Lots of things will disappear if society ever collapses, but there are a number of things that we take for granted, beyond “necessities”, that will force us to adjust our lifestyles. Shelter, water, and food will be of top priority, and most will spend their days attempting to acquire these basic staples. While some everyday items can be somewhat easily replaced or made, soap for instance, there are others that require industry and infrastructure. These are the items that will be most sorely missed:
1. Coffee– Most Americans start their days with coffee. As the aroma fills the air while it brews, few of us think of the supply chain required to put it in our pantries. Brazil, Vietnam, and Columbia are a long ways away and most of the continental United States is of the wrong climate to grow the bean. Without transportation and a system of trade, the coffee bean will quickly become a rarity at best. So much for your morning Joe.
2. Toilet Paper– For most of us, right after the morning coffee we will be in need of a little TP. The average American household uses 730 pounds of toilet and other paper products per year. Behind these little square sheets is a massive industry, one that requires fuel and electricity to operate. Once we see the cardboard on the very last roll, things will get interesting. Your bathroom will quickly become wasted space, that is if you don’t realize it is now the best room in your house for storage.
3. Refrigeration– After your morning coffee and, well, never mind, you may want to make a little breakfast. This might involve a trip to the refrigerator to get some milk, eggs, or bacon. Just hours after the power goes out, all of the food in your refrigerator and freezer will begin to spoil. Sure, next year you might be able to rely on an “ice box” of a zeer pot, but nothing is as effective as today’s appliances. You may also have the choice of using alternative energy, but as efficient as modern appliances are, they would be a big drain on most systems. Refrigerated food will turn into smoked and salted staples, and canning will be required to make it through the year. To even survive without refrigeration requires knowledge and planning, and by planning I don’t mean this week’s grocery list. The convenience afforded by refrigeration is not even truly understood by the average prepper. For the average sheep, they have no idea.
4. The Internet- Sometime between numbers one and three you will have that urge to check on the days news or maybe even see what is up at the Tin Hat Ranch. Sorry, we won’t be here. Our minds have virtually melded with the internet. I used to be a person that not only read encyclopedia’s for fun, but could remember everything I read in them. Not so now. Any bit of information I need is looked up on the Internet. I haven’t picked up an encyclopedia in ten years. Worse yet, things I should remember are quickly forgotten because they are so easily accessible. It is like our brain knows there is a hard drive in the sky.
5. Petroleum Powered Transportation– While this sounds like a no-brainer, I don’t think folks will realize how psychologically damaging not having accessible transportation will be to the average person. Your world will instantly shrink. Where yesterday you could be on the other side of the planet within 24 hours, today you are limited to just a few surrounding towns. While commerce might return, a quick trip to the store will be non-existent. Just to fathom what it might be like, measure the distance to your nearest store. Imagine having to walk, ride a bike, or if you are lucky, a horse. If you are walking, figure on at least 15 minutes for every mile. A five minute trip to the store might turn in to a few hours or more.
6. Work– Yep, I said it. Number six on the list is work. For most of us, work is highly structured. Not only do we get paid for what we do, we have a good idea of what we are doing. While we might be creative or good at what we do, these skills will probably no longer be required, at least in the beginning. What we are left with is an uncertain world, even the most prepared will find days in which we know we must be working at something to survive, but what?
7. Air Conditioning– In the late afternoon, after what might have been a long day of work, it sure would have been nice to relax in a comfortable environment. While heating in winter is somewhat easy for some of us, cooling is a modern invention that relies heavily on infrastructure. There are novel methods for cooling, but they don’t work like good old A/C. Whereas your day surrounded you in air conditioned comfort, in your home, in your car on the way to work, at work, at the store after work, and when going to bed on a hot summer day (the one I’ll miss the most), now you can swelter. Worse, many areas of the United States would be virtually inhospitable without it, they might have never been settled without it.
8. Running Water– Water will have to be available in order for you to survive but the faucet may become a thing of the past. For a majority of Americans, water is delivered right to a number of rooms in your home. Lifted and pressurized by pumps, filtered by machines and chemicals, and delivered by an intricate network of piping, all of this will go away. Even those on wells require electricity. Estimates show that the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water today. Imagine having to carry up to 20 five gallon buckets of water a day? You won’t. Your usage will drop to bear necessity with each drop having to be manually filtered by you. The faucet will become an icon, a reminder, of easier times.
9. Communications– After what would have been a day at the office or on the jobsite, you might make a call to your children, parents, friends or relatives. Not so in SHTF. We’ve previously mentioned the Internet, but communications is just one form of data that traverses it. Cell phones, land lines, satellites, all things that may become useless, depending on the event. For the past century it has been possible for events transpiring across the globe to be known instantly. Of all our modern technologies, instant communications has changed us the most. News of your children, parents, or relatives that live in the next town might will only be available as fast as you can physically reach them. If they are in another State, you may never hear from them again. There is good news though, this is one area in which we currently rely on a massive infrastructure in which we don’t have to. With a 12 volt battery, a piece of wire, and a radio, you can talk to the world, with nothing in between. I’m talking about being a HAM, or amateur radio operator. I’ve preached this over an over, some have listened. If you wish to learn more, click here.
10. A Peaceful Night’s Sleep– I don’t think I’ve ever seen this on anyone’s list, but one of the things you will miss the most in SHTF is a good night’s rest. All of the stress, uncertainty, and terror may have you laying awake in bed (actually, in a bed period, if you’re lucky). The world will be pretty silent, but any noises in the night will awaken and startle you. The safety and order of everyday life will be replaced with chaos. Is that noise you just heard an animal (which might be a food opportunity) or an intruder? Standing watch may be a new task that is shared by trusted members of the family to get some semblance of sleep. But as you lay down, at the back of your head you will be thinking about what happens when the alarm is sounded.
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