Disaster preparedness is provided and there is a prepper. Can both be considered sustainable?
First, let’s look at prepper, the popular term used to describe people preparing for a future disaster or emergency by storing food and other supplies. There are gradations and exceptions, of course, but it is not unreasonable to say that many preppers store large amounts of water and everything they think is food (beans, grains, dry fodder, powdered rations, etc.) in large plastic containers tucked away in basements and backyard bunkers .
You could freshen up the food every year or so – replacing the canned beans with new ones, as well as heartily consuming the beer and old stuff. But then again, they might let it go to waste.
A year ago, a few weeks after the US fell into the clutches of COVID-19, a blogger from New Jersey brought up the topic “What is a sustainable prepper?” The author, who opted for anonymity, suggested that “the prepper world” was lost in the imagination.
“There are a lot of zombie-like situations where you have to shoot your way through people for whatever reason,” the blogger wrote. “We know there are many situations in real life where hands-on preparation is better than the zombie apocalypse.”
The blogger advocated a different approach to disaster management, defining a sustainable trailblazer as someone who “practices radical self-reliance, prepares to take care of themselves in emergencies, and then has the time and ability to take care of others” .
The recent horrors stemming from the record low temperatures in Texas, where enormous numbers of residents had no electricity and / or water for days, are logically linked to climate change, failing infrastructure and questionable politics. And this dire situation is just one of many examples of how things that are actually happening on our planet – where no zombie apocalypse has yet occurred – can suddenly turn life into a high-stakes game. Here in Sacramento, flooding is a constant problem and earthquakes cannot be ruled out.
SMUD, the local electricity company and one who promotes its investments in solar energy, has an emergency planning guide on smud.org. PG&E, which serves much of the region, also deals with emergency preparedness on its website (pge.com).
Is there a way to prepare sustainably?
You might find (like some people in Texas) that a camping stove and propane tanks could suddenly come in handy. There’s nothing particularly sustainable about this, but here are some disaster preparedness ideas that are considered “less wasteful”:
- Use used pasta glasses, plastic water bottles, and the like as reservoirs for tap water.
- When you’ve made a list of items that you would like to keep in an emergency travel bag or other carry-away kit, look for those items around your house (flashlights, bandages, batteries, etc.) before you head out and all new to buy.
- If storage space is limited and you don’t want to remodel the attic or build a bunker, you and your neighbors might be able to team up to create caches for essentials.
- Keep an eye on canned food expiration dates like some preppers do.
Yes, prepper again. As tempting as it is to make fun of them, they can add to this conversation. After all, disasters bring people together.