14 Items Preppers Shouldn’t Throw Away

14 Items Preppers Shouldn’t Throw Away

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Every time that we finish eating from a container or have put on a pair of blue jeans for the last time, we find ourselves throwing these things out like they’re trash. But this is something that we shouldn’t be doing, especially when you consider yourself a prepper. Even though an item may no longer serve its original purpose, it can still then be used for something else, a skill that Native Americans were particularly known for. These are 14 items preppers shouldn’t throw away. Those white lids above are BALL White Lids, I use them for regular and wide mouth mason jars.

Related Topic: 8 Must-Haves for Choosing the Perfect Bug Out Location

14 Items Preppers Shouldn’t Throw Away

14 Items Preppers Shouldn’t Throw Away

1. Worn Out Clothing

Your old worn-out t-shirts can be used in the place of paper towels and wash rags whether you’re working out in the garage under the hood of one of your vehicles, or when you’re doing dishes in the kitchen. If you have clothing that is simply too small for any of the members of your family, you could store them away so that you have something to trade in a doomsday scenario. In case you missed this post, Prepping Items You Can Find at Thrift Stores

2. Newspapers

Have you ever come across a person who had piles and piles of newspapers stacked to the ceiling in their home? Maybe they knew something that you and I didn’t know? Newspaper can be used as tinder to help start a fire, and as an insulator in the cracks of your doors and windows in the wintertime. Many gardeners use newspaper as a type of mulch/compost that helps to keep your plants and soil moist as well.   

3. Grocery Bags

Grocery bags are extremely useful in ways besides carrying things. They can be used to add protection around your shoes when it’s wet outside. If you have enough of them, they can be used to create a rope, or a small trash can liner that you can use in your bathroom. For more ideas, check out these 45 different ways that you can use your grocery bags. 

Read More of My Articles  Essential Items Every Household Needs

4. Coffee Cans

Just like grocery bags, coffee cans are also very versatile in the many ways that they can be used. You can place smaller plants in them and store just about anything in one including your water supply and keeping your toilet paper dry during emergencies. I’ve even heard of people who use them to bake bread.  These are 16 clever ways to use your old empty coffee cans. 

5. Glass Jars

Glass jars with lids are also great for storing liquids. A spaghetti jar makes for a great glass to drink out of as well. 

6. Baby Jars

Baby jars are ideal for storing your smaller nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and other miscellaneous small essential items. You can even use them as a holder for homemade candles when you’re dealing with a power outage. 

7. Old Tires

There are several options for use of your old tires. They can be used as a large garden container for flowers or your vegetables. Some people get creative and recreate them into lawn furniture, or chop them up into little bits like what you see on a children’s playground in order to block weeds in their garden. 

8. Plastic Bottles

The next time you have an empty 2-liter pop container or an empty milk gallon, don’t throw it out! These are useful for storing water, or as a method for watering your plants. You could also cut your milk container in half and use it as a scoop for your cat litter, or as a dustpan when you sweep. Please keep in mind water jugs are not a safe way to store water for more than say 2 weeks. They crack, leak, and a very hard to clean. They are only good for flushing toilets. A better option is the detergent thicker containers.

9. Cardboard Boxes

Whenever you order something from Amazon or purchase a new appliance from the local appliance store, don’t make the mistake of throwing the shipping/delivery box away. Cardboard boxes are great to have on hand when you’re moving, or simply keeping your stuff organized in your home.

When you’re not using them, they can be broken down and laid flat so that they don’t take up so much space.  If you’re ever put into a situation where you have to bug out and grab a few last-minute supplies, you’ll be glad you had those cardboard boxes stashed away.   

Read More of My Articles  50 Signs That You Might Be a Prepper

10. Dryer Lint

Did you know that over 2,900 house fires that happen each year are eventually narrowed down to the same culprit? Dryer lint. It’s extremely flammable and can be used as tinder for starting your outdoor fire for all of your heating and cooking needs. When you clean out your laundry lint trap, be sure to place it in a Ziploc baggie so that you can keep it dry for use later.  Please note, thanks to my friend Harry, be careful with polyester, nylon, orlon and many other synthetic materials that can give off noxious fumes when burned. 

11. Egg Cartons 

Plastic egg cartons aren’t exactly great for the environment in the first place, so instead of throwing them out, they can be used to start the seedlings for your garden a couple of weeks before spring arrives. After SHTF, you’ll need a good fire starter, and egg cartons along with dryer lint will be the perfect tinder.  The cardboard ones are better for the environment and for making fire starters with cotton balls dipped in Vaseline and dryer lint.

12. Wire Pieces

Small wire pieces are great for tying things together, including a temporary fix on your outdoor fence, or also for securing your plants to a stake so that they can grow properly.  

13. Pantyhose 

Just because you have a run in your pantyhose doesn’t mean that you have to throw them out. They’re still good for preventing blisters when you’re out hiking in the woods, or for when you are in need of a homemade water filter to cover your drinking sources. Pantyhose when tied extremely tight can also be used as a tourniquet to help stop excessive bleeding. 

14. Bacon Grease 

Bacon grease is another item that you should consider holding onto, though most people make the mistake of disposing of it. Stored bacon grease is an excellent way to add flavor to certain dishes and is also a great fire starter. To find out more, check out one of my previous posts on 13 Ways to Use Bacon Grease. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with it.  

14 Items Preppers Shouldn’t Throw Away 

Final Word

I’m guessing that a majority of these items you’ve been throwing out for years. Preppers should always take the time to stop and consider what other purposes a worn-out item or used container could be used for instead of kicking it out to the curb. What are some other items preppers shouldn’t throw away? May God Bless this world, Linda. 

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  1. wow ! doing something right ! i use my plastic jars for putting stuff in freezer & other than that ,you got it covered ! never throw out plastic jars ! they dont break ! i have water in plastic bleach jugs ,jus in case !

  2. I guess I am a preppier! I have all of those items saved, especially newspapers! There are fewer newspapers being printed, due to the internet. I also have a good collection of dark jars, like amber, green and cobalt blue, since I have become interested in herbology.

    1. Hi Debbie, I know newspapers are becoming extinct!! LOL! In Utah, they deliver once a week if they deliver at all. Everyone has gone to the internet for watching TV about what’s going on around the world. I love hearing you are learning about herbology! Stay safe, Linda

  3. I use old t-shirts for the ear loops on masks. I make masks for my family and I cut the t-shirts one inch wide and the length I need. Give it a tug on each end and you’ve got a nice soft loop to go around your ears. Old t-shirts can also be cut the same way as above and crocheted or woven into rugs that are very durable and are machine washable.

  4. Linda, love your article, but please tell your readers not to store water in milk jugs. You can never
    get all of the milk out of a plastic jug, and bacteria can grow, making the water undrinkable or usable.

    1. Hi Rose, I just changed that sentence. I always assume my readers know they are the worst containers for storing water, but newbies may think they are fine to use. Thanks for the heads up. Linda

  5. We never buy eggs in the styrofoam/plastic containers, cardboard only! The entire egg carton can be burned. We fill them with dryer lint, cotton balls dipped in vasoline, etc. This way we can cut out the portion we need to use as tinder.

  6. I use plastic mayo jars to freeze my pumpkin purée. Also old nylons are great for hanging onions. And, we save the plastic juice jars to freeze apple cider!!

  7. Linda,
    I would caution against using dryer lint for tinder inside if you dry any garments made with synthetic material. Polyester, nylon, orlon and many other synthetic materials can give off noxious fumes when burned. While the content may be small in a batch of dryer lint, it would still be best to use it only outside where there is significant ventilation. Just my two cents worth.

    1. Hi Harry, thanks for the heads up! I’m going to go add this to my post. I would only use them outside but some people may have a fireplace and use them inside. Great two cents!! I love it! Linda

    2. Hi Linda. I use plastic juice bottles to store sugar, salt and some dry goods. These types of bottles can also be used to hold cereals in them. They take up less space and they help in eliminating all of those cardboard boxes that accumulate and draw bugs in the pantry.

  8. Hi Linda! We save most of these. No newspapers though. We have a lot of cardboard boxes. Not planning on moving any time in the near future, but I do put the things I take to the thrift stores in them. I save most of my jars, glass and plastic. Don’t save milk jugs though.

    On thing that I do stock up is Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s good for a lot of things. I drink some apple cider vinegar and honey in water. It makes me feel good after drinking it.

    1. Hi Deborah, wow, I admire you for drinking apple cider in water. I hear it’s good for you, but I gag, yep, I gag. I don’t save milk jugs either. But for some people, that’s their only choice. The heavier bottles are a little better. Linda

      1. Yeah I save my dryer lint in empty toilet paper rolls.
        I save my used motor oil as well. Lots of uses for it.

  9. I make fire starters with egg cartons (paper board type), dryer lint and wax. I save candle stubbs and melt those down then drizzle a bit ove wax over the lint filled egg cartons. Once they are solid again, I can tear or cut one off to start a fire. I only use these outside.

    When I was a Girl Scout leader, I took my troop camping quite often. The girls were required to bring a bunch of newspapers to put between the ground and their sleeping set up – mat and bag. The purpose is to cut down on the cold and damp getting to the sleeping bag. You sleep warmer!

    Two other things I haven’t thrown away for years – plastic/vinyl shower curtains (I have 4 in my preps) and outdoor vinyl table covers. These make great ground covers when camping and can also be used as rain ponchos.

    The internet is full of ideas for repurposing just about anything! Pinterest is my go to for ideas.

    1. My grandfather would nap after spreading his newspaper over himself. As kids we just thought he was a crazy old man. But once when I lived at the tip of the mitt in MI, I got stuck in snow in my office attire. I didn’t have my winter box in my van yet but had a stack of newspapers i has picked up from a friend. I crumbled pages up, stuffed inside my dress slacks, wrapped my feet up in them and waited for my husband to come rescue me. Along with finally realizing the importance of newspaper, I learned to always have both winter/ summer boxes in my van all year. That was the beginning of my serious prepping learning!!!

      Love this page!!!

      1. Hi Lisa, thank you for your kind words. It’s funny how we learn as we go along. You are so lucky you thought to use those newspapers! It sounds like we all feed a winter and summer “box” in our cars! Great comment! Linda

        1. Linda,

          I was blessed to be raised by parents and grandparents who had been dirt poor. Growing up, we knew no lack of anything from food, clothing and love. We just didn’t have the brand new expensive things that didn’t really matter. I think I was 13 before I figured out just how poor we were.

          So I’ve always had a small stash of things for the what if times. That changed over the years and this past year while everyone was running around trying to get things, my grocery budget and TP lol budget never changed.

          Although after years of not gardening because it’s just me now, I’m going to start back with a small garden. It’s time. I can’t eat all my flowers lol.


          1. Hi Lisa, my husband and I both grew up poor, but we didn’t realize it at the time. Mark wanted button-down shirt collars so he sewed some buttons on them. He had a newspaper in his shoes to keep his feet dry. I grew up with a working single mom, and my sisters and I took the laundry to the laundromat when I was 8 years old. My older sister was 9. I can’t imagine sending kids that young to a laundromat, not today, anyway. We learned to do without and never wanted for anything. We learned to work. The flowers, I love flowers! Just plant some carrots around them! Life is so good! Linda P.S. be sure and plant tomatoes, nothing beats home grown ones!

  10. Linda, I agree that these things could be useful in an emergency. I just don’t want to end up on “Hoarders, buried alive”.

  11. Since most baby food no longer is in the old style glass jars, my hubs started using empty prescription pill bottles for the small washers, nuts and screw storage.

    1. Hi Beth, oh that’s a great idea! I get the baby glass jars from a neighbor when she has a 12 or so she that she doesn’t need. I think only. few companies have the baby food in jars now. Great reminder! Linda

  12. There are so many great comments here…and I was really pleased that we’ve been doing alot of them all along that I had forgotten about. We always keep egg cartons and use them (alone) to start the fire in our woodstove. We reuse canning jars for tons of stuff like airtight containers for Amish popcorn. We save all our toilet paper rolls for cordminders. Vinyl shower curtains are a must to keep for just about anything needed outdoors. When we had baby food jars, we used them for nuts, screws, extra paint, etc. One of my favorites is to save the Tropicana orange juice jugs for water. They’re super sturdy and thick and clean up really nicely. All of my husband’s old socks go into the rag pile for cleaning, polishing, etc., as do old kitchen towels. It’s amazing what’s out there for prepping/emergencies if one would only think outside the box. Great article, Linda…and everyone else for their awesome comments/suggestions!

  13. Here is where I hang my head in shame. I have failed Linda’s Prepper Class. I am a neatnik MARRIED to a neatnik. Everyone straightens drawers, closets and cupboards monthly right? And January is the annual file clean out and shred isn’t it? And it’s totally understandable to chase the garbage truck with one last piece, as if they won’t be back in 7 days…… Even when we have traveled by car, south for the winter, we pack a travel-and-trash wardrobe to cut down on laundry. Clutter makes me nervous. There’s no hope for us……

    1. Hi Chris, oh my gosh, this the best comment EVER! I got the giggles so bad. I wish my husband was a neatnik, he’s a hoarder, don’t tell anyone. LOL! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment, and you get an A+ for the class! You made my day!! I will treasure this comment forever! Linda

  14. A couple of things. In the PNW it doesn’t pay to use old tires in the garden for any reason. We have huge slugs that love to live in them and then come out at night and eat your produce. I know, because I tried this years ago. Another thing is using old pantyhose. I use knee-highs and when I get a run, etc. I cut them across the leg area and then again to make strips. I use these on my tomatoes, etc. because they are soft, yet strong. Saves me money, too.

    1. Hi Cheryl, great tip on the tires and the knee-highs, thank you! Those darn slugs show up in my garden every once in a while.Those would be perfect for tomato plants. I love it! Linda

  15. Linda great post, I also enjoyed reading everyone’s comments so much. I was so lucky and blessed to always be around those who grew up during te great depression, or was remembers the turn of the 20th century, or elderly folks who grew up in deep in Appalachia, or in the swamp. The common denominator with all of these great people I had been blessed to have in my life is that they had no choice but to make do with what they had to be able to save just a penny here and there because just a few pennies saved made such a big difference. I grew up always hearing them say “A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned”. Finding new uses for those items that most people would throw out is a form of self sufficiency in an of itself. Now here is just a few ways I get the most use out of thing as possible. I live in a townhome with 3 birch trees in my back yard so I use all the fallen limbs in a used charcoal barrel grill to burn while I cook breakfast it dinner in my cast iron skillet or cast iron dutch oven, I used the junk mail, or any papers that most people would shred as a firestarter (paper only no shinny slick paper), this saves me money on my power bill each month as well as cleanes up my yard, plus once I have enough cooled wood ash I save it to spread over my yard to deter certain pests and bugs as well as use it in the wintertime through the complex to keep the sidewalks and parking lot from icing over.

    1. Hi Dee, we were really blessed to have learned so much from our grandparents, and great grandparents. I’m always amazed when people ask how to make biscuits or bread. Growing up we all know how to make them, it was second nature. I remember the penny saved is a penny earned. I went walking this morning and I saw a “lucky” penny on the ground. Yes, I put it in my pocket!! You know my uncle used to have a barrel grill, they are the best because they are so deep!! They were large and cut in half lengthwise and he had two lined up end to end. Then he made or welded grills for them. We use those to stay warm in the winter outside with marshmallows on a stick grilling hamburgers in the summer! Great memories. Your birch trees are free fuel, I love it! Linda

  16. Thank you Linda, I also have reused 2 Liter Soda bottles given to me by my soda drinkin’ friends and family (50 total) that I use to go 20 miles away to fill up will 3 weeks worth of free spring water for drinking, cooking, and canning. Save the shaker caps from parmesan jars bc they can fit on regular mouth glass jars as well as the plastic mayo lids. (Tip: soak beans in a glass or with one of the parn shaker lids on so that you can use the jar as its own colander, quick and easy). Reuse tuna or chicken size cans (only if you used a safety can opener on them) and cut cardboard to the highth of the lid and coil the cardboard inside it until filled, then pour extra bacon grease, or saved candle stubs in to fill up, and you have an emergency heat and cooking source. Great to bring along for restricted camping trips. Save used dryer sheets to put on the bottom of the swiffer to use instead of the swiffer refills and works ever better. Just a small bit of the ways I reuse as well as save money. Hope it is helpful to someone.

    1. Hi Dee, oh, I love spring water, what a blessing you have access to that! I can almost visualize all 50 bottles in your car! Thank you for sharing all the awesome tips on how to reuse cans and lids. Life is so good with reusable items. Thank you!! Linda

      1. Thanks Linda, I feel very blessed to have access to all the resources, which I probably would not have if I were raise any differently. I also learned from a very early age how to sew, crochet, use power tools to build things, learned to work on cars some as well as machines (I started learning to work on lawn mowers at 8 yrs old) garden, forage , transplant wild native plants (i.e. dogwood trees, ferns, wisteria, muskendine, and honey suckle vines) as a kid. I truly believe that if you learn any self sufficiency skills at a young age it helps to round you out as a teenager and adult. By the time I was 15 I could fix my dad hydrolic lift and use the neighbors welder to fix brackets. Although I am a girl I was encouraged to lead any skill I wanted for my parents and grandparent knew the true value in skills. For these skills is often something we tend to not think about as something that can be be reused over and over again like the items you wrote about. Yeah, I was a weird kid, and not a typical gen x’er.

  17. Oh wow–now I have a sore shoulder from patting myself on the back… LOL! ( was raised right, by two Depression survivors. Actually, most Yankee farmers save all sorts of stuff that might be needed for mending something, sometime…)

    Those 2-liter soda bottles make great trees for tall boots. And those gallon jugs–cut the bottom off, turn over, and you have a mini-greenhouse (cap can be taken off for venting as needed).

    All of the mentioned items get saved and used around here. Other items:
    –Baling twine. I know, not something the average urban/suburban family will have, but still… Mends anything…
    –Toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut up and use for seedling collars against cutworms. Also fill with lint, etc., as fire starters.
    –Sacks from feed, shavings. Best trash bags! Also used to store dry leaves and pine cones. Woven feed sacks also make earth bags or sand bags.
    –Cotton from pill bottles. Not sterile, but still good for quite a bit of cleaning (haven’t bought cotton balls in decades) as well as for fire starters.

    1. Hi Rhonda, you should be patting yourself on the bad!! I love it! I never thought to use a toilet or paper towel tubes for seedlings! Why didn’t I think of that??? Great comment! Wow! We always learn something from each other! Linda

  18. LOVE reading all the comments & learning new things !
    a day is not wasted if you learn something new OR reminded
    of something old !

  19. I hate to see things thrown away when they can be reused. So I keep what I can use now and try to keep some raw materials to make things as needed. And any money we save means more funds for things we can use and must stock up on.

    I recently began to go through the closets looking for old clothing and washing everything. Then I decide what fits and what to keep or give away. The winter and cold or cool weather doesn’t last long here in Florida so It’s easy to rationalize we only need just a few cool weather items, but if things get bad, we would need and want more.

    I have survival gear like many people. It’s the other stuff we need to make sure we are supplied with.

    Just by going through what is here I am finding we have a lot more useful stuff than I realized.

    1. Hi Frank, you are so right. I have finally convinced Mark, my husband to donate some old shirts that he hasn’t worn in 10-15 years. Of course, they are a bit out of style but someone could use them at the thrift store. We have a lot of people out of work so they are being put to good use. I’m an organize freak, I own it. Here’s the deal if we need some items we have them. But we moved from a bigger house 15 years ago to a smaller home. If we haven’t used some items for 15 years and will probably never use them we are going to clear out stuff every week. We are getting older and I do not want my kids to have to back up a dumpster in our driveway (LOL) to get rid of our 51 years of stuff we have accumulated. But my preps stay, of course. Stay safe, Linda

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