In part 1, I stated the I believed prepping and practical minimalism can coexist. It seems a bit of an oxymoron to have both the words “prepping” and “minimalism” in the same phrase, but I believe it makes sense.
We are renters, and recently I stepped back for a moment to take a good look at our way of living and our stuff. We had too much of it. Facing another cross-country move, I started taking inventory of everything we own and made some tough decisions about what to do away with. I’ve developed a new attitude of what I call “practical minimalism”.
Many preppers I know question why I would even consider downsizing my preps or my personal items to just the essentials. For me, there are two main reasons: 1) ease of portability and 2) the peace I feel in a well-organized and clutter-free home.
In part 1, I went over how I pared down my preps, including food and water and survival gear. I also provided the questions that I asked myself to help me evaluate what to keep and what to get rid of. Yet, what I decided to keep, I had to store.
Storage and the “Power of Three”
Minimalists pride themselves on how little they own. Preppers store supplies in stockpiles. How can these two ideals coexist? They can exist by merging the two lifestyles, finding a happy middle, and by having smart storage. After downsizing to the minimum number of items for your prepping needs, go through all your personal items in the same way. It will open a lot more room and options for storing the items you do keep.
There is one area of special importance: sentimental items. This area of downsizing will vary from person to person. Some people do not have emotional bonds to items; others can tell a story about every item in their home. It may be too difficult to choose a few sentimental items to keep. For these folks, starting somewhere is key. Get rid of a few items that don’t hold too much importance any more. For example, if you must choose between keeping a poster from Spring Break 1992 that has been rolled up in your closet for more than 20 years or a framed painting your great-grandmother painted that you love, keep the painting; donate the poster. Doing this will get the ball rolling. Future decisions become easier as you go through your belongings.
The Power of Three
Something I put into practice is what I call the “power of three”. I looked at items that I had a lot of and that occupied a lot of space in my storage areas. I call them the storage hogs. These storage hogs include kitchen supplies and appliances, kid’s toys, books, and textiles, all that were hogging space for me. I chose three of each to keep. Books were an exception: I kept five children’s books and five most useful books from my survival library.
In the kitchen I had duplicates of utensils, like spatulas and wooden spoons, so I took the best of each to make one complete set. I set aside four place settings of dishes and silverware, and then I donated the others. I did the same for cups and mugs. All storage bowls without lids were donated, and only the important cookware and bakeware were kept. Items like a garlic press and potato ricer, which I used once or twice each year, were set aside for a yard sale. The same went for electric appliances. My juicer went to the “sell” pile, but multi-purpose items were kept. One example of an appliance kept is my electric pressure cooker. It is used often and has many different cooking functions.
I have a toddler who is only attached to one or two toys, so getting rid of the extras was easy. Using the “power of three”, I kept three items from each toy category. We kept three stuffed animals, three puzzles, three plastic dinosaurs, three toy cars, and three electronic toys. I discarded all the cheaply made items and kept the highest quality items from each category. Again, books were an exception; I kept five books that will last throughout childhood. Two large exceptions were a wooden train set and a small wooden kitchen set that take up minimal space. It may sound like we still own many toys, but believe me, it is a drastic change from what we had.
Critical Survival Gear
Once the major “storage hogs” were downsized, it allowed me to look at our living space in a new way. Critical survival gear, which had previously been stored in the garage and was visible when the garage door was open, was moved into the empty kitchen cabinets. Now, it is hidden from plain sight. Our child’s toys used to occupy an entire room, and now they are tucked neatly into a three-drawer chest.
Items Out of Sight and Organized in Logical Way
Minimalism is not just about having fewer items than the average person; it is also about having those items out of sight and organized in a logical way. We keep our kitchen items in the main cabinets within reach of the stove, sink, and oven. Our survival gear is tucked into the less used cabinetry.
An Urge To Fill Empty Spaces
Once the non-essential items were gone and more space opened, there was an urge to fill the empty spaces. I’d gotten used to filling up every nook and cranny with something “I might need in a disaster”. That has been the toughest part for me. I remind myself daily that I have kept the survival gear best suited for our needs and the items necessary for everyday living.
As renters, we own furniture that can serve more than one purpose. Storage comes at a premium when renting, so we utilize things like ***two-drawer file cabinets***amazon.com/Z-Line-Designs-2-Drawer-Vertical-Cabinet/dp/B009D10R6E for end tables, a ***storage trunk***amazon.com/SONGMICS-Leather-Folding-Footrest-ULSF703/dp/B00PC74FQG as a coffee table. We utilize the space under the bed for extra stowing, and we opted to buy a ***kitchenette set with bench seats***amazon.com/Essential-Home-Breakfast-Kitchen-Corner/dp/B00IHFGXFQ that open for more storage. Many of our preps have been relocated to these areas now that the everyday clutter has been cleared.
Think Before Buying
Once the clutter is gone and your gear and everyday items are stored neatly in the home, it becomes essential to reframe your thinking when out shopping. My family is not a fan of big box stores, for many reasons. However, where we live, there is only one store that serves the area, unless we choose to drive many miles into town. When analyzing our budget, I discovered we were making poor decisions at the big box store. We would go in for groceries and come home with toys, DVDs, socks, a new t-shirt, or that “one thing” we’ve been wanting for a while, in addition to our groceries. To remedy this, we now go in on the grocery side of the store only. If we need an item other than groceries, we fetch it after getting our food and immediately head to the check-out.
Questions to Ask Before Buying New Stuff
We also ask a series of questions before buying new stuff:
- Do I already have one? Do I have something at home that can do the same job as this item?
- Do I have a place for this item? Am I willing to get rid of something at home to have it?
- In terms of my job, how many hours would I have to work to pay for this item?
- Can I find it less expensive at a thrift store or online?
- If I buy it, am I willing to keep it until it is rendered useless?
- Is it a quality-made product that will last, or will I have to replace it soon?
Asking the above questions has greatly improved our budget and has kept our practical minimalism in line.
Reassess Once Per Year
Reassess once per year, or during major changes. Once a year, perhaps during spring cleaning, reassess your minimalist prepper lifestyle. Is it still working? Have your prepping needs changed somehow? Has clutter crept back into your living room?
Another great time to do this is during any major change. Changes that might drive reassessment include a birth, death, marriage, divorce, relocation, new job, et cetera.
In conclusion, using the above steps can help a person achieve a less cluttered living environment without totally sacrificing one’s survival supplies. Prepping and practical minimalism can coexist by keeping only the most necessary supplies, analyzing what comes into the home, and implementing smart storage.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.