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How we need to prepare


One mans junk is another mans gold

In the west we have evolved into a throwaway society over the last few decades. Everything we seem to buy nowadays has a limited life and seems to be designed to self destruct immediately after the warranty period has expired. These units seem unable to be repaired and require replacement with the old units being simply thrown away. Expiry dates are put on foods and the food need disposed of regardless of its viability. Nowadays of course we have a new fad called recycling where each of us spend time every day playing homage to the recycling gods by sorting through our rubbish just so they can be dumped in the same landfill by our council officials. The principle of recycling is sound though. The fact is many of us have been doing it for years before it became a religion. On the plus side the emphasis on recycling and reducing wastage it does cause manufacturers to review their packaging and component contents and it does lead towards sustainability.

You can minimise your requirement to replace goods by talking to repair engineers, they can recommend the best units which last longer, can be repaired and do the job day after day without requiring an engineering degree to maintain. Also, look at what you are replacing. Does it actually need replacing? Usually, and this is a man/woman thing, items are thrown out not because they are of no use but because it is felt that it is time for replacement. Perfectly good units, beds, chairs, etc. are discarded because it is time for redecorating. Can they be refurbished, repainted or reused?

As far as food waste is concerned, sure, check your food expiry dates but be sensible. Is it still useable? “If it smells funny or looks funny don’t put it in your mouth, if it tastes funny spit it out.” use your common sense. If it is of no use to you recycle it. Look at your non food waste as well; can it be reused for anything? If not can it be recycled? If not it goes in the waste for landfill.

Those of us with a survival bent are usually advocates of recycling. Not sorting into bins for disposal but actually reuse. Many items that are thrown out by households and businesses are still of use to others. One of my pet hates is that the local tip, sorry, recycling centre, does not allow people to retrieve anything thrown away by others. Perfectly good wood and other items are sitting there waiting to be used but destined for the landfill and unable to be retrieved. Yet, they lecture us about recycling.

Look at what you are throwing away, can it be reused? There are many uses for most things. Plastic bottles can be used to store and sterilise water and make small traps. Toilet paper and kitchen roll tubes can be used as containers to start seeds for planting, make fire starters and, don’t laugh, making robots to keep the kids entertained. Blue Peter training showing through. Old units can be turned into new units or simply storage space. Food waste can be turned into nice compost or used as foodstuff for your chickens, ducks or fish. Paper waste can be composted or made into a fire starter. In fact the only stuff I actually have to throw away is the cat litter, plastic wrapping and polystyrene packaging. Almost everything else is reused or recycled.

Whenever I see a skip up a neighbour’s path I always go and have a quick look at what they are throwing away. If anything is of interest I pop in and ask them if I can have it. So far nobody has objected to me retrieving anything although I’m not clear what it is doing to my reputation.

Of course, as with everything, there is a downside to reuse and recycling. For one it takes time to sort out the items and make the fire starters, for example, when I can buy twenty from a manufacturer for a small amount. It is down to time and cost again. The major downside though is that it takes a lot of space to store all these items. Lucky for me I have plenty of space but it is difficult living in a family home where everyone sees your useful storage as junk. Find a balance that suits your space, time and family situation.

In the meantime, keep your eyes open when you are out. You never know where you will find interesting stuff you can scavenge.

6 comments to One mans junk is another mans gold

  • Skvez

    “Nowadays of course we have a new fad called recycling where each of us spend time every day playing homage to the recycling gods by sorting through our rubbish just so they can be dumped in the same landfill by our council officials. ”
    This is a myth. It has occurred on a few occasions but the cost of collecting recycling separately from general landfill makes it prohibitive to do anything as stupid as you mention. Most recycling *is* recycled.

    “As far as food waste is concerned” … “If it smells funny or looks funny don’t put it in your mouth, if it tastes funny spit it out.”
    This simple rule worked for generations of people before Use By Dates infected our minds.

    Be careful when proposing “skip dipping”, things in the skip are the property of the skip owner, not the person who hired the skip and threw them in the skip!

  • Skean Dhude


    Recycling has been going on for a while now. Originally voluntary and all items collected were recycled. Only items that were viable to recycle were collected and people made money from other peoples waste. Now that councils have taken over the tax raising.. sorry mantle of recycling they have modified it so many items are not cost effective to recycle plus because they are forcing people who don’t want to do it they get rubbish in with the good stuff and recycling companies don’t pay for that as it is not cost effective for them to sort. Much is therefore discarded and put in landfill. The papers have many documented cases of recycling being dumped together in a ship and exported for landfill. There are places in the UK with recycling mountains waiting for the changes, or legislation, to make it viable to be recycled. The cost of recycling is met by the tax payer, not a company and thus costs have no real bearing on the matter.

    You are right about the looks and taste tests. I forgot to put that full statement down. I’ll modify the text to reflect it. It has worked for thousands of years.

    I was careful to say I asked permission before skip diving. Theft is theft even if it is rubbish.

  • Skvez

    My point about skip dipping is that once the item that your neighbour is throwing away hits the skip (it my understanding of UK law that) it is no longer your neighbours to tell you you may have it. It belongs to the company that hired the skip to your neighbour.
    Now it’s unlikley they will prosecute you since
    1] They didn’t know it was in the skip.
    2] They probably didn’t want it anyway (they were going to have to dispose of it).
    But strictly speaking you are stealing it even with permission of whomever threw it in the skip!

  • Skean Dhude


    Thanks for pointing that out as I didn’t know that law existed. UK law, isn’t it wonderful. A law for everything and none for justice.

  • moosedog

    Websites like Yahoo’s freecycle are a great way to pick up things that someone else doesn’t want, or to give away things you don’t have a use for any more.

    Great to see a survival website for us in the U.K. Many thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Skean Dhude


    I’ll have a look there. The other sites like that used to be very US centric. As you are from the UK I assume that this one is for us.

    I’m glad you like it. With your help we will make this one really useful for all UK preppers.

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