Survival skills fascinate me. Not just surving when the s#$@ goes down, but doing it well.
Honestly, if the economy collapses tomorrow and the revolution comes, I am screwed. I can't light a fire to save my life (literally). I know the concept behind it - wood, arrayed in a way that allows kindling and air, accelerant (if you are lucky), add flame - but somehow it never becomes fire.
I possess the same sense of unease that many surburan Americans share - that we have become disconnected enough from our food supply chain, self health care, and utilities that if the systems would break down, it would be mass chaos leading to mass casualties. We have enough food to last several weeks in our house, but lack a good water supply. If tomorrow is not like today, my family would be screwed.
Enough doom and gloom. There is good in the has led me to learn or adapt to new behaviors. This post is about celebrating what paranoia wrought in my life.
I used to draw the line at bodily fluids on the cloth towels, but cloth diapering my youngest has taught me that with enough wash cycles, everything is fine. And cloth diapers (and/or inserts) have future use as rags in the future. Bonus!
Cloth menstrual pads - Why wear a disposable pad covered in chemicals up against sensitive skin several days a month? A couple of cloth pads came with a cloth diaper order several years ago. I loved them so much I sewed some more myself. I used old baby blankets and cloth diapers to make them. They are super easy to make. Again, toss them into the wash and you are good to go. I have a lined cloth bag (that I made) in my purse to hold dirties if I am out and about. Considering the average woman uses 4-5 pads a day, 5 days a month, I am NOT throwing away at least 20-25 pads each month. And saving money. Yay!
Homemade deodorant - Ok, this one is brand spanking new. I tried several natural deodorants but found them irritating. Friends pointed me in the direction of making my own deodorant. I do not see why this won't be successful. I am excited about doing this myself!
It was even more of a success than I imagined! I not only kept the plants alive, but harvested beans, squash, green onions, and potatoes throughout the summer. I didn't do too well at tomatoes (the squirrels made off with them) or strawberries (the squirrels made off with them), but looking back at this sentence, I realize it is more a matter of squirrel management than my gardening ability. The garden did go kaput during the blazing heat of August, but I can plan to be more diligent about watering next year.
Reusing and recycling - I have discovered thrift stores are the cheapest and best kept secret for cheap fabrics. What is more pioneer-y than taking something old and making it new again? I love refashioning clothes! I have made patchwork sweater coats for several friends (and am taking commissions!), have learned the joys of felting old wool sweaters to make things like hats and slippers, and think using sheets for dress muslins is the best kept secret ever. I am having so much fun playing with old clothes!
Thrift stores are fabulous anyway. I get about 75% of my boys and my own clothing from thrift stores. I especially love shopping there for kids clothes. I heartily believe kids are meant to get dirty and I find it is easier to let this ideal stand if my child is wearing an outfit that cost $3 rather than $30. Besides, kids grow out of clothing so fast they barely get a chance to wear the item. And I love going to a place and finding the one item in the store that is a perfect find. It is like a treasure hunt.
Anyway, this is a short list, but it shows the shift in my thinking. Not only have I enjoyed learning new skills, but I have saved money and created less ecological impact by doing these things. I know there is a lot more I can do... and I will get to it, eventually. Maybe. Many people are doing much, much more. But it is fun to do just these few small things and feel like you are making a difference.