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Dallas, Texas, United States

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hoarding or Prepping

Compulsive hoarding runs in my family and until recently I myself had an issue with bibliomania that would occasionally result in a storage problem.  I have come to accept that it is not possible for me to read all of the books that I have collected over the years so I have given myself permission to unburden myself of them.  My new minimalist living rule of throwing away at least one possession every day is gradually freeing up space on my shelves at the rate of 365 books per year.

Many years ago a relative told me that when he was trying to throw away an old metal wash basin, my maternal grandmother protested that they might need it to bathe a baby at the river someday.  I was not sure what kind of scenario she might have been imagining where a city resident such as herself would have to go to the river many miles from where she lived for water.  I understood, however, that people who lived through the Great Depression and World War II thought twice about throwing anything out.

The panic buying and hoarding of food and hygiene supplies at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year made me think about the legal penalties for hoarding food during World War II.  How would that apply to people who had already accumulated an emergency cache prior to the start of a national rationing program?  I imagine that those preppers and Mormons that already had deep pantries were probably not standing in the long lines of shopping carts piled high with hand soap and toilet paper.

When a crisis hits, a prepper will already have a cache containing enough consumables to last the duration plus two of every tool required just in case one breaks.  In contrast, a hoarder will end up acquiring multiple instances of an item because the disorganized storage of his hoard prevents him from easily identifying what he already has, knowing where it is within the hoard, and easily accessing it without having to shuffle other items around it like a sliding tile puzzle.  Based on these differences, here are guidelines you can use to ensure that you are prepping and not just hoarding:

  • Know what you have
  • Know where it is
  • Keep it accessible


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