’m a junkie anyway, so like yarn, this might just be an excuse to buy stuff I like.  But in my case, five miles from a rural library which has a great kids section, but for adult material is better than mine only in the category of biographies of first ladies, biographies of first ladies’ dogs and Romance Novels, my feeling is that I *am* the really local library.  We have a big house, and most of it has books in it – many thousands.  And since I’m a writer, I never know what I’ll want to research next – I’m constantly hauling out random piles of books, looking for some fact or a quote I liked. 

We’re also homeschoolers – and we think the best way to get the kids to read a lot is to read to them and have a lot of books around for them to choose from.  

Yes, we invest in how-to books, but we’re also looking ahead to days when resources are dearer and our older kids may need homeschooling resources – physics textbooks and art history books are as important as how to books.  Novels, of course - the frivolous and the serious.  History books galore.  We buy a lot of books very cheaply – they are so undervalued right now.

5. OTC medications, soap, basic toiletries – I’ll do a seperate post on my medicine cabinet at some point, so I’ll leave these. Most toiletries we don’t bother with, but we do use a few things.  Baking soda can cover a myriad of sins, though.

6. Project materials – you know how you start building something (the bookshelves, the chicken tractor, the fruit press, whatever) or repairing something (the overalls, your bike, the chainsaw) and you suddenly realize you don’t have the parts for it, and you have to go to the store, and put the project aside until you do have the right parts?  Well, some of this is unavoidable – things will break, and you won’t have the part.  Still, some of this is predictable – buttons come off, things need nails and screws, hooks and chains.  There are obvious parts of things that break or frequently need repair, and often these things are cheap.  But as gas gets more expensive, the special trip to the notions store, the hardware store, etc… gets less frequent, and that means putting the needed item away longer.  So having a reserve of these items is useful, and often not very expensive.  Anything that fastens one thing to another, any part that is especially vulnerable, and basic repair kits are high on this list.  And if you have the opportunity to scavenge scrapwood or things that might be usefully taken apart and repurposed, this is good (provided you have space to store these things).

7. Clothes in larger – and smaller – sizes.  Everything I said about shoes goes here too, particularly since I do not like to sew (because it involves ironing and cutting carefully on lines and measuring, all things I loathe ;-) ) and am not good at it (for the reasons listed above), I’m all for storing a few sizes up.  I also store a few sizes down, because I have high hopes that peak oil (and self-discipline, if I can stockpile that ;-) ) will be good for my weight issues.

8. Intermediate technology tools – think simple things that can run on human power or readily available things.  Oil lamps, manual woodworking tools, treadle sewing machine, etc…  These often show up at auctions, and are useful even if the world doesn’t end and you just want to cut your energy budget.  In some cases the powered replacement is better – powering lights with electricity is less polluting than almost any other form of lighting, except perhaps very local beeswax candles.  But in some cases, they really aren’t.  I like the treadle sewing machine better than the regular one – it is tough and effective, and my dough mixer or my hands much better than a bread machine.  All are worth experimenting with.

9. Extra dishes.  In a crisis, we could expect quite a crowd, depending on where people were coming from.  I like people to have enough to eat, and a chance to eat it at my house.  Dishes are available at every yard sale, often very cheaply.  There are some issues if you keep kosher, as I do, but for most people, cheap dishes are a good deal.  I like to be able to feed a crowd.

10. Bicycles.  People dispose of these frequently, and since I have growing kids, functional, decent bikes are a valuable thing.  There are some older brands that are particularly worth buying – I’ll see if I can dig up a list and post it shortly.

11. Some toilet paper.  Now I think cloth is probably a better solution to any long-term problem.  But toilet paper is one of those niceties, and not everyone I know who might come to my house is cloth-tp ready.  Plus, there are times of illness when you’d rather not use a reusable.  So this is one item I buy in bulk.  I don’t buy a lot of disposable things, but tp we do use.

12. Basic medical care items - again, I’ll do a full list, but in emergencies, hospitals and doctors are often overburdened, and the ability to meet basic medical needs at home – and also to understand when you need a doctor or other professional is, IMHO, important.  

 Other suggestions?


95 Responses to “What I Store that Isn't Food”

  1. dewey says:

    Vegan – Colloidal silver is not poisonous, but it can cause argyria. Silver deposits in the body and over time can turn the skin bluish gray so that you look like an extra from Day of the Dead. IMHO, it is not a good idea to use this on a regular basis in children too young to consent to the risk of permanent disfigurement.

    Mercuria, above, asked if we were preparing for an acute crisis or a permanent lifestyle change. I wonder the same thing, suspecting as I do that our masters would rather start World War III than allow the Empire to decline gracefully. As I see it, if permanent economic decline is foreseen, there is no point in creating enormous stockpiles to try to preserve the current way of life indefinitely. Have a few extra toothbrushes if you like, because acute disruptions might make them vanish from the stores at some point. But there is no point in having twenty years’ worth, because if they are gone for twenty years, they are probably gone permanently, and we or our descendants will at some point have to bite the bullet (or twig) and learn to utilize alternatives.

    Also, if things really go to hell, John Michael Greer has observed that those who are seen to be living off stockpiles will be targets for theft and mob violence – and government violence would be an equal risk. OTOH, if we have economic collapse without total chaos, a great many people will find themselves losing their housing, and whether they move to apartments or the sister-in-law’s couch, there will be no room to store their stockpiles there, and perhaps no money to rent the semi-trailer to move them. I am taking the opposite approach of trying to reduce superfluous stuff, and trying to get my husband to do the same, so that we can sort out the essential from the clutter – and perhaps so that we could save our house by taking in boarders if need be. I have recently reduced my personal home library from over 800 to about 280 and feel very comfortable with that. The 80:20 rule does seem to hold – twenty percent of your stuff has eighty percent of the use value, very roughly anyway, and the cost to maintain the other eighty percent just seems to me a burden perhaps better avoided.

  2. MEA says:

    Thanks very much for the link.

  3. Sara R says:

    aluminum foil
    plastic wrap
    wax paper
    canning jars and lids (as already mentioned)

  4. Carla says:


  5. Tara says:

    Lisa Z -

    I’m also a safety pin hoarder. I’m afraid I can’t recommend a good source, though. All mine came from the years spent dry cleaning my clothes for my office job. Various dry cleaners over the years have provided me with more safety pins and hangers than I can shake a stick at.

  6. Tara says:

    Also, bullets. Whether for defense or hunting, they are rapidly rising in price.

  7. Cassi says:


    (maybe this is under the ‘Food’ category, but I wouldn’t want to eat it…

    And some ‘TopSpot’ or diatomaceous earth for fleas…

    And a carrier or two for cats…

    CLorox, for water prifucation and sterilizing

    Grapefood seed extract for all-around antibiotic use ( esp. topical) and disinfectant.
    It’s very strong, so a quart could last a really really long time… and might ward off ‘bird flu’…

    Paper towels — a luxury now for us — I use rewashable mechanic’s shop towels from Sam’s Club…

    Vacuum packed coffee on sale for bartering…

    Activated charcoal
    powder for many health issues…

    PAPER! 8 1-2 X 11″ reams.
    Plus pencils. Lots of pencils…

    Could go on and on…

    A solar charger for small things like a laptop, or dvd player (we have accumulated tons of DVD’s…)

    Cassi (short for Cassandra…)

  8. Becky says:

    I almost forgot the stash of paper plates stored in the attic. Why paper plates? Handy, if washing dishes is not always an available option.
    Under the tool section: Machetes and crowbars, big, huge crowbars! We live in a earthquake zone.

  9. Chile says:

    Extra pair(s) of eyeglasses if you wear them!

  10. Eva says:

    Food for thought
    How far will you be prepared to go to protect your stash? It represents a lot of work and will be worth a lot. Many desperate people will want it, too. How will you deal with this situation?

    How long will you be able to hold out with your supplies or local barter only? Every pile no matter how big is finite. Then what?

  11. Ani says:

    I guess I don’t really think of it as “stocking up” or prepping for PO. Normally I try to be both minimalist while also keeping stuff around that I might need to use if that makes sense.I don’t like clutter especially, but I do keep stuff such as canning jars and lids, lumber, nails/screws, etc on hand that I always end up needing. I have some extra blankets and pillows for guests, and ample dishes/utensils/mugs to feed a good sized bunch of friends. I don’t want to have to run to the store for everything so I buy it when it’s on sale, etc.

    That said I guess I can’t get into the idea of trying to stock up for something like PO- it’s not an event really- it’s going to be the new normal. How am I going to prep for that by buying stuff? Do I buy enough to last me the rest of my life? Guess I figure that what I don’t have I’ll do without if it comes to that.

    Have noticed that the pickings at the local thrift store have been very slim lately- lots of dumb knicknacks but no canning jars, casserole dishes, etc and little good clothing as well as minimal blankets and sheets. Wonder if lots of people are trying to stash stuff away? I do urge people to not hoard though- that will only create scarcity when none is necessary.

  12. Heather Gray says:

    Posted last night but it didn’t work… trying again, with mods for all the new posts since last night.

    Yarn is good! I have that and also roving/fleece to spin — they make good insulation on the outer walls in the meantime, before they become other things.

    Lot of good suggestions posted here in addition to Sharon’s!

    - extra bicycle inner tubes, because we don’t have a bike shop near us, and they’re a good thing to have when you’re biking anyway.

    Other sites for used/new book searches:
    http://www.alibris.com and http://www.bookfinder.com

    ToilingAnt, since you live on the Gulf Coast, maybe you could ask your MIL if it would be okay for you to store a few buckets of emergency supplies at her home, in case there’s a big hurricane and you have to evacuate? It wouldn’t be a huge supply of course, but it would help some. Just a thought.

    Hadn’t thought of shoestrings, I guess in part because if we really needed to we could make them — fingerloop braiding is a useful skill and there are different types of braided laces you can make, including round and flat types.

    On games/activities, I’d like to add that some books on games/activities/hobbies are good to have. There are a lot of different games that can be played with cards and/or dice, and if you have scrap wood or cloth and a pen or paint you can make some of the game boards, and use rocks, bits of wood, buttons, or borrow pieces from other games for a new game. We use some of our games more regularly than others. And we have limited space in the apartment itself, so many are in storage for now.

    For communication, I’ll second Ham radio. You don’t have to know CW (Morse Code) anymore to get a license. Lyle and I are just getting starting learning about it, and found out from someone we were talking to at the farmers market recently that there’s an experienced guy not too far away from us. We’ll be introducing ourselves to him at some point in the not too distant future. Hams love having folks wanting to learn about amateur radio, and they’ll help you with advice on equipment and stuff. Ham radio operators are quite often the folks who keep emergency operations teams in communication during disasters, when all the modern cell phones and such get disrupted. They help during the wild fires, hurricanes, and most recently the fires in CA and the floods in the Midwest. To find a club near you, go to: http://www.arrl.org

    And one more thing! For the folks who can store a lot of things, after you’ve safely stored things you don’t need to use right now and organized everything — label them! I’m still working on that because of the seemingly inevitable unlabeled boxes from moving quickly from a house to an apartment, sigh.

  13. Ailsa Ek says:

    What is the difference between preparing and hoarding? I thought it was one of those, “If I do it, it’s preparing, if you do it, you’re a little obsessive, if he does it, it’s hoarding.”

  14. Vegan says:

    Dewey, the myth regarding prudent use of colloidal silver causing argyria is debunked here:


  15. Meadowlark says:

    I actually live in the town where the “Blue Man” used to live. My daughter lived in the same apartment complex. He was silvery-grey-blue and he said it was colloidal silver.
    Not trying to be a troublemaker, but I physically saw him as did my daughter.
    Just my useless two cents.

    And as far as protecting my stuff? Sorry to sound bad, but full-auto weapons. Gun controls sounds great to everyone until they need to protect their stuff. Then we’ll see what the gun control advocates are saying.

  16. YaelH says:

    Hi Sharon!

    great list!!–its Yael again, of course asking about kosher things

    this is something Ive been wondering a lot about—dishes and kashrut…I have asked a rabbi but his answer was basically “its almost impossible to kasher used dishes” –since Im not the biggest fan of this rabbi anyways it caused me to raise my eyebrows…

    how do you guys kasher your used dishes?

  17. I’m a gun owner, and good with them, and as we are not vegetarian, and prefer to keep predators at bay, regard them as farm tools.

    But let’s think about what it would be like to try to take on desperate, armed and experienced people coming up the driveway.

    No amount of knowledge of the properties of, say .38 versus 9mm, 20 ga. No. 2 buck versus 12 ga. slug, or the cost-effectiveness of .223 cal. versus the expense of .308, or discussion of the size of your “groups” will be much good if it’s three of you inside a wooden house and sixteen of them with a box of matches.

    This is why I’m paying attention to what Sharon’s saying. Community. Community way outweighs Hollywood.

    “Friends will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no friends.”

    My dad used to tell us that the Depression (the one in his day) was hard-edged, that there was a lot of meanness brought out in some people in some places. But “most folks looked out for each other. We would walk ten miles to help raise a barn, because if the folks ten miles away didn’t have a barn, they might come looking to you for enough to eat, and you might not have it for them. So everybody helped everybody out. Had to. And then they’d stay for the music.”

  18. Kati says:

    My Non-food stock-piling has included spare sewing needles and thread, candles and matches, fabric for clothing (though not enough by a long stretch) and yarn (cotton, wool-ease, and acrylic) for socks, afghans, etc; I’ve got a seperate stash of fabric SPECIFICALLY for reusuable pads; shampoos & conditioners; soap (I LOVE handmade soaps and would “collect” this anyway); books piled to the eaves (almost literally) though I hope to soon get a job at the local library and be the town librarian through hard-times (that’s no pipe-dream, either, I’ve interviewed at this library 2 times now, a 3rd coming up and they’re running out of reasons to NOT hire me); blankets (esp. afghans). I’m encouraging the hubby to stock up on whatever tools he’s missing or thinks he might need (except the electric or rechargable kind).

    One thing I’d like to mention that goes along with sewing and knit/crochet is materials for embroidery. Past peasant cultures always seem to have a STRONG tradition of beautiful embroidery. What a way to liven up an otherwise drab wardrobe of salvaged clothing than to embroider it a bit with some fanciful flowers or patterns. Cards of embroidery thread don’t take up a LOT of room, nor do a packet of embroidery needles. Those and a simple children’s book of embroidery patterns (and how-to instructions) could go a long way to making one a little happier about the home-spun and much-repaired clothing one might be required to wear.

  19. Sandy says:

    I LOVE your blog. And I hear you on the shoe thing. I stock up on good quality shoes in all sizes too (I have 4 girls). You must be my long lost sister — I have made felted wool sweater slippers though I considered sewing to bottoms leather soles from an old leather coat I have stored in the attic. We homeschool too and I realize I am to the point where I can homeschool through college if I had to with the books we have on hand. This is only because our neighbor gave us two boxes of books that were a set his parents got with the encyclopedias they had purchased in the 80s. It is 50 volumes including Homer, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Plutarch, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Shakespeare, Galileo, Pascal , Tolstoy, et al. Okay I have burned a couple of hours on your blog and my kids need breakfast. Where did my morning go?

  20. Lisa Z says:

    Vegan said: Please do not listen to AMA and big pharma propaganda whose intent is to push expensive chemical/industrial medicine. According to them, herbs can be toxic as well and so many people distrust and will not use herbal medicine because of misinformation.

    Vegan, I’m an herbalist and work as the health and body care Buyer at our local natural foods co-op. I hardly listen to the AMA and big pharma. I buy colloidal silver to stock the shelves at the shop. I’ve done some research, though not extensive.

    I must say I’m just going to err on the side of caution with colloidal silver. It’s a heavy metal. Just like mercury, lead, all the others. Abe Lincoln used to take mercury pills for his depression, now we’re all afraid to eat tuna. I said “small doses”, “small doses”, know what you’re doing, and be cautious!

    All herbal remedies come with the same warning from me. And it’s because they’re incredibly powerful, potent medicines, not because they’re a bunch of bunk and dangerous as big pharma/AMA would say.

    Lisa in MN

  21. dewey says:

    Now that I am suffering a frackin’ Biblical plague of Drosophila, I will suggest:


    Would be very good for my mental health if I had some. And more seriously, if you live in a warm wet area with lots of mosquitos, make sure you have good window screens or else netting for bed nets. If you lose power in the summer, you’ll have to open windows or roast, and you want some protection from possibly disease-bearing skeeters.

  22. Oh, I am SO with you on yarn and books! That may push me over to coming to your house instead of Camp Teotwawki.

  23. Cynthia says:

    At the risk of sounding very non-PC– what about cigarettes? I am not a smoker, but I have extended family who smoke, and it strikes me that a time of emergency is not the optimal time to ask someone to quit smoking (or live with someone who is suddenly forced to do so.) Some of these smokers may be on my doorstep in an evacuation, or long term emergency. Does anyone know how long cigarettes will store, whether it helps to freeze them, etc?
    Also, in very bad times they can be a valuable barter item, though that isn’t my first thought.
    Please don’t bash me for this question; cigarette addiction is a serious issue and it would be really helpful to allow my relatives to taper off rather than deal with people going cold turkey at a time when we need their energy and good will more than ever.

  24. Gina says:

    I thought of something else I “hoard”: Windows! One post on my local Freecycle resulted in many responses. I ended up with many beautiful, old windows to use for a recycled greenhouse. Of course, this was two summers ago and I have yet to build it…

  25. MEA says:

    Random thoughts on hoarding/storage

    I used to think if I buy those beans today, someone else can’t buy them tomorrow. Now I think, and this may be a ratinalization, that as long as the beans are moving from the warehouse to the store, to my house, it’s making room for more beans to get to the store and to other people’s houses. If we stop buying beans, and they back up in the warehouse, they won’t get distrubuted. If I feel I have more than my share of beans, I can give them to the soup kitchen, or my aunt Fanny, or freecycle them. Once we lose the ability to get stuff on the stores’ shealves, then I’d leave what is there for others, and start living off my stored beans.

    The purpose of my hording beans and shoes and who knows whatelse, is that I’m hoping we’ll go through a transition. As it happens, I have an elderly neighbor who is a cobbler. Let’s assume he can also makes shoes. The ballon goes up. He has the skill, but very little raw material. He can take my older daughters old boots and patch them for the younger one in a few moments stolen from enlarging his garden, but he doesn’t have time to scrounge for materials or make a lot of new shoes.

    Couple of years go by, Someone’s started to tan leather from the deer torn apart by enraged mobs of gardeners; my neighbor has a bit more time; I have stopped putting all my effort into growing spuds, and have pruned my raspberies. Now I have the luxery goods to trade for 1) the leather to make the shoes and 2) pay the cobbler turned shoemaker to make them.

    How far would I go to protect it — who knows. But frankly, if enough people wanted it badly enough, they’d get it. That’s why I’m with the posts who value community over guns. They are a useful tool, but better to be on good terms with her neighbors if you have to chose.


  26. Rosa says:

    Cynthia, I think that’s a good question. But don’t most serious smokers keep them on hand?

    I have grown a little ceremonial tobacco, when I had a big garden in Iowa. It grows in a surprising number of places. It’s a good garden addition because it’s super poisonous – I don’t think even deer will eat it – and the tobacco tea will kill a wide range of insects.

  27. Sharon says:

    I’m going to do another post on the preparing/hoarding distinction, because I think it needs talking about.

    Yael, I’m recommending other people buy used dishes, but unfortunately, your Rabbi is right – it is pretty much impossible to kasher china, as far as I know. There are several strategies one might take with this.

    1. Buy the used dishes anyway and just accept that in a crisis, you’ll have to use them.

    2. Buy cheap new dishes – I find them at yardsales in the boxes sometimes.

    I’m actually hoping to save up enough money to buy 16 place setting each of enameled metal – because then I can’t ever break my dishes ;-) . Attrition is a problem for me ;-)


  28. Gina says:

    I was using the word ‘hoarding’ tongue-in-cheek, but I looked ‘hoard” up in the dictionary (if anyone is interested) and it actually means “To gather and store away; accumulate”. Funny thing, it has gotten to be a bad word of sorts.

  29. Yael says:

    aha! thanks for clarifying Sharon!

  30. Squrrl says:

    I feel weird boosting my blog here, but I’ve put a fair bit of thought into this, and I’m now working on a series of lists (I’m a list kinda person), the first of which is up now here: http://runningthechanges.blogspot.com/2008/07/stocking-up.html It’s some opening thoughts on stocking up, along with a pretty substantial list of expendable items I have/mean to have stocks of. I think it might be of interest to some of you. I always like to look at other people’s lists when I’m trying to compile one of my own.

  31. 220vBrain says:

    Hello everyone,

    Well, it appears that you are doing a fine job of thinking about our dead ended future as it is right now. Very good!
    Posters here have gotten the message, and are making plans, which is more than the rest of the sheeple are doing. I expect that nearly 98% of the public is doing nothing at all. ( expecting miracles and gov’t hand outs ) And they will be the first to bitterly complain loud and long when their day to day paradigm shuts down, and they cannot find anything that is affordable or available to survive on!

    Here are some of my additions to all your excellent suggestions: In no particular order of importance,but necessary none the less…
    Rope; all kinds of rope. Hemp rope, cotton rope, nylon rope, all sorts of rope in many sizes and lengths. Don’t forget to pick up a rope cutter as well. Good old fashioned barnyard hemp woven rope is invaluable from everything from tying down canvases, to hauling logs with a horse. It can be used to make a makeshift fenced in area for live stock, you name it, rope can play a part in making it easier…
    A Comealong Pulley. No homestead should be without one.
    Ordinary tow chains. Get a couple of them. Can be used with comealong and with rope.
    Bailing wire. Get many spools of fencing or bailing wire in different gauges. This stuff can fix, hold, just about anything.
    Bailing wire and duct tape are two things I wouldn’t want to be without during any kind of crash. ( wire coat hangers also are very useful)
    An old fashioned soldering iron ( non electric ) and solder. Repair leaky tubs, tanks, buckets, electronics, whatever. Heat it on the wood stove, and then make your repair. You may want to gather some flux, and acid to accompany the solder.
    Adhesives/glues that keep long term..wood glue should be important, as it can help your furniture last for a long time to come. Rabbit glue cannot be beat…
    Gather up many, fuel burning type Blow Torches. Don’t set up without some on hand. Helps thaw out things, and is a terrific aide when working metals, soldering. Not everyone will have a forge, or a blacksmith available…
    Leather straps and belts of all kinds and sizes. Repair tack, use as tie downs or as a hinge. Leather belts can be used for so many things, it is hard to list them all. Gather a good leather knife and honing stone too. If you can afford it, buying leather working tools would be a good investment. Grab all those 25 cent mens leather belts from Goodwill, or the flea’s, and store them away in a dry area.
    CUTTING TOOLS; every kind and type of cutting tool you can think of.i.e…from a two man timber saw, to buck saw, all the way down to a coping saw. If it cuts wood, it is good! Wood shapers are gold too.
    Next; metal cutters, from hack saws and many blades, to chisels, benders, snips, shears, punches, files…if it can cut and shape metal, buy it now. ( the harvesting and reuse of scrap metal sky rockets after any sort of war, or culture crash. In the Pacific Islands, After WW2, the locals used every bit of useable scrap metal they could harvest from the war debris. ) In the Third World Island nations, salvaging scrap metal, is a full time industry)
    Gather any kind of anvil, or old hunk of rail track, or solid iron chunks that can be used to hammer out metal on.( rocks won’t work well)(neither will your knee!)
    Bolt Cutters…a couple of various sizes. Invariably, you’ll have to cut a lock, a chain, a fence, whatever…have the right tool to do the job quickly….cut it, get it, and go….
    Gather up electrical wire anywhere you can, and store it. Use a 55 gal drum or whatever, but grab any kind of wire you can get your paws on, and stuff it into your container. Trust me, at some point in time, your going to need electrical wire. Even after the full blown crash, there are going to be somethings that will work, that are electrical.
    (don’t forget to pick up any sort of electrical connectors that are soldered onto the wire ends either)(electricians tape is a must ) After the crash, copper core electrical wire will not be available…
    You may want to consider making and installing lightning rods, and ground wires on your home. I expect storms to be more severe and ferocious year after year…protect your homestead from lightning. ( have fire extinguishers too)
    Glass cutters! You will at some point, have to recut a piece of sheet glass, to fit a space where a window was broken out. Count on it. Remember to have an aluminum yard stick to use a guide to cut along…Lexan sheets will be the first to go, after a crash, because of home invasions…it is harder to cut as well. Think glass, recouped from trashed buildings and homes…gather up rolls of window screen wire whenever possible…screen is usable in many ways.
    Mirrors. All sizes and kinds. Very usable to relect light from an oil lamp,or candle, to brightening a darker room by catching the suns rays, to signaling across the way…Glass and metal mirrors will be needed. Very good trade items to. Make up mirrors can be used for nearly anything.
    I save nearly every kind of jar I get foodstuffs in from the grocery store. I remove the labels, rinse out, and put them in the dishwasher. Caps too. Then I store them away in big plastic bins for later use. I figure these will pan out to be very useful later, to save small portions of food in, or to give some one a jar of slumgullion soup, or hobo’s stew in. I also gather as many disposable knife and spork packettes as I can from from any fast food place…and I toss them into a container just for their storage. Good to hand out later with the slumgully or stew in a jar. [Remember to ask your neighbors if they may want help out making some Rock Soup! Many of you know what this is.... You got the big pot and stir stick, fire pit and grate,salt and pepper, all they need to do is bring something to help flavor up the "rocks"...Ummm good!]
    I am very anti tupperware or plastic wares for storing food in. They all leach chemicals…Dry type foods in them is a “maybe?”, but definitely not wet foods. The burp seal isn’t worth it to me! I can always taste plastic resin residue in wet foods stored in burped plastic containers. NASTY!
    Grab up as many types and kinds of wooden culinary tools as you can find. New or Used. Very useful. Heavy duty stainless ware as the kinds used in commerical kitchens have many uses. I have many huge spoons and paddles for stirring or mixing with. If you plan on feeding many in you crash community chow hall, you’ll want to have big stainless pots, and big stir stick thingy’s. Don’t forget sheet pans, useful for everything. Gather heavy duty oven shelves. Use them as cooling racks, or open fire pit grates. Make a cage out of them. Nail them over a window. Use them to defend your vehicle windows. ( screw or wire them down to vehicle body, fend off rocks and bricks) Millions of uses…hard to find.
    Butcher blocks,cutting boards. Every conceivable type of kitchen knife,( carbon steel )and truing steels, and a few sharpening stones. Wet and dry types. And gather bone saws. Eventually, if your tribe eats meat, you’ll have butchers on campus to prep it. Be equiped to handle it, rather than beating it apart with two rocks.
    OK, so far, that is quite a bit to digest…
    Breath, go get a drink, maybe take a potty break….back in 10 min.

    OK, let’s settle down, NOW, is everyone comfortable? YES? GOOD!

    Alright then, lets look at the roof over your head;
    All roofs will leak at some point in time. You can just throw a plastic tarp over the hole or damage, but that’s not a long term fix.
    So, you will need to think about how to do a rather reasonable long lasting repair to a roof that is leaking. I suggest the following; Rolls of roofing felt/tar paper/light weight canvas tarps. Plus, Buckets of roofing tars,brushes,brooms,trowels,gloves. You can repair a badly damaged roof with these simple to use items, and it will hold up quite a while. The trick is to cover the holes or damage with the tar paper, sealing every step with a coat of tar as you go. The canvas goes over the tar paper coated on both sides with tar. It would be advisable to nail down, or staple down, the paper and canvas as well. This is how tar paper shacks are built, and how old settlers made temporary shelters out of reinforced canvas tents. Later, they would add a cover of tin sheeting if it became available. Tar Paper Shack builders used to line the inner walls with cardboard layers, stuffing the wall space with shredded up news papers or rags as insulation.( even the old packing material called seltzer was used ) They also used old canvases,blankets,or scrap boards from crates to help make walls. ( the slums in Brazil have every type of shack made from trash,scrap, cast off materials. No bricks,no concrete blocks..just trash. Even tires!)
    In a crash event, you may not be able to call a roofer to come and repair your torn up roof. You’ll need cheap and simple materials to do the job,( Paper,tar,canvas ) and it will hold up better than a big plastic sheet pulled over the area that leaks. I doubt that very many home owners have squares or bundles of extra shingle stored away. Rolled roofing is heavier and harder to quickly work with, especially in cooler weather, than roofing paper,tar,and canvas.
    It has been mentioned before, but if you can find the space to store various thicknesses of Plywood sheets, you’ll be one big step ahead of the game, when trying to repair or secure your home in a panic filled crash disaster senario. Remember, old used doors are very useful for many purposes. If you see one set out to the road for pickup, grab it, store it. I try to grab wooden pallets when and where I can get one for free. If for no other reason than to burn it for heat. Never turn down any kind of free useable wood. Just keep it dry!
    Go to your local farm supplier depot, and pick up rolls of BARBED WIRE FENCING. In a TEOTWAWKI event, you’ll be glad you got it. Trust me! Theives in the night…hate barbed wire barracades.
    Grease and lubricants: Automotive type, and general purpose. Oils and Penetrates. Graphites and Waxes. Preservatives. Everything and anything that moves needs lubrication of some kind. Be sure to have it around. It may be a while before you can get it again. Good ole Vasoline is an all purpose item as well, make sure you have a lot of it. It is cheap to buy now! I don’t know about later on. It is a petroleum product, so I figure it will get hard to find later…
    AS a side note here: if you can still drive your vehicle, albeit limitedly, after Econ-Crash, make sure you have the simple things on hand to keep it running, and safe. Fuses, belts, bulbs, electrolites for the battery, anti-freeze/coolants, brake fluid, trans fluid, exhaust pipe repair tape, gas can, oil and all filters. Don’t plan on running your car for long, if it was due an oil and filter change 10,000+ miles ago, and you can’t change the oil, or even add oil…Keep the old oils, they can be used to water proof wood, as a rust preventive, or to lubricate metal cutting tools. But don’t throw it out. Hellsbelles, someone may even have an engine that can burn it for fuel, so barter it.
    I also have two extra sets of wheels and tires for our car. Plus tire patching kits…valve stems, cores, weights,lug nuts. (and locking lug nuts sets )( theives in the night and all that! ) In the attic of the garage, I have replacement radiators.
    Make sure you have a hand/foot operated tire pump. Don’t forget the tire gauge. Have several sets of car keys stored away. In panic ridden,not thinking clearly situations, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll forget where things are, or even misplace things, repeatedly…house, locks, and car keys are easy to misplace…

    SIDE BAR: I have a massive heavy duty chain that I can run around my rear axle, and then lock onto a heavy steel beam anchored into my garage floor. A thief would need a good cutting torch to cut it, trying to steal our Jeep 4×4. Either that or completely unbolt the rear axle, and then reattach it. Locking gas cap too. Lockable hood. Steering Wheel lock set up, that uses chain through the wheel to and an anchor welded to the frame. If and when I am away on a bicycle, or motorcycle, stealing the Jeep will be nearly impossible…secure your vehicle, even if you can’t drive it…it has value.

    This last item I am going to list for today, is an oddity, but, I think it is something to have around. That is an inflatable, 6-8 man floating platform that you can ride out a flood, or water surge in. Along with paddles to control it. I thought about kayaks,canoes, boats, etc, but, they take up a lot of valuable storage area, where as an inflatable raft, or tube, can be tucked away in a corner, or someplace where you can get it out, unfold it, blow it up, and stay out of filthy foul flood waters. ( I have mine on a shelve I built in the garage just for it. )I have kids plastic sand buckets that go with mine as water bale out aides. I also have six used (garage sale) life vests for it, along with 2, 100 ft. long polylines,a life ring, a 50 ft. nylon anchor line, A plastic cover up tarp, plastic thermo blankets, foul weather suits in bags,goggles, water proof/floating flash lights w/ cording, light sticks, a survival whistle, a survival combo knife, a small stainless axe, a Stainless Survival Rifle, .22 cal. in floatable case, a hand air pump w/ securing line, one case of drinking water pouches, net type bags, a plastic Coleman cooler that will float,( For MRE’s gathered and thrown into it, just before launch) a water proof survival compass,a plastic magnifiying glass, a flare gun in a water resistant container/bag, water proof matches, plastic canteens, I also took a smaller emergency kit ment for car trunks,( along with spools of fishing line,flies, lures, a raft patch kit,) put it in a medium size Thermos Brand Lunch Carrier,duct tape sealed it, and it is the rafts emergency kit. Plus one custom made defense spear, that floats and has a retrieving line. This raft is the kind that is used to raft down wild rivers. It wasn’t cheap! I don’t like the idea of suddenly being deluged and drowning. Floods can happen anywhere at any time…think about that!

    That is it for today, and I hope I have offered some food for thought. Your listings thus far are all excellent.

    You will find as I have, the more you think about all the basic simple needs you may want to have if our pardigm shuts down, and we have to become responsible for ourselves and our loved ones survival and safety, the list will grow and grow.

    It is hard not to go over board and want it all, just like we have it now, yet, we know we have to be realistic about it.

    It is hard to sort through all the WHIMS and WANTS, from what is really basically necessary.

    take care…

    the 220v Brain……bizzsst, spark, snap!

  32. Raging Grannie says:

    I didn’t have time to read all te comments, but one thing that’s been bothering me – EYEGLASSES! Will the fancy machinery, glass, plastic, etc. used to make glasses still be available??? Should we stock up on OTC as being better than nothing as people age?

    Hearing aids my be too much – where do you get those horns???

  33. Laura says:

    It you want backup dishes in case people show up on your doorstep in an emergency, just stock up on metal pie tins (no need for fancy enamelwear, the $1 metal pie tins are fine). They stack well and can be used for meals, for stews, for cereal, they can hold popcorn and snacks, desserts, you can bake in them, etc. They are very multi-purpose and they don’t break.

  34. ToilingAnt says:

    It has occurred to me that condoms and pregnancy tests would be killer barter items. Obviously there’s a shelf life to be considered, but even so!

    And along with that, how about a library of midwifery knowledge? :-P The Hesperian Foundation has a good basic textbook for midwifery, and lots of community health resources.

  35. Ex says:

    Did you by any chance ever find your bike list?

    10. Bicycles. People dispose of these frequently, and since I have growing kids, functional, decent bikes are a valuable thing. There are some older brands that are particularly worth buying – I’ll see if I can dig up a list and post it shortly.

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