Getting into your preparedness mode of thinking means to take on a new perspective with everyday things. It’s not about going out and purchasing all the latest survival gear; but more like making the most of what you already have on hand.

Each day we toss out all kinds of items that could be critical to have in the event of an emergency. The trick is knowing what to keep and what to throw away. Keeping too much of the wrong things only turns us into hoarders.

Here is a list of 20 everyday things with several helpful uses that most folks toss out.

(Disclaimer Note – I’ve included some helpful links in the descriptions. I am not affiliated with or promoting any certain item or brand, but just including what was helpful to me)

1. Crayons.

Crayons can be melted down into small candles

Even if they’re broken or very small, crayons along with the stubs of candles or any form of paraffin wax is good to keep for making candles.


2. Lint from your dryer.

Grab the lint from your dryer and store it in a zip lock bag

Stuff that dryer lint in a zip lock bag and store to use for tinder. It you combine it with Vaseline or wax, you can make fire starters that will burn longer to help you get a bigger fire going.


3. Egg Cardboard Cartons.

Cardboard egg cartons are great for a variety of things.

When the eggs are gone, keep the carton. You can use it to store fire-starting tablets, charcoal, or to sprout seeds. It’s great for organizing small items like hair accessories, beads, seeds, etc.


4. Toilet Paper Tubes.

Stuff these with your dryer lint and use as a firestarter

These can be filled with lint, then pour melted wax in to soak the lint. After the wax dries is becomes an effective fire starter. (Cut them up into tablets for easier use). See here. These tubes are also useful in organizing cords, storing eye glasses, and as a mini seedling pot.


5. Wood.

Wood could be needed in an emergency

Any type of wood can be useful. Non treated wood can be used for fuel. lumber for construction, you can board up windows if a big storm is coming. There are so many uses for extra wood.


6. Liter Soda Bottles.

Cleaned out soda bottles can store all kinds of dry food.

When the soda is gone, clean out your bottles and use them to store dry food or water (just not long term drinking water as they can leach phthalates into liquids – but safe for dry foods if cleaned out and an oxygen absorber used). They can also be used as a planter, vase, funnel, and for garden watering. You can cut one up to make a scoop or spoon in an emergency situation as well. Liter bottles have so many uses and are worth keeping around.


7. Empty Detergent Containers.

Store your emergency cleaning water in used detergent or bleach jugs.

When you finish with your liquid detergent, bleach, liquid soap or other cleaning/soapy container, just fill it up with water and write “soapy water” and add it to your storage. If you ever need to use your water storage, you won’t have to use your drinking water to clean with because you’ll already have jugs of cleaning/soapy water.


8. Various Ropes.

Rope can be used to fix or build a ton of things

Big and smaller pieces can all be very useful for fixing things, climbing, lashing, even medical purposes. Rope is super essential to have on hand. Don’t throw any rope out, but keep a box to stash any extra ropes you find.


9. Bacon grease.

An easy way to store a useful fat

Does your family love to cook bacon? Don’t throw out the grease! Keep your bacon fat. Strain it through cheese cloth into a glass container and store it in your fridge or freezer to last for months or longer. It is great for cooking. You can use it in place of butter when frying things like potatoes and eggs, rub it over chicken before roasting, or use it as a base when sautéing vegetables.


10. Prescription Medicine (pill) Bottles.

Pill bottles are such a useful thing to store

When your prescription runs out, you don’t need to toss the bottle. Keep them stashed away as they are great for storing things. Fill them with tinder, matches, small survival items, fishing gear, band aids, pins / needles, coins, toothpicks/flossers, seeds, spare key, batteries, buttons, and even pills. You can make one into a mini first aid kit, or a mini sewing kit. Fill with water and freeze for a mini ice pack.


11. Cardboard Boxes.

Flatten boxes for more storage space but keep packing tape on hand!

These are great to have around when you need to store things. Great for food storage, seasonal clothing, household storage and the like. You can grab them and go when needed. They can also be cut up for tinder. You can even make a solar oven out of one. Keep them folded flat while storing and tape them together as you need them.


12. Glass Jars.

You can also vacuum seal dry foods in glass jars.

Glass containers are great to have on hand for storing liquids and dry food. Clean out those used peanut butter, mayo or pickle jars and have them ready to use and you’d be surprised how nice it is to have them available when you need them. It is much safer to most food items in glass as other element don’t leak through like in many plastics.


13. Buckets and Containers.

All sizes of buckets and bins and even bags are smart to store.

Bags, bins, buckets – are good for storing all kinds of things and transporting them as well. In an emergency situation, these things will come in very handy and serve a ton of uses. A 5 gallon bucket can be utilized as an emergency toilet, hand powered washing machine if needed, or to haul fuel or water from different locations. Buckets are great for cleaning, organizing, separating, etc. Bulk food storage can be stored in buckets sealed tightly.


14. Clothing not worn anymore.

In a disaster, clothing will be a big commodity

As you go through your clothes in good condition that you don’t wear anymore, consider saving them. They can be used for bartering in times of emergency, or given to those who could benefit in time of need.  Clothing can be a valuable commodity to have. You can use them in a variety of ways. Cut them up to be used as cleaning clothes, rags for torches, sanitary rags, medical cloths, sewn into quilts, and so on. To save space in storing extra clothing, use a vacuum seal storage bag that can flatten them to less them half their volume. Or store them in suit cases you aren’t using, or storage bins.


15. Lighters.

Fire starting will be critical in situations where power is out

If your lighter doesn’t work anymore because the fuel runs out, the flint and striker can still be utilized to help start a fire.


16. Wire.

Store wire cutters along with your wire

All sizes and types of wire is good to save. They can be used for building antennas, transmitting power, or even lashing things together.


17. Twist-ties.

Don’t loose those twist-ties, keep them in a zip lock bag in your kitchen

Save those bendable ties from your bags and bread. They have a ton of uses like tying plants to stakes, fixing eyeglasses, looping keys/washers/bolts together, binding loose leaf papers with holes together and securing zippers on luggage. You can use them in place of a broken shoe lace, to clean a razor out, and to keep bird/hamster cage closed. Heck, you can even use them to tie bags. 😉


18. Shoe boxes.

Shoe boxes are so super useful to have on hand

Hang on to those shoe boxes as they are super useful for small storage use. You can put them in drawers to separator clothing items and on shelves for separating toys or media.  Use them as a mini planter or to keep smaller items stashed away like sewing/knitting tools, belts, pieces of fabric, school supplies, gloves, scarves, art supplies, socks, letters, greeting cards, cookie cutters, ribbon, owner manuals and such. You can use one for your homemade first aid kit. They are a great cheap way to organize and have on hand for quick use. You can also use them as tinder if need to start a fire.


19. Baby Food Jars.

Baby jars have so many great uses

Not just for baby food, these are handy for so many things. Store small amounts of spices, salt and pepper, screws, nuts, bolts, safety pins, beads, etc.  They make a great little container to melt wax in for a homemade candle; or a container for homemade bath salts and body lotions. Use them as a sprouter or a tea light. They are very useful to have on hand.


20. Metal Paint Cans.

Metal pail cans or #10 cans

A used paint can will make a great emergency heater after it’s thoroughly cleaned out.   You can also use them for an emergency stove, or a container to store things in.

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