As springtime nears we always see an increase in a few different categories in retail. I’ve had a few conversations over a couple of these categories in general that we’ve started to see increase in particular. One of these is potting soil, the other is bottled water. The bottled water is a expected part of any conversation regarding preparedness and survival, but potting soil? What the hell does that have to do with anything regarding preparedness? In a sense, not a thing, but taken as a whole quite a bit, really. It has more to do with our survival mindset than anything else, really.

Potting soil becomes an integral part of your food program as you can use it to start seedlings. You can also use it to enhance your year round indoor or greenhouse growing programs. But that’s not the point for discussion here today. What I’m talking about is how we have seen the combination of the things we buy turn into things that actually hurt us as a society in general, and the preparedness community in particular. Why is that?

It’s because we have become a nation of easy-way citizens. When I say that I mean that we have gotten to the point whereby even in the preparedness community we prefer to take the shortcut to any end result, rather than take the time and expend the effort in doing something right. By taking shortcuts we often miss some of the benefits, and frequently we also end up with less of a result than that which was desired.

Let’s look at the bottled water issue. Bottled water is a survival necessity; no questions on that point. So what is the problem as compared to the benefits? Well, the benefits are that we know the water is potable, or at least presume it to be so. Bottled water is portable, meaning we can take it with us. Bottled water is convenient, both in storage and ease of use. It sounds like a win-win argument, doesn’t it?

Let’s look at the downsides of bottled water. There are a couple of ways to obtain this product. One way is to obtain jugs or carriers to store it in. usually in a five gallon of six liter container, each one will hold a lot of water in a small space. Another way is to simply buy water in a 5 gal, 2.5 gal, 1 gal or smaller sized bottle. Convenient to buy and take home, these containers jack up the price of something that falls from the sky for free, to an incredibly high cost for what you are getting. Check out the little shelf labels that tell you how much the price is per unit of measurement sometime.

These containers also consume a lot of resources to create, in case you were not aware of it. Plastics are petroleum based, and as an asset can be severely limited dependent upon market whims and controls. But we keep buying bottled water to store this much needed resource in. and don’t forget about the energy that goes into creating the bottle, filling the bottle and delivering it to your supermarket. True, we use fewer resources by buying the Jerry Cans and filling them from the tap, but we’re still paying for and sitting on something that comes out of the sky for free.

Potting soil comes out of the ground. That’s right, potting soil is dirt. And yet year after year we traipse on down to the store to get the missus a bag or two of plain old dirt labeled as potting soil. And we gladly pay for it because of the fact that it’s better dirt than we have in our own back yards. The reason dirt in a bag costs us a few bucks is because it’s a perfect blend of minerals, decayed vegetable matter and clay suited for its purpose.

So again, what does all of this have to do with preparedness? It’s a simple answer. Why is it we are willing to pay for drinking water in a plastic bottle and dirt in a plastic bag when those very same resources can be had for just a little effort from most of our own backyards? We’re lazy, and/or too dependent upon convenience. That’s the answer in a nutshell, and for these reasons many people who embark upon a journey to preparedness drop out because as time goes by and we acquire supplies and learn new skills we discover it actually takes commitment and effort to achieve our goals.

We run down to the store and pick up we need in handy little plastic bags and bins, and pay for it with our handy little plastic cards. We store up gallons and gallons of water in preparation for a loss of the public water supply. But do we store up the skill knowledge and tools to get our own safe water when the supply runs out? We buy bags of potting soil to start our seedlings and grow indoor plants with, but do we have the skills and knowledge to develop our own nutrient and mineral rich potting soil in our own back yard?

Part of becoming prepared deals with the accumulation of stored resources, but it also requires that we obtain and develop the skills and tools necessary to maintain our existence after an event occurs. Part of my philosophy says that preparation is the act of you making a decision to react to an event prior to its happens in order to react on your own terms and thus increase your chances of survival, as opposed to reacting to an event after its occurrence on somebody else’s terms.

The next time you stock up on a product, ask yourself what you would do if this product was not available. What happens when there are no more grocery stores selling you bottled water? What happens when the local garden supply center closes because of a widespread failure of society? What then? How are you going to provide for you and your family and fulfill your responsibility to them as a provider?

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