It’s not that I am a hoarder, but I just don’t like throwing anything away that has some secondary useful value. I’m not nuts about filling up landfills either, however, I do recycle stuff through my home city program. Still, if it is something I can use, I recycle it to my prepping program. Inherent chemical compositions aside, I reuse all kinds of food containers, product packaging, and other storage boxes for a wide variety of prepper projects. The containers that have snap on or somehow fixed tops are of particular interest for keeping prep gear and stuff organized, dust free, and clean.
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author
Plastic Is Fantastic
Frozen food trays, saucers, and plates can be reused for microwaving if the power is still on or for serving food like paper plates. Using a permanent ink marker, I just jot down on the end of the stack-able types so I can quickly know what is inside. The use of other containers is obvious, but they are practical none-the-less. So far, this is the list of various types of containers I have found useful:
- Milk cartons – for water storage or to fill immediately for a pending SHTF.
- Wet wipe boxes– these have flip top snap closures for various stuff.
- Bouillon cube jars – spices, seasonings, powder meds, pills, etc.
- Plastic juice bottles – frozen for cooler ice packs or to thaw for water.
- Medicine bottles – meds, Q-tips, small parts, sewing kit, drink mix, etc.
- Onion ring containers – snap box for anything including hiding ammo.
- Metamucil containers – solid plastic for multiple uses with screw on top.
- Velveeta cheese boxes – good shelf organizers sans tops.
- Snack cracker boxes – same as cheese boxes.
- Meat trays – save parts when disassembling things, organizers.
- Rubbermaid totes – all sizes with secure lids for packing, carrying.
- Zip lock bags – all sizes, but gallon best for multiple storage options.
- Bread bags – anything longer or round to keep dry and clean.
- Ice cream tubs – snap on seal lids with carry/grab handle.
- Tin cans – stand up tools, pencils, pens, nails, files, and like stuff.
- MTM Case-Guard ® lock top boxes for ammo, magazines, and gear.
This is just a starting place list of everyday containers you use at the house or office and more than likely just toss most of them in the trash can when you are done with them. Use a little creativity to cycle them back into your prepping storage and packing schemes.
Little Packs & Totes
Just how do you plan right now for getting all your gear from home to a potential Bug Out location? I know Samsonite luggage is nice, but really? Whatever you use from traditional backpacks, Maxpedition bags, Army duffle bags, or other soft sided carry totes to hard plastic storage boxes, you had better get an idea of what to use, what all it will hold, and how much of it you can get into your prime escape vehicle.
I know, too, one of the many options is a secondary gear storage site in between home and your Bug Out site. But you still got to get all that stuff to the final base camp. Unlike real estate’s motto about location in this case it is logistics, logistics, logistics. Pre-equipping the final base camp can be an option, too of course. Just be thinking these things through.
I use nearly all of the containers listed above to store all kinds of stuff I want to take along on a Bug Out or just to keep well organized at home in the garage, and multiple storage closets inside the house. I have one closet dedicated to clothing, boots, heavy coats, and photography equipment. Another closet is for protection equipment.
Some items may also go to the attic, but we have a heat destructive factor here in the south. I found that out the hard way by hanging a good set of rubber waders in the attic. In less than one summer, they turned to a hardened, cracked, ruined mess. So be mindful of where you store your gear inside or out no matter where you live in this country.
Anyway, I use all the smaller containers to store all kinds of stuff including gun cleaning supplies like patches, swabs, oil cloths, gun parts, small tools, small accessories like sling loops, sight parts, gun slips, optical cleaning solutions and lens cloths, fire starter kits, 2-3 compasses, wrapped parachute cords, heavy fishing twine, angling supplies, multiple med kits, tourniquets, Band-Aids, bandages, antiseptics and creams, burn and itch meds, elastic wraps, insect repellent, common medicines like aspirin, sinus pills, hand sanitizers, hard and liquid soaps, and such. Their uses are endless.
I mark each box whether I can see into it or not on the end or side whichever way it stores best on a shelf. Stored in a bigger box, I try to turn the smaller ones on end so I can easily read them. Use care in stocking in bigger boxes to watch the overall weight of each tote. In larger plastic boxes I store pre-loaded magazines, ammo pouches, holsters (one for each handgun), knives, flashlights, spare batteries, camping items, tarps, tape, wire, clothes line rope, ski rope and such. Each box is roughly organized and packed by similar gear categories.
I also pack shooting optics like a couple extra rifle scopes with rings and mounts already installed, electronic sights in quick-release mounts, 3-4 binoculars, a spotting scope, tripod, 2-3 extra slings with hook ups, neoprene scope covers, and gun cases that fold flat.
If you think I am container crazy with all this mentioned above, you should see my major gear storage boxes. Whenever a big box store like Home Depot, Lowe’s or like stores puts these big boxes on sale, I usually pick up another one or two. I love the snap lock top Rubbermaid® totes with lockable handles in all three sizes. There are other brands out there too including Plano® that make some really good molded utility boxes. Look for boxes used by construction crews, electrical workers, lawn care people and others.
Again, by like categories, I store similar gear in one box and label them. These I store in the garage if heat does not impact the stuff inside. Inside these bigger boxes, I put the smaller everyday use containers for longer term storage or rotation. I may have a hunting box, fishing box, camp gear, dry food box, canned goods box, or redundant supplies for example.
These boxes stack nicely in a corner or along the wall of a second garage that is rarely seen open from the street. You can padlock these boxes if you want to hassle with the locks and keys. I usually don’t but I do have several padlocks keyed the same just in case.
By now you are probably thinking, how in the world could I carry all this stuff in all these boxes to an external site during a SHTF showdown. I don’t, but I could. My No.1 plan is a Bug In and I just needed places and options to store all my accumulated gear where it is organized, easy to access, clean and dry. All kinds of plastic boxes are primo for these tasks. You could also do storage shelving units in the garage or in the house. A basement would be good, too.
In Case Of Emergency – Grab This
If I do Bug Out to my alternative base camp, I pull the boxes I need or want to slide them out the garage door into the back bed of my Chevy Silverado extended cab, close the tailgate, and lash down a tarp over it all. My family of three can comfortably ride in the cab with a couple backpacks of travel goods, and defensive tools at the ready. Do I have it all in order? You’re kidding right! That probably will never happen for me or you. We just keep working at it. When I read new articles at SHTFBlog.com, I am constantly learning new tips, tactics, tricks of the trade, and whole new perspectives on prepping prep. As I use and test new gear I may replace something I have or add it for redundancy. If I were to Bug Out I could have others in camp, too so there is more gear to share if I felt so inclined. I am a bit weak on supplying others that did nothing to prepare or brought nothing to the dance, but show up with a help-me-out or hand out attitude. That’s a story for another edition.
So, look around the kitchen, pantry, laundry room and other areas in the house for useful containers to reuse in your prepping strategies. In no time at all you too can go container crazy. We’ll probably all end up in a jar as mixed nuts anyway.
Dr. John J. Woods