by Todd Walker
Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series
A possum mentality will lead people to think you’re cheap. In our propped up economy, I call it industrious, resourceful, and plain smart. Why buy stuff with hard-earned cash when other people’s trash is everywhere?
Dumpster diving is certainly NOT above the members of our Doing the Stuff Network. These resourceful folks embody the Dumpster Diva mentality. In fact, repurposing or up-cycling everyday items is an integral part of homesteading, prepping, bushcrafting, back-to-basics living, and emergency first aid.
Once you catch the Dumpster Diva bug, you’ll view dumpsters as treasure chests! I’m sure our handlers have pesky prohibitions against this uncivilized pursuit – so dumpster dive at your own risk. Ask permission from business owners before taking what you think is trash. Especially when prowling for pallets. Most businesses recycle pallets and consider taking without permission theft.
But here’s the thing…
You don’t have to actually dig in dumpsters to repurpose stuff. Up-cycle, repurpose, and re-trash are trendy terms for what our grandparents did to get through hard times. Use it up, wear it out, and then find another use for the item other than its intended purpose.
Check out the projects below and get in touch with your trashy side.
Dumpster Diving for Self-reliance
1.) Cheap to Free Stuff
That metal DVD rack collecting dust could be repurposed to feed rabbits.
She could have dumped several dollars at the local feed and seed but went all Dumpster Diva and made an unconventional – yet functional – rabbit feeder.
2.) Landfill Love
Michael, my brother from another mother, found an 18 foot long tent and other items he repurposed from the local landfill.
I think his best up-cycling miracle performed was when his gas tank on his old Datsun pickup ruptured. He ran a gas line from a gallon gas can to his engine with the can sitting inside the hood of his truck. A fire hazard? Yes. But he had to drive to work and this was a short-term fix. Might come in handy in a bug out scenario. Redneck genius!
You didn’t hear me wrong. Large tarps are expensive but have endless uses around a homestead…
- Protect equipment from weather
- Wind block
- Shade animals
- Ground cloth
- Roofing, etc., etc.
I bought a 14′ by 40′ billboard for $14 a few months ago. A portion was used as a roof for my trapping shelter (personal space). A few of our readers have scored free tarps by just asking the work crew for old billboards!
With a little sweat equity, free wood for projects around your homestead, yard, handicrafts, or house can be found in wooden shipping pallets. No disassembling required for some projects. Here’s some DiY pallet projects from around the web to get your mind geared to repurpose…
- 6 Quick and Easy Pallet Projects for the Homestead
- Our Garden Pallet Fence – disassembly required
- A Goat Pallet Barn
I love it when people start trading theory for action! Resilient Man emailed the first steps of his journey to self-reliance and active resilience. He’s getting his hands dirty using pallets to build a chicken coop.
Without becoming an obsessive compulsive hoarder, you can turn waste into wealth. The key here is to organize waste to prevent your house from becoming a death trap of trash.
The plastic five gallon bucket may be the most under appreciated prep item ever… until you need one and none are to be found. Ever tried to create your own containers from raw materials? Not an easy task! That goes double for glass.
6.) Think Before You Toss Everyday Items
Here’s a round-up from a few of my Prepared Blogger friends who can help you take dumpster diving, repurposing, and up-cycling to new levels.
- 20 Things I never throw away
- Don’t Throw That Away!
- Ways to recycle canning lids
- Unlikely Storage Container
- Practically Free Egg Carton Dryer Lint Firestarters
- Metal Char Cloth Tins
- Build a #10 Can Rocket Stove
- Trayer Fire Tool
7.) First Aid/Medical
Lizzie over at Underground Medic put together Ten unconventional additions to your emergency medical kit worth checking out.
If you haven’t discovered the many survival uses for duct tape yet, The Survival Doctor (Dr. James Hubbard) wrote an entire book on how to use duct tape for medical emergencies - Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together.
The Dumpster Diva Award goes to…
One of our amazing members of the Doing the Stuff Network is now crowned Dumpster Diva! She and her husband are building a homestead house (Earthship) out of old tires!
I hope Part 2 in the Self-Reliant Summer Series encourages you to trade theory for ACTION! We’re planning an entire summer of self-reliance articles to keep us Doing the Stuff. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.
What’s your favorite repurposing hack for self-reliance and preparedness? Comments are always welcome…
Keep Doing the Stuff,
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