Skip to main content

$Monday: How to Make Do Without Hoarding

As more of us stare down the possibility of weeks in quarantine, it's easy to understand why some people are panic shopping. There's not much else to do when most activity and gathering places are shuttered. And many people are terrified--if not of the coronavirus itself, then of the disruptions to daily life and supply chains. But hoarding is disastrous to society; crowding ourselves into grocery stores is a serious health hazard; and there's no stockpile of stuff big enough to last through a doomsday scenario in which--oh, dare I say it--coffee beans become unavailable for the long term. (Not that I believe that will happen, but...)

What are we to do?

We can take a lesson from our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and start learning how to do without some of the things people didn't always have. Some of the things we consider "essential" are things which we can, honestly, live without. Here is a list of items that some people are hoarding so that others can't have any and some ideas for how to get along without them.


1. toilet paper and facial tissues
Did you know that paper hygiene products were not commonly used more than 100 years ago, and that soft and splinter-free t.p. wasn't a thing until World War II? And did you know that there are still plenty of folks in the world who don't use it?

If you have a bidet, you are all set. If you don't, everyone who has ever given birth knows about the cleansing power of the squeeze bottle of water. Fill up a squeezable plastic water bottle, a spray bottle, a squirt gun, whatever--with lukewarm water to give your undercarriage a comfortable rinse after using the facilities. Drip dry, use a special towel, or use a hair dryer very carefully.

For extra messy situations, cut up a bunch of rag squares and set them in a box by the toilet. This is the time to purge all your dingiest towels, washcloths, stained t-shirts, tattered blankets, etc. You can probably find a lot of fabric in your home that can be used for this purpose. Just remember: Do not flush anything that is not toilet paper! It will clog your toilet! You'll have to throw fabric squares in the trash, unless you are prepared to wash them (as you would a cloth baby diaper).

Did you forget and drop a fabric square in the toilet? Dangit, Bobby. Go outside and get a stick to fish it out and put it in the trash. You do not want to have to call a plumber right now.

You can do this, you really can. If you've ever camped rugged or visited Planet Earth (any country that isn't super fancy), this should be no big deal.

For facial tissues, use a box of old hankies, cloth napkins, or cut-up squares that can be washed and reused. Make sure they are not too raggedy at the edges (cut towels tend to unravel) so they don't fall apart in the washing machine and cause trouble.

2. bottled water
In most parts of the United States, your tap water is cleaner and more pure than water sold in plastic bottles. If you have a lot of freezer space, just freeze some tap water in food-safe containers and toss it in there. (Leave some empty space for expansion as water freezes.) Fill up water bottles made of glass or metal and stash them in your fridge door shelves. Easy peasy. Now if there is some kind of interruption to your potable water supply (which probably won't happen; this isn't that kind of emergency), you'll have a little fresh water on hand to buy you time as you learn how to boil or sanitize non-potable water from your tap or some other source. 

3. disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer
Soap and water. All the memes with 20 seconds of song lyrics. You know the drill.

To wipe down surfaces and electronics, use a disinfectant such as 70% alcohol solution or 3% hydrogen peroxide on a washable cloth.

4. coffee and other addictions
I hope it doesn't come down to this (my morning latte is one of the great joys of my life), but suck it up, buttercup. Time to detox. Wean yourself off slowly when you know your supply is dwindling.

5. fresh foods
Now is a great time to try out some urban (or windowsill) gardening. No, you cannot reasonably feed yourself this way unless you're already a successful subsistence farmer. But what you can do is supplement your monotonous pantry diet of rice and beans with a few fresh herbs, veggies, fruits, and/or nuts. Personally, I am not restarting a whole vegetable garden at this time, but I will be taking better care of my apple trees this year and tying up the baby apples in cut-up pantyhose to deter moths. We have mulberry trees and black raspberry bushes that we don't have to leave entirely to the birds. I might even put in the arduous work of collecting and processing black walnuts from my huge tree out back.

This is also a nice time to learn about foraging in your local area. Be extremely cautious about mushrooms and wild carrots and other things that might just kill you if you eat the wrong lookalike. But some plants are fairly foolproof. My family will probably harvest our fine crop of dandelions (both the yellow flowers and the greens are nutritious) and possibly try out roasted maple seeds.


This is a great time to adventure and learn and grow confidence in obtaining nutrition directly from the earth around us. Which leads me to the last thing people seem to be clinging to excessive amounts of... 

6. blissful ignorance of survival skills 
Get thee to your local library website and research survival camping and wilderness skills. Brush up on historical American pioneer skills. At the very least, learn how to batch cook your rice and beans and jazz it up with different flavors. What a time to be alive! This is a historic moment for the entire world full of real dangers, certain tragedy, and also enormous possibility for transformation. Don't let it go to waste. (For the love of Charmin, don't let anything go to waste right now. You are composting, right?) You can come through this pandemic stronger and wiser and more self-reliant than ever before, whether or not you score a box of Kleenex before the end of spring.

Stock up on skills, not stuff, and you'll stay ahead of the curve.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

Budget Bride V: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Potlucks are a classic loaves-and-fishes trick to feeding lots of people on a budget, though buffet-style meals are, for sad reasons, quickly going out of fashion in the 2020s. Cue the food trucks! Food trucks can be a great alternative to a buffet because they're mobile, they can serve personally customized meals on-demand, and they come at a variety of price points. "Healthy" food doesn't just mean fiber and vegetables or avoiding fat and sugar. (What fun is that at a wedding anyway?) "Healthy" can also refer to safety from contamination. Plagues and food poisoning can really poop on a party, so I'd err on the side of hot, made-fresh, even fried foods. It's a special occasion, after all!  Heavily spiced foods also lend safety in feeding large numbers of people due to the antimicrobial properties of many herbs and spices. Complex, bold dishes can offer a balance of special-night flair, comfort, safety, nutrition, and price. Check out your local Lati

Diversity, Get In My Belly!

Diversity is good! That’s common sense, right? Human physical and cultural diversity is good for developing kids' social skills and self-esteem, good for the workplace, and important in media representation. Diversification is desirable in financial investment portfolios and income streams. Diverse perspectives are good for education, arts, and entertainment. Diverse experiences in life are cool. Expanding the diversity of one's own life skills is useful. Natural diversity of flora and fauna is good for healthy ecosystems.  Inside the human body, diversity is good for the microbiome of our guts.  Diversity!  It's great in the world, in the wild, and inside of our own minds and bodies. So why do so many people think that exclusionary food diets are beneficial? And who am I to judge them? Hello, I'm a lifelong slim person who has never had a chronic condition related to body weight or an eating disorder. I don't think that there is anything magical or genetically frea

It's BEAN a Long Time

The days are lengthening, and hope is returning to humankind! I feel like starting something new--something that will complement the slow, gradual fade-out of the pandemic rather than put me and my family at premature risk. Instead of making travel plans or even party plans beyond distant daydreams, I'm confidently moving ahead on plans to grow a new and improved vegetable garden this spring. I'll use compost and wisdom that I've collected over the past 15 years on the ol' homestead, and I'll re-start my veggie garden using a mix of tried-and-true and new techniques. Over the years, I've learned which edible plants grow best on my suburban Michigan property: beans, peas, corn, cabbage, onions, garlic, sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes. This year, I'll continue tending to my fruit and nut trees and only plant a few seasonal veggies that I can trust to thrive--unless a fun opportunity comes along, like when someone gives me a plant as a gift or my daughter brings

Budget Bride VI: Party Like an Immigrant

One thing I'm loving about the 2020s is that all of a sudden, Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream, our government representation suddenly has become more diverse, and there has been a seismic cultural shift toward celebrating racial and cultural diversity rather than suppressing it. We are a proud, colorful people! Look around you at those you plan to invite to your wedding. What family traditions would you like to uphold, revive, or remix to celebrate the union of you and your beloved and all the people who made each of you who you are? For a wedding that is rich in tradition yet affordable, both meaningful and joyful, look for the immigrants ! Party Like an Immigrant Budget bride s, now is the time to look deep into your cultural heritage for wedding inspiration and soul. America is a great big progressive potluck, and so are most of our families. Search through your own ingredients to find spice and flavor for your ceremony and reception. Got any Jews in the family? Big Fa

International and Time "Traveling" on the Silver Screen

As the pandemic marches on, one of my favorite ways to escape the feeling of cabin fever safely (and without spending any money!) is to "travel" to different countries and time periods through the magic of historical and international films. I use my library card to access the Hoopla streaming service, which is similar to the Kanopy service offered by some other library branches. Check with your local library about free film streaming services you can access, and then sign in on your laptop, smart TV, Roku, Fire stick, or outdoor projector if you live someplace warm!  If you find that your appetite for international films surpasses what these free services can satiate, here is a list of the 10 best streaming services for international content .  I live in Michigan, which is currently in a beautiful polar vortex, so I fit my movie watching time into the early morning hours before dawn (seriously, one of my favorite ways to wake up, with a hot cup of coffee) and after dusk. Ado

Budget Bride VII: The Magic Words

The words of a marriage ceremony describe what is happening ("Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...") and how it's going to work (the vows). My husband and I, like most Europeans and an increasing number of Americans, had two marriage ceremonies, a legal process at the county courthouse and then a spiritual/social wedding celebration. We got the contractual issues buttoned up at our legal ceremony, so we felt free to be more creative on our big wedding day. Instead of repeating our courthouse vows or writing additional vows, we decided to express why we had already committed the rest of our lives to each other. We used English-translated passages by Spanish poet Pablo Neruda to illustrate the story of our relationship leading up to the joyous celebration of our union in the springtime of the year and of our life together. The Magic Words Love is free. So is expressing it in words. All brides, regardless of budget , can bring beauty, uniqueness, and meaning to

Own Your Sads and Your Glads

All human beings have complex emotions, especially in complicated times. At this moment, we all have things we are sad about and things we are glad about. Every emotion tells us something true--but not everything that is true. There is healing and wisdom to be found in embracing our emotional complexity exactly as it is, not dramatizing, romanticizing, or wallowing in our mood swings and also not repressing ourselves. We don't have to feel guilty about our positive feelings when bad things happen, and we don't have to feel guilty about our negative feelings just because somebody else in the world has it worse.  Instead, we can practice gratitude for all the lessons our feelings teach us about what we need to do and how to make it happen. This peak pandemic winter (with the spring just weeks away), I am learning how to pay better attention to the full spectrum of my emotional responses to life so that I can accept the truths they bring me and the tools they provide me to care fo

Budget Bride VIII: Let the Good Times All Roll Out

My favorite kind of wedding is a joyful wedding. Who cares how pretty the pictures are if the day wasn't any fun? Perfectionism is a big old party pooper. Don't invite it. Instead, minimize fuss and maximize fun. Design your day so that the tasks requiring order and focus (such as formal portraits) come first and aren't too complicated, and build lots of flex time into the schedule so that the unexpected can be handled gracefully and everyone has time to actually enjoy being there, in each other's company. Put some laughs and silly surprises into the reception to signal to your guests when it's time to loosen belts and ties, kick off high heels, and hike up those bustles. You want to create a mood transition between the reverent ceremony and the raging celebration. My wedding day began with elegant, well-rehearsed precision accompanied by live cello and ended with unexpected combinations of people making out in an elevator to gay dance music. That's #goals! If y

Budget Bride III: Location, Location, Location

Today's Budget Bride post affirms that a wedding isn't just about providing a cool photo backdrop for the star couple. The location and venue create the environment that shapes the whole experience. Location determines who can attend, how much and what kinds of fun everyone can have, and how everyone feels throughout the ceremony and reception. In addition to accessibility, aesthetics, and amenities offered at the site, there's also the general aura the place gives off. Is the site associated with historic events? Legendary romance? Is there anything ugly associated with it, like bigoted owners who refuse to support unions between people who are not of their preferred race or gender combinations? If your guests can possibly know the answers to those questions, your choice of venue will send a message that includes the values associated with it. A blank slate is just fine, but take care to avoid obvious stinkers like gay-hating orchards and slavery-stained plantations (that