Preparing Shouldn't Hurt

  • Posted on: 10 November 2021
  • By: David Trammel

This past week, I ran across a post on a popular preparedness FB group I'm on a lot. The question asked got me thinking about some of the preconceptions Society and the general public has about "prepping". Not just society really, but also those of us in the Community as well.

We have a lot of "myths", don't we?

To paraphrase the post, the author was complaining that she just couldn't get warm at home now. They were cold and shivering all the time. They admitted that, like any "good" prepper, they kept their furnace setting low to save energy, but they were miserable. The comments were filled with the expected suggestions, "bundle up", "insulate gaps", "cover windows" to "brew a hot cup of tea and you'll be fine". All typical solutions that get talked about in forums and on social media.

Know what I suggested?

"Turn your heat up..."

(copyright Jerzy Gorecki, Wiki Commons)

Well I actually said a bit more than that:

"You know, we parrot the idea that we should be living with little or no heat as a way of addressing climate and economic conditions of the World, and in my case of a coming collapse and long descent back to a world of less tech BUT your home's heating (or cooling) is entirely a function of budgeting your energy use. Its no different than your electricity consumption. Yes, live with lower consumption. Budget the cost and total usage so that you live within your means and conserve as much as you can. You don't though get a gold star for being a hermit and stoic by going thru torturous self abuse. If you physically suffer from a house that is too cold, then turn the thermostat up a little. After you put on a sweater and some toasty socks though. If you need to turn it up, then see where you can conserve in other ways. While I agree that cars and their use is a problem that we all would be better off without, I'm realistic enough to know that not everyone can. The buses here in St Louis suck, roads are unsafe for bicycles, and the city placement of needed stores isn't conductive for walking. So I have to have a car to live. That doesn't stop me from using it as little as I can.

I think its important to remember, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle isn't something you should by focusing on the parts of your Life separately, you have to do it in a whole systems approach. You need to consider how each of your actions and choices helps or hurts that adoption taken together. Simply looking at the energy your home heating uses, and deciding that you will cut that down, without taking into account WHY you are using that much energy, is going to lead to unintended consequences.

In this case, upon further discussion the original poster was older and had some health issues which made living in a much cooler home difficult for them. Weighed in isolation, cutting energy by turning down the thermostat makes sense. Taken as a component of your overall carbon footprint in relation to your quality of life, it didn't.

I'm not sure when it became a rule that to prepare for disaster, or in our case, a significant downturn in the carry capacity of civilization, you needed to learn to live like a monk. I suspect that the 60s and the Counter Culture revolution of the Hippies had a lot to do with it. Unwashed long haired college kids moving to the country to open communal living didn't paint a pretty picture, especially to their parents who either lived through the Depression or had grown up hearing tales from their own parents of the hardship of living on very little.

The Survivalist movement of the 80s, with its own move to the country and set up your doomstead bunker off the grid, and the movies that portrayed those same people as one step from ignorant hillbillies, no doubt added their own gloss of disdain for doing with less. We had a chance when the Oil Crisis of 1979 happened to turn that impression around but didn't. The ex-Hippies embraced Reagan and consumerism with a passion and the first chance to avert the terrible future we're going to live in soon disappeared.

But we've gotten a second chance now...

The recent pandemic and the pressures it put on the poor and working class, the so called "essential workers" (when they were needed), but now that they won't go back to their minimum wage jobs and take the abuse of their economic betters, those workers are finally waking up. They have seen their future and its bleak and dismal, no matter what the Media tells them.

We in the prepper community in general, and here at Green Wizards in particular need to let those newly awoken workers and their families know that the skills and techniques we have been practicing for decades, can help them free themselves from the trap that predator capitalism had them in.

Think about it for a moment, if you could stretch your food budget by just 10%, how would that make your lifestyle better? Now add to that, cutting down on 10% of your food waste? Just in this area YOU can increase the enjoyment and make your life better with just a little effort. A small garden, even if its just a few containers to start, makes a contribution. Planning your meals, even if its just 2-3 meals a week to start makes a contribution.

Not just economically either but these first steps cuts the stress in your life too. And who isn't stressed out now? Seems like every other day, we are hearing more doom and gloom. I read recently that the new Four Horsemen of the Apocalypses are now Energy, Economy, Environment and Elections. Each one of those, piles high the stress and the worry. You can let them lead, or you can try and take back some control.

I'm well read enough on how carbon emissions shake out by class and economic power to know that no matter how many of the 90% I can get to change a few of their choices, isn't going to change the coming future we will face, of society's collapse back to a lower level of life style, of disruptions by worsening climate, of shrinking opportunities from income inequality UNTIL we address the disproportional impact the very Rich have on the environment, nor the impact megs corporations have either.

What I am saying is, if you adopt a more resilient lifestyle YOU will have a better life.

The type of lifestyle we here at Green Wizards doesn't mean you have to suffer. Doesn't mean you have to go without enjoyment. On the contrary, if you ask any but the most hard core doom and gloom prepper, "Do you enjoy your life?", I would bet the answer would be a resounding "YES!"

Prepping still means you can have a pizza on a Friday. Prepping still means you sometimes see a blockbuster movie with friends at the Megaplex.

Prepping just means you enjoy other things as well. The joy of that first seed sprouting from a pot of soil. The joy of that first look at a lower energy bill. The joy of skipping over that Facebook post that tells you once again of some worrisome development in a country half a world away and how YOU SHOULD BE SCARED!!!

Yes, prepping expects more from you than casual participation. It means you put in some time, some effort and some discipline. It does not mean, it should hurt.

Break free of what is expected of you.

And for those who have been in this life for a while, get back to the joy you had when you first got into prepping. Share the joy more, and the fright less.

(copyright Cathy McGuire, Green Wizards)


This is all so true. Sadly, nuance gets lost right away.
It's not difficult to cut back ten percent in energy usage, money spent, miles driven, etc. etc.
You merely have to pay attention.
I'm constantly amazed by people who purchase a buy one, get one free item and then *DON'T PICK UP THE SECOND ITEM*! Cashiers tell me this story all. The. Time.

That's paying attention, similarly to turning off lights in unused rooms.
Cut back ten percent and you can hike the thermostat up a degree.
Close the windows properly (a problem I routinely see whenever and wherever I walk my dog) and you'll stop getting drafts making your rooms suddenly toastier.

You have to pay attention.

I don't believe the powers that be WANT us to pay attention because then we stop being mindless consumers and become conservers.

David Trammel's picture

Teresa I think you've hit the nail on the head, so to speak. So much of getting and being prepared, from the mundane of a flat tire to the complicated of the Collapse of our Entire Global Civilization is just the simple act of paying attention.

I wrote this recently on a FB group for prepping beginners:

"Too many people sleep walk through their lives. If I had to list a survival skill that was in the top 5 for preppers (and for everyone else really), one of them would be the skill/mind set that many call "situational awareness". That habit of actually looking at your surroundings, instead of allowing distractions to control your attention. You can be the most skilled person in the world, have the biggest baddest collection of prep, and yet if you don't notice that toy your toddler left at the top of the stairs you are about to trip on, well..."

The soft skills like situational awareness, critical thinking, understanding logic and other's intent and above most how to analysis the information out there are important. They form the foundation of your skill sets to live by. They are doubly important for someone who prepares like Green Wizards.

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Systems thinking is of course another soft skill that can be of great use in a matter like this. It relates to the situational awareness too. When thinking in systems we can keep the thermostat a little higher for an evening if we know, as Teresa pointed out, that we've done a good job sealing up drafty windows. We can lounge in a hot bath knowing we've insulated the water pipes and water heater. We can get the carryout food knowing we'll reuse the plastic container and that we'll get two meals out of the order.

Sometimes the little things make life sweeter, and if we have some cushion in the form of preps, we can also do some things to give us pleasure as well.