Is it Possible to be a Minimalist Prepper? (Plus 8 Steps for How You Can be a Prepper and Still be a Minimalist)
You probably know by now that I have some strong prepper tendencies---meaning, I feel the need to have emergency supplies ready, including food storage, a ready get home bag, and weapons for defense. But in less than a month, we are MOVING. It's hitting me----I have to PACK. I've been decluttering for many months in anticipation of this move, but now...it's here. The time has truly come.
And this made me think about all of our preps, and this question: Is it possible to be a prepper and be a minimalist at the same time?
The Webster definition of the word "prepper" doesn't exist...but it is linked with being a survivalist.
"A person who advocates or practices survivalism; especially : one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society."
The Heidi addition to the Webster definition (as in the relatively new word, prepper), is "one who is prepared to survive in the event of a natural or economic disaster, as well as any attack upon our country or from within our country that affects life and home."
Being a prepper generally means having a LOT of stuff. A lot of food, a lot of supplies. Being a survivalist means general preparedness as well as having the skills to survive. They are fairly synonymous.
But what if you are (or must become, in my case, since we are moving) a Minimalist? And what the heck is a Minimalist, anyway?
According to Webster: Is one who embodies "a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity."
The Heidi addition to the Webster definition would add: "One who lives with only the bare minimum and no excess."
Can a person be both a Minimalist and be a Prepper too? I would seriously love to know your thoughts on this, either before or after you peruse the article. Please comment at the end of the post!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you--Heidi (Full Disclosure Here.)
Can You be Both a Minimalist AND a Prepper?
First of all, survivalism tends to be a minimalist endeavor in the first place. Most survivalists know how to get by in the wild with the bare minimum because they have developed the skill sets to do so.
But, with that said, how about the "preppers" who have a storeroom full of stuff "just in case?" (I'll just go ahead and raise my hand right now.) Yes, Mr. V. and I have reached a certain level of preparedness. But this upcoming move is making me look at our preparedness efforts in a whole new light.
How much "stuff" do we really "need" to be prepared? Do we have skills to sustain ourselves if some disaster did happen to strike? Are we in good shape, and could we even last in a battle if need be? Have we practiced using our tools? These are questions I am starting to ask myself as we get ready to move nearly 1,000 miles away.
I do believe it is possible to be both a prepper and a minimalist. It's all a matter of how you look at things. Obviously, I will be letting a lot of my preps go as we get into packing and moving mode. And actually, I'm good with this. I think this minimalizing of our preps may just help me feel more prepared and less bogged down!
Now that I'm having to really take a hard look at my personal situation, I realize there are other people out there who may also want to be prepared for emergencies, but also MUST live a more minimalist lifestyle.
For example, people who live in a studio or very small apartment just don't have the space to keep a lot of preparedness items on hand. They really need to be able to pick and choose what items to keep that will make them feel most comfortable.
Other folks just don't have the money to buy a lot of stuff for preparedness. A great majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and have a storeroom full of (potentially) unnecessary items isn't workable? Just having the basic emergency items on hand suffices for people in this category.
I've personally met other people who have a gut feeling they should "be ready," but can't or won't acknowledge that a true disaster may strike. These people want to have minimums on hand so they like they are somewhat prepared, "just in case," but they are not full-blown preppers by any means.
Then there are the people like me: Facing a move in which I simply cannot take all of our things with us. It's impractical and impossible. I am a prepper that must downsize. I am a prepper that is becoming a minimalist. I am still a prepper. But now I must become a minimalist too.
How to become a Minimalist Prepper:
Step 1) Determine Needs vs. Wants
I have food storage, and some of that stuff will last 30 years! You know what? I used to think it was a need. It made me feel good to have it there "just in case." But when I went on the Whole30 plan recently, then transitioned to Paleo, I realize I do not need flour that will last 30 years. Or any flour at all.
Do you know what I DO need? I need basic food items and water. I need basic shelter, communication, heat and light, and books. I need books. Just saying.
And of course we will be taking quite a lot of our preps with us when we hit the road north, but do we really need 10 huge bottles of Vodka (for my tinctures---I don't drink the stuff). I guess what I'm saying is I am really re-thinking how much stuff is actually necessary.
Especially since we are moving to a place where we can be almost self-sustaining if we want (and we do), is all this stuff we have accumulated in order to be ready for an emergency in the Mojave Desert really needed?
Food for thought.
Step 2) Focus on Skills vs. Stuff
Like many preppers, I focused on "stuff" for years. Since I've begun rotating our food supplies in the past year or so, and I realize that much of it is past its use by date (although I'm sure it's still good), I see now that I don't need as much as we have. Just don't. I plan to donate an awful lot of "stuff" to shelters and Good Will.
Skills, however, are another matter. I realize now, after the past decade I've spent taking classes on herbalism, cheese-making, fermentation, gun classes, and lots more that what I DO have at my disposal is far more valuable than "stuff."
I have skills. I don't have ALL the skills....but I am developing as many as I can. And if a prepper teams up with other like-minded people with a variety of different skills...well, now, you have a workable survival community.
With this in mind, I have developed a list of new skills to focus on in the next few years, on top of the ones I have been developing in the past decade. I'm feeling pretty good about this.
Here are some skills to consider learning:
- How to make home remedies or medicine using herbs
- How to preserve food without electricity (fermentation)
- How to start a fire from scratch
- How to cook over that fire
- How to use a compass and read a map
- Ways to communicate that don't include a phone
- Ways to filter your water or make it safe to drink
- How to make a shelter...even setting up a tent
- How to attend to basic hygiene without the amenities
And take the time to practice your new skills!
NOTE: I have a list of great places to learn some skills at the end of this post!
Step 3) Have a Get Home Bag and/or a Bug Out Bag Ready
This is a must. I don't care if you don't have a lot of money or space. Especially if you have children, you should not be driving around without basic emergency essentials. OK, children or not, you need to have supplies.
These supplies should include food, water, a first aid kit, perhaps a water filter, clothing for the elements (which will change seasonally), and some kind of shelter. You can keep all this in a back pack that's not too heavy, all ready to go if you need. You should also be sure you have some good walking shoes. You don't want to have to walk miles in high heels, I promise.
You can find out what I have in my own Get Home Bag here, and there are lots of articles on setting up your own Bug Out Bags (B.O.B.'s) online. In fact, you can even buy ready made emergency bags!
Step 4) Consider Value vs. Cost
Living on solar power means we have a lot of flashlights on hand, ready to go, because if we have a cloudy day, we may not have power. Think about the cost of a flashlight. They run between $10 and $20 for a good one, right? Well, that is money to be spent. It also takes up space.
BUT...in a disaster situation, that flashlight may just be priceless. Do you see where I'm going with this?
Take stock of the items you have that you may REALLY need in a disaster, and be sure to have a place for these. They could be the difference between life and death. Like matches, a heat source, shelter, and water. See my list of 140+ Emergency Supplies You NEED to Have.
And just because I believe in having many or all of these on hand doesn't make me a hoarder. I'm willing to let some of our preps go...but some I'm just not. It's a matter of being able to discern the difference.
Step 5) Focus on Multi-purpose Items
Some items can do double- or even triple-duty! How about this Flashlight-Radio-Phone charger? Isn't this the most awesome thing? I don't have one, but it's now on my "to-get" list as soon as we get ourselves moved. I'm on a No-Spend budget right now to keep from adding more "stuff."
Another item is the classic multi-tool. I love these, and they come in a wide range of styles and prices too.
Or how about cast iron pans? I happen to have stainless steel pans as well as my beloved cast iron cooking items. Do I really need both? Nope. And if I had to, I could use the cast iron pans over an open fire with no problem. They'll be coming with us.
You get the idea---try to have things that can serve more than one purpose.
Step 6) Consider Space
Even if you live in a huge place, space is very important. But if you live in a small area (or if you are moving and must live in a travel trailer for awhile), space absolutely must be considered. The best thing to do if you have a small area is to keep your emergency supplies together and know where they are.
There are ways to have the minimum items on hand if you have a plan.
Step 7) Organization
And this brings me to organization. Organization is vital if you are planning to be both a minimalist and a prepper. Do you have all your medical supplies in one box? Is your gear set up so you can find and use things?
Do you even know where you flashlight is? LOL---I added that one because I cannot tell you how many times I've run around the house searching for one of our 100 flashlights! Criminy.
This move will definitely make me organized, besides forcing me to downsize.
Step 8) Health & Fitness
Being a prepper/survivalist, you must be in shape and fit. You don't really need to be fit to be a minimalist, but I have a funny feeling living a minimal lifestyle actually HELPS you become healthier.
Bear with me a moment: It's been proven that when you have less clutter, your mind has more clarity. Right? And that clarity often extends into your health. Marie Kondo, who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and is a coach for decluttering families, states in her book that she has personally seen a correlation between weight loss and getting rid of stuff!
But putting that aside, if you are a fat, out of shape prepper/survivalist, I doubt you will survive for long. Just saying. It really pays to take care of your health, maintain a healthy weight, stay strong and flexible, and take care of your cardiovascular system. And I'm talking to myself here---as I have to work on all these areas at this time in my life.
Final Thoughts on Being Both a Minimalist and a Prepper Simultaneously
When the realization dawned on me that we really ARE moving, and that we need to be OUT of here completely within just a few weeks...well, my outlook on being a prepper has shifted. Actually, I've been leaning toward a more minimalist lifestyle in our living areas and clothing, so it was just a matter of extending that mindset to our preps.
I am wrapping my mind around the fact that yes, it is possible to be both a prepper and a minimalist! And it feels like a really great combination!
That doesn't mean I won't have my store-room going on again once we get moved. Don't get me wrong. Old habits die hard.
But it does mean I can embrace both lifestyles and make my own decisions about how being a prepper while still living minimally works for me (and Mr. V.). ;-)
You may also enjoy this article: How to Shop Like a Minimalist (and Why) and 7 Ways it Pays to Be Frugal (and They're Not All Financial Either).
What do you think? I'd love your thoughts on this! If you are a prepper, do you think it's possible to be a minimalist too? Leave some comments, as I would LOVE to know your opinions---
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
P.S. If you haven't done so yet, I hope you'll sign up for our newsletter! I'll also be sending you three eBooks free! One is on using essential oils, another on how to use herbs to de-stress and relax, and finally the last is on how to get your homestead started no matter where you live. Enjoy!
P.P.S. I wrote this article: Getting Out of Dodge, several months ago, when Mr. V. and I were very first considering our retirement (me early) and where to move and if to move---Some of my friends have told me it's depressing and scary---but seriously, I think it's some things to consider. Just saying.