According to a 2008 Environmental Protection Agency study, Americans produce a staggering 1.35 billon pounds of garbage each day. Much of that waste is disposed of in a common household item: the plastic trash bag.
Despite being thrown away thousands of times daily, garbage bags can be an invaluable tool for the survivor. They are lightweight, easily carried, and offer many potential uses for the creative survivor.
Protection from the Elements
A good shelter that provides protection from harsh weather is critical for the survivor. In fact, protection from the elements is second only to air in importance in many survival situations. Exposure to rain, wind, cold, can quite literally zap the life out of you.
A garbage bag can be used in an emergency situation as an impromptu rain suit. Cut a hole in the bottom on the bag just large enough for your head to slip through, add a couple of slits for arm holes, slip it over your head and you have an inexpensive but effective poncho. It may not be much to look at, but it’ll keep you dry and protect you from the wind and rain.
A garbage bag can also be used to help waterproof a wilderness shelter such as a debris hut or an A-frame shelter. Simply slice the bag along its seams to increase the surface area and place it over your shelter. Secure it with limbs or rocks and you’ll have a dry place in which to seek shelter from the rain.
Collect Drinking Water
Water is another incredibly important component for survival. Without clean drinking water, your chances of surviving beyond three days are minimal.
The same characteristics that allow the garbage bag to offer use protection from the rain can likewise be used to help us collect the precious liquid. A garbage bag can be formed into a rain catch to gather pure, clean water from the skies. You can use it directly to catch the water, or you can use it to channel water into a more rigid container such as a cup, bucket, or bottle.
You can also tie it around the end of a leafy branch of a tree and allow the heat of the to extract water from the tree. It won’t be much, but every little bit can help in arid conditions.
Signaling for Help
When stranded and awaiting rescue from others, anything that you can do to draw attention to yourself is good. Many lost victims are not dressed in clothing that is easily seen; this is especially true for hunters. The camouflage that helps them to go unnoticed by their pray also obfuscates them from any would-be rescuers as well.
A brightly colored trash bag can help draw attention to you. Tying the bag to a long stick and wave it back and forth like a signal flag can help to catch the eye of searchers in distance vehicles. Spreading the bag in the middle of a field so that it’s visible from the air will help ensure that your site is visible even when you’re away or asleep.
There are many other uses for trash bags for the survivor. They can be used to protect food from flies, carry supplies from one location to another, filled with leaves and used as bedding or even a jacket, protect gear from water, or even as a trap from small prey or fish. You’re only limited by your own creativity and resourcefulness.
Weighing next to nothing and taking up very little space, garbage bags have more than earned their way into my survival kit.
What are some other uses for garbage bags in survival situations?