I was trolling about the internet the other day, as I’m wont to do, and stumbled across and interesting site: Next Preppers. Their stock-in-trade seems to be list posts, of the “X items that will help you survive the apocalypse” sort. Some of them seem pretty meh; a few of the lists are pretty good. And, whatever the overall quality of the lists, I’m sure there’s food for thought in each of them.
One in particular caught my eye: “8 Forgotten Ways Your Great-Grandparents Survived Hard Times.” I’m all about doing things the “old way,” so I gave it a read, and I’d like to go through it here.
- They asked themselves: “Do I really need this?” I really like that this started their list. It’s a question we don’t, in my opinion, ask ourselves nearly often enough. If we paid more mindfulness to what we truly need, versus things we merely want, we’d go a long way towards decluttering life, cutting back on waste, and saving money.
- They slowed life down. The author meant “they weren’t so quick to replace things with the latest and greatest;” in my opinion, that falls under item #1. By slowing life down, I’d be more inclined to mean remember that ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ It’s not necessarily as important that things get done right now, so long as they get done–and, preferably, done right. Often, that takes a little more time than our instant-gratification culture would like.
- They thought twice, then bought once. Again, this seems to me to fall under #1. I’d suggest, rather, that when you’ve decided that buying something is necessary, you do some research, determine what exactly you need, find the thing that provides that, and get the best-quality widget you can afford. (And while I’m all about being patriotic, “Buy American!” doesn’t always get you the best thing out there… Globalism, for its many drawbacks, does have the occasional benefit.)
- They re-used and re-purposed. This is one that I can really get into. I’m all about keeping things out of the waste-stream, and if I can find secondary (or tertiary, or quaternary…) uses for things, I very much like to use them. There’s more than one piece of furniture in my house that’s kept level with snippets of the cardboard packaging that things came from. Bags from the grocery store generally get at least three uses before being disposed of…
- They asked good questions. The author goes into asking “how much toothpaste, really, do you need?”, which is as good a case in point as any, I suppose. (Hint: it’s not the caterpillar of toothpaste they show in the commercials…) But I’d expand it to thinking about not just what happened in a certain event, but to go a step beyond that to why. Treating first principles (causes), while it can be more difficult, tends to be more efficient in the long run than treating secondary effects.
- They were willing to wait. To my eye, this is similar to point #2 above. I don’t have much to add, beyond the concept of a “cooling-off” period when you go to make larger purchases. If you feel the urge to buy something above an arbitrary amount, make a note, and put off the purchase for a set period (overnight, at least; ideally, a bit longer). If, after that period, you still want to buy it, and haven’t come up with a work-around or cheaper option, go for it.
- They did things themselves. Another one that I agree with completely. Just about everything that’s out there to be done can be done by someone, and there’s no reason that someone can’t be you. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; learn to take things apart (and, preferably, put them back together). Change your tire. Change the oil in your car. Fix an electrical outlet that’s gone on the fritz. Replace the blades on your lawnmower. Believe me, there are instructional books out there–and Youtube is definitely your friend.
- They repaired, rather than replaced. This is the logical follow-on to #7 and #4, with a healthy dose of #1 and #3 thrown in the mix. If something is broken, it very often can be fixed–and usually for less than it would cost to replace. (And if you can fix it yourself, which you very often can, it costs still less.) Modern “disposable” culture really carries with it a significant burden on the environment, as well.
What do you think, readers? Any other commentary on these points? What other points do you think should be added? Let us know in the comments!