I love Gracie's comments (she has a new blog) in closing yesterday: "I'm sure we've forgotten a whole lot. But we'll get by, we always have." Really, that is the mentality that we must have. Today Gracie has posted about her Grandparents. I think the preparations may be as simple as looking toward how others have done it before us. We don't need the highest tech survival gear (OK, so maybe there is some good stuff out there) but going into a world of lower energy and fewer resources, we perhaps need to consider how our Grands and Great-Grands have done things. Talk to the oldest person you know about the ins and outs of the way things used to be, the frugality, the make do attitude, the ability to repurpose. In the 1970's you couldn't get my Grandparents to take an unnecessary trip in the car. When you went it was with a list and a (mental) map of everything that could be done along the way.
The topic of discussion today is sanitation. In some ways were are overly concerned with cleanliness in our society. Our anti-bacterial handsoaps don't help us out in the long run, and I've never really achieved the kind of focus you seen in ads where you should be able to to eat off the kitchen floor. However there are some things to know if services stop, or if due to hardship you lose your utilities.
Toileting: Mr. Greenjeans used to be a western river guide. In National Parks and permited back country areas one has to pack all human waste. That means making a toilet out of a bucket or an ammo can lined with a black plastic bag with a toilet seat on top. One only uses such a toilet for bowel movements. This must be dumped somewhere such as an RV dump or septic system and is a short term solution that has to be handled. Remember, urine is sterile and is full of plant nitrogen when diluted so that can go around your property. It is bowel movements that cause diseases such as cholera.
Growing up I lived with my Grandparents at a cabin high in the Rocky Mountains (over 10,000 altitude). edit: to clarify we stayed there in the summer but I lived with my parents. We had a wood cook stove like the one that Sharon described so beautifully yesterday. We also had an outhouse. The cabin and outhouse was situatied on top of a hill. The outhouse was a big hole in the ground with two 55 gal drum placed deeply inside and a two seater log outhouse built over the top (I never understood two seaters but that' beside the point). I always checked for spiders sitting down and certainly didn't linger. Grandma fiercly taught me never to walk too closely behind an outhouse incase the earth gave way over the pit. On cool nights they put a bucket with a toilet seat on the porch or even by the wood stove. Periodically they'd put lime or sawdust in the toilet and in theory they had it pumped but I was never there for that.
If one is investing in green technology and long term solutions, there are composting toilets which turns potentially harmful human waste into safe compost. These toilets can be purchased a variety of locations for a pretty good amount of money. However, I was surprised to find a very good article, including DIY composting toilets at Wikipedia. The most indepth discussion of human waste and safely converting it to something inocuous can be found in the book,The Humanure Handbook.
While we are on toilet talk, there is a blog challenge getting underway at Crunchy Chicken's for using cloth TP. The discussion is pretty detailed - I encourage you to go and learn. I switched to the Diva cup for menstration this summer and like it much better than any other product, commercial or otherwise. The girls arn't going there, but I may get a couple for them just incase purchasing power for disposables get severely curtailed. I'll be making cloth TP and setting up smaller buckets as part of my preparations. Really, for those who had had kids in cloth diapers, it's not so much of a stretch. I'm not pushing my family as they are ready to mutany over hitting the 3 month mark on the homemade laundry soap.
I bought the laundry soap suplies and used the recipe from the company, Soaps Gone Buy. I ordered bulk supplies and think I'm good for a year or more. We've made the powdered soap and the problem we are having is that the Fels Naptha was so hard to grate that we ended up using a cheese grater (one bought from a yard sale and dedicated to the purpose). The shreads are too large and don't disolve all the way but Chibi wasn't strong enough for the smaller grate. The family also thinks that things aren't getting clean enough and I've started adding oxyclean to the loads. Next we'll try making the liquid laundry soap and have saved our last bottle from Tide for putting the homemade stuff in. A good discussion on older to ancient soap making can be found here.
As far as garbage is concerned, if you are not buying many things and you are recycling, composting, and reusing things, your garbage is lessened. Paper and gets burned in the wood stove, cardboard composts or can be used in the garden, plastics get eliminated as purchacing goes down. I surely don't throw away my canning jars after opening the food!
I recently stocked up on toothbrushes. I didn't stock up on toothpaste as one can always make toothpowder from baking soda. Yes, toothbrushes can be invented too, but let's allow some time for that.
Remember that Grandparents used to take illness and injury more seriously. They lived in pre-antibiotic days where infection was a serious thing. If you don't want to seek medical care, take care of rashes and simple cuts, wash your hands and take care if you get sick.
It is getting popular to make and use green cleaning products with vinigar and lemon. Look at a few recipees and gather together the ingredients.