How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage

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It’s all about how to prepare for the threat of garbage today. When the SHTF, the preppers have their food, water, and a game plan of what to do.

However, one thing we all tend to not think about is what we will do with the garbage. Globally, we produce 2.12 billion tons of waste every year.

If that garbage was put into trucks, it would circle the globe 24 times! That’s a lot of garbage. Of course, as food and supplies start to dwindle, the amount of garbage will diminish, but we should still know how to prepare for the threat of garbage. 

What is The Threat of Garbage?

Garbage is probably one of the biggest threats you will face during a long-term disaster or collapse. This is especially true in areas around the world that do not have regular trash collection. This can happen here as well.

So, what kind of threats can you expect during a disaster or collapse? Read below to find out. 

The Threat of Illness

As waste stops being collected the threat of illness increases. The frequency of illnesses such as diarrhea and respiratory infections will skyrocket.

Think about the areas where waste management is non-existent. In many parts of Africa, there are devastating epidemics of mosquito-borne malaria, Lassa Fever, Yellow Fever, and other grave diseases. 

Bugs and Rodents will Come in

First, you will see fleas, flies, and gnats moving in. Next, you will begin seeing more ants, cockroaches, and then rats and other rodents moving in. Not only do these bugs and rodents become a huge problem, but they carry disease. 

The Stench will Be Unbearable

As you can already imagine, the stench will become unbearable. Even if you are taking care of your own garbage, you have to think of all the other garbage that is just getting tossed out by other people. The stench will be enough to keep you from wanting to walk outside. 

Toxic Chemicals

When SHTF, the garbage disposal is not going to be happening. This means toxic materials that were once getting buried at the landfill or disposed of properly will not be taken care of.

One toxic chemical produced by garbage is methane emissions. Methane is a gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

Water Contamination

Even landfills have been known to contaminate our water today in some places. Garbage leaks into the ground and into our water supply. The toxins and bacteria contaminate the water making our already small amount of water undrinkable. 

Read More of My Articles  What You Need In A Community To Survive

Related: How to Store Water for Drinking and Cooking

Land Contamination

Additionally, garbage contaminates our land. This means that the soil will not have the proper nutrients that it needs to properly grow food. It also means that food that is grown in the soil could be contaminated with toxins harmful to your body, such as carcinogens. 

How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage

From pollution issues and dirty waterways to the toxic discharge and disease, the issue of garbage is very real and will hit Americans very hard during a long-term disaster. Here are some ways you can prepare for it! 

Related: 37 Vintage Homestead Skills You Need to Know

Burn Your Garbage

Burning your garbage isn’t the healthiest solution in the world, but it has been done for thousands of years. If you want to begin preparing for the threat of garbage, it is a good idea to start the habit of burning the garbage that you can if it is allowed in your area. Most urban areas won’t allow it.

To this day, many people in rural areas of the U.S. still use this as a primary source of waste removal. 

When SHTF, you will want to burn your trash late at night. This way you do not draw attention to your bug out location. When you burn at night it makes it harder for people to see the smoke so it’s harder for them to find your location. 

Bury Your Trash

If you have a long-term disaster, it is in your best interest to bury the trash you can’t burn. If you live in the city, you will want to bury trash that is around your location as well.

To prepare for this, search out a location on your property or near your property that would be a good place to bury garbage. 

You’ll need to determine if that location is a temporary one that will allow you to at some point return and dig up to remove the materials, or if it will be more permanent.

Local laws and regulations should also be part of your decision making.

Burying your garbage helps prevent the spread of disease and keep rodents and predatory animals at bay. However, NEVER bury trash next to a water source and never dig a pit below the water table level. You can find the depth of the water table level in a certain location, here

Get Creative

Start getting creative with your garbage, now. Stuff that you would normally throw away during the good times, you may want to hang on to when SHTF.

A good way to prepare for the threat of garbage is to start brainstorming ideas of what you could do with the things you throw away.

There will be no recycling bin when SHTF, so you will have to find creative uses for things that can’t be burned or buried. 

Read More of My Articles  What Happens When Your Prepping Supplies are Gone?

Feed Your Animals Scraps

Most of the things that you don’t normally eat now, such as certain scraps, vegetable peels, and damaged fruit can be used as animal feed. This will help to minimize your waste, as well as offer you an alternative feed for your animals.

Scraps are great for animals like chickens, goats, and rabbits, and may even be ok for dogs and cats. 

Make a Compost

You can easily start a compost pile now. You don’t have to wait until SHTF. Even if you live in the city, composting is an easy way to turn your organic waste into a valuable resource.

Composting produces a nutrient-rich material that can be used to make your gardens thrive without having to purchase fertilizer from the store. If you want to be prepared for the threat of garbage, start a compost pile, today. 

How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage in the City

Although many of these things can be done in rural areas, it is a little more difficult if you live in the city. In fact, even during the short-term disaster of Hurricane Katrina, garbage became a huge issue for those living in the city of New Orleans. However, you can do a few things to help you prepare for the threat of garbage even if you live in the city. 

Talk to Your Neighbors: Yes, I get that most people do not want to listen to preppers and our craziness. However, you can talk to them about starting a compost, recycling, and limiting the amount of trash that they generate, and thus help the environment.

The less trash you have around you when SHTF, the better it will be. 

Start a Compost Now: You can always start a compost no matter where you are, unless in a highrise apartment. So, start doing that before things get bad. 

Create a Plan: Look into places where you can bury garbage. Have a plan to get rid of as much garbage around your location as you can. Keep in mind, you will be dealing with thousands of other people’s garbage pollution as well, not just your own. 

Have a Bug Out Location: If you live in a place where garbage could literally bury much of the city, consider having a bug out location out of the city. Talk to friends, family, or find a cheap place to buy where you can go. 

Final Word

Although garbage may be the last thing on your mind, it is still a big threat to our survival when SHTF. Many people can die from the disease and toxicity of garbage that we can’t get rid of.

You need to have garbage disposal built into your plan, especially if you live in the city. 

What is your plan? Share it in the comments below! Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda

Garbage Bags

This is on my wish list: Galvanized Metal Garden Incinerator Can

16 thoughts on “How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage

  • November 3, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Once SHTF the definition of garbage will change greatly. My neck is red so I’m already ahead of the power curve lol

    • November 3, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Matt, it will change for sure. Let’s hope we all have plans to live through it. Linda

  • November 3, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Burning at night is not a good idea either as the fire glow is easily seen for a long ways off. Plus if you do this during low cloud cover or fog it increases the glow of the fire. It would be better to be burned in a wood heating or wood cookstove but not all people have this. Practice now to find a way to burn it that produces less smoke or seems as if it is a normal part of your home place.
    Also learning to reuse more of the items that would have otherwise been burned would save a lot on trash accumulation. Never burn newspapers, they have so many other uses just google this for lots of ideas. Re-use, Reduce and Recycle is not just a green movement idea. It’s the way to have less trash and even not have to buy some things as you learn to re-purpose what used to be thrown away. It’s the way most people used to live and we all need to re-visit the idea of one time use items and how they can become multiple use items instead.

    • November 3, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Ma Kettle, great comment! We all need to revisit the idea to reuse and recycle items. Thanks for the tip on the low cloud covers. I love getting tips from others. Thank you so much, Linda

  • November 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    If all else fails just dig a large hole in the backyard or into a hill, away from the house.
    Keep away from your water supply so there isn’t contamination.
    A 55 gallon metal drum is good too. Air holes in the bottom sides. Lasts a long time. Screen the top so stuff doesn’t fly around and burn your house. A bucket of water nearby would be prudent.
    Never leave a fire unattended. Think california.
    Or just bury it if you have the space.

    • November 3, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Mary, thanks for the tips on the barrels. I’ve been thinking a lot lately where will all this garbage go when a huge disaster hits. Yes, indeed we need to think about the California fires. I don’t ever remember seeing so many fires in such a short time. We really do need to be able to control our garbage burn. Great comment, Linda

  • November 4, 2019 at 6:27 am

    It’s not the same “threat” as your list – but randomly garbaging your food packaging and scraps during a food shortage is definitely a security threat >>> and ultimately a danger to life & limb if your prepping OPSEC is broken by garbage scroungers ….

    • November 4, 2019 at 6:34 am

      Hi Illini, this is actually something we really do need to think about. Thank you so much, Linda

  • November 4, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Seems like a prolonged SHTF scenario would, itself, limit the garbage problem. After an initial surge of garbage, the supply would dwindle for a variety of reasons.
    1. People won’t be going to the store to buy goods in multiple layers of packaging.
    2. People running out of food and hungry won’t be throwing out half-eaten meals. They’ll eat every morsel.
    3. The post office will stop delivering all that junk mail.
    4. Things once seen as trash (empty soda bottles, empty tin cans, etc.) will be seen as resources.

    People deprived of the market’s largesse will run out of things to throw away.

    Just my two cents.

    • November 4, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      Hi Mic Roland, I think you are right. I was just thinking about all the trash that’s picked up on my street every week. In the beginning, we will have a lot of trash. Each week it will dwindle, as you mentioned. But there will still be a lot of trash. More than any of us are used to disposing of on our own. We will for sure be careful about items we use and need to reuse. Great comment, Linda

  • November 10, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Garbage has always been a problem. The majority of the Jamestown colonist from 1607 died from diseases caused by garbage and human waste than anything else. They didn’t know that if you dumped trash and waste in wells that it poisoned the water. Add in that the river water was brackish part of the day and the colonist were is serious trouble. Today the knowledge level of the danger of trash is not much higher than the 1607 Jamestown colonists. After all, all we have to do is to carry it to the curb and it magically disappears.

    Years ago I was teaching an Environmental Science class and had a speaker from the local waste management company who said that one day we would mine our landfills for the materials we toss in them. Think of all the steel and aluminum cans that are sitting there doing nothing, one day we will need them. Dr. William Rathje has done archaeological and anthropological studies of landfills and found all sorts of interesting and useful things. It’s amazing what we throw away.

    If SHTF I think that it is going to take a while for suburban and urban areas to adapt to new methods of waste management.

    • November 11, 2019 at 7:20 am

      Hi Angela, great comment, thank you. This is one of my biggest concerns that people realize they need to plan ahead for discarding human waste (safely) and trash. Linda

  • December 12, 2022 at 10:08 am

    (I hate to begin every post with “back when I was in the Park Service,” but back when I was in the Park Service…)

    Cooking and meal planning are definitely different when you don’t have refrigeration or garbage disposal. We didn’t want to carry a bunch of smelly, rotting food back down the trail with us when our ten-day “hitch” (time spent camped at a work site) was done. Burying food garbage in the woods could have attracted bears. So we had to be careful to cook enough for everybody, but not too much. We could put some leftovers in Tupperwares for lunch the next day, but couldn’t keep them any longer than that.

    So, if everyone had eaten their fill and made a Tupperware for tomorrow, and there was still food in the pot, we would resort to a ritual called the Yum Yum. As we sat in a circle around the stove or fire, the pot would be passed around, and each person would eat a spoonful every time it passed them, until the pot was empty.

    There was one girl who had gotten the job right out of high school and didn’t know much about cooking. She made rice and beans without knowing that rice and beans expand when you cook them! The Yum Yum that night was long and painful, and the new girl was not a popular person for a while after.

    • December 12, 2022 at 10:58 am

      Hi Sarah, what a great story about packing in and packing out food! I love hearing stuff like this. Linda

  • February 16, 2023 at 2:28 am

    An excellent article about the threat of garbage and how to prepare for it during a disaster. Thank you for sharing. It provides great tips for both rural and urban areas.

    • February 16, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Hi Lucie, thank you for your kind words, my friend. We must be prepared to take care of the garbage for sure. Linda


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