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plastic fork

How far would someone go to get free stuff, and where do you draw the line between smart prepping and taking advantage of others? Many new preppers can be led astray by bad prepping instruction.

There is a lot of prepping advice out there, and not all of it is good. I recently read an article that focused on getting tons of free stuff to use as preps. The advice really left a bad taste in my mouth: one because it advised spending a lot of time and energy for small gain, and two, because it seemed to focus on taking advantage of others.

Of course, I like getting free stuff for preps. I will take practically anything anyone will give me, with the thought that it can either be used as a prep or passed on for someone else’s use. I’ll gladly recycle cookie tins to make charcoal or take some free firewood off your hands, if it is getting in your way.

What doesn’t make sense to me is following the advice of those who urge me to grab up as many condiment packets at restaurants as I can, sneak out with extra sets of plastic utensils at lunch counters, or to go foraging for fruit in my neighbor’s yard.

These things can not only give preppers a bad reputation, but don’t really pay off. Plastic forks are cheap. I can buy 300 of them for less than 20 bucks, even less than that, if I have a coupon. Imagine the energy and the bad feelings it would require to “take advantage” of 300 extra forks at my local Chic-Fil-A. Plus, doesn’t it make more sense to carry a couple of sturdy reusable forks instead?

I might assume that my neighbor doesn’t mind me taking some fruit out of her yard or that the state is okay if I glean firewood from public lands, but why not ask first? The consequences of that time “taking advantage” of freebies may become all too apparent once the SHTF.

Let us make a quick, but obvious distinction. There is nothing wrong with ripping out that free sample of shampoo from a magazine and throwing it in your bug out bag, but advising someone to scour libraries and magazine racks for as many samples as possible makes my tongue itch. Even if one does not have an ethical objection to these practices, you would think the amount of time and energy to complete these snatching missions would cause pause. Why not focus that time on food storage, personal safety, training or contingency plans?

It is up to the more sophisticated preppers, such as you dear readers, to educate and guide anyone new to prepping so they don’t fall into the trap of following this kind of advice.

And now, I’m curious. Please comment with the strangest piece of prepping advice you have ever read or heard.

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