Prepping works best when an entire community is doing it together, but this is extremely rare and not easy to achieve. This is especially true when our non-prepper neighbors, family, or friends aren’t at all interested. Yet, that is.
Still, we care about them and want to see them able to care for themselves in the event of an emergency, power outage, or natural disaster. Here are a few ways to get your preparedness missionary mojo in motion and get those non-preppers on board.
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Don’t Make Prepping Fear-Based
Preparedness is more than huddling in a bunker with a bunch of canned food for fear of social collapse or natural disaster. Rather, it is a variety of skills and lifestyle changes. Most non-preppers can see their way to making a few of these changes (baby steps) or gaining a few of these skills, but not when offered to them with a steaming helping of dread.
There are many reasons to live a preparedness lifestyle, and most of them don’t sound like fun. Many people try to avoid thinking about unpleasant things happening to them. They feel like they aren’t in control of those situations and so there isn’t anything they can do about it anyway. In most cases, you’ve lost them before you get the word “prepared” out of your mouth.
Instead, discuss how preparedness gives you better control of potential situations that come your way. Talk about the benefits of being prepared. People who are prepared save money. People who are prepared often live a healthier lifestyle. They exercise more. They spend more time outside. Preparedness gives children creative activities to do during the summer. It also gives families skills to build on and draw from.
There are so many benefits that you can promote about being prepared that aren’t based on fear. Give some thought to the particular people you have in mind and think about which benefit(s) they might be more receptive to. Begin there. Test the waters. Adjust your approach or benefit(s) as necessary.
Look at it as appealing to their passions.
Appeal To Their Non-Prepper Passion
The fun thing about preparation is that it breaks down into smaller topics. Each of these topics sounds like a piece of common sense on its own. It’s easier to get people to commit to a single aspect of preparedness that they might enjoy, rather than all aspects of it at once.
If a friend has no interest in food storage, they may still have an interest in first aid. Others may have an interest in learning how to can and store their own food, but no interest in owning a firearm. In each of these cases, while not taking on a full preparation lifestyle, each friend will be taking on a preparation skill.
Eventually, further down the road, they may want to learn more about self-defense and building a basement full of homegrown canned goods, but until then, encourage them in the aspect of preparedness they have chosen.
You can also share how your preparedness has helped you in your life. Did you ever lose a job or hit a rough patch and have storage to fall back on? Did you ever have to live for a week without running water because of street construction or well problems, or live with drought-induced water restrictions? Perhaps you, they, or someone they know have had an emergency evacuation. Talking about these experiences in a midst of regular conversation can be powerful and may reach your friend sooner than worrying about a future that may or may not come.
Any occasion for gift-giving might be an occasion to encourage prepping with practical gifts. Read this post for some great prepping gift ideas for those who don’t prep. They’re good all year long!
Before I became a person that prepped, I had a friend teach me all about buying in bulk. I also had a roommate that taught me the virtue of making my own jam and canning. My parents weren’t really into prepping when I was younger, but they did provide me with self-defense lessons, lessons in money management, and a backyard garden to learn on.
Most of the time, a lifestyle of preparation doesn’t start with someone waking up in the morning and thinking it’s high time they started a backyard farm. Often, it’s a lifestyle that grows with our situation in life and little lessons along the way. Be one of the people that makes the little lessons available.
Suggestions for Classes for Non-preppers
- Eco Friendly. You can teach natural fertilizers for a garden. You can promote electricity-free cooking or solar power energy. While many people aren’t sure about the idea of preparation, they do want to help the environment and currently, these are methods used to accomplish both.
- Healthy Living. This could include learning to make your own cleaners. They don’t cost as much and if your child chooses to drink the vinegar or lemon juice, it’s not the danger that drinking commercial cleaners is. You could also teach people how to cook a hearty, healthy meal from dry foods such as split peas and pinto beans. You might even toss in a few more “exotic” items such as sprouting your own seeds.
- Saving Money. Many young couples and new parents are looking for ways to eat healthy without breaking the bank on fresh produce. Teach the benefits of an apartment garden. Help them learn how to create a meal plan and combine canned goods to make a nutrient-rich meal. If they have babies or are planning to start a family, express the value of the cloth diaper. Also, share with them the 52-weeks savings plan.
- Cooking from Scratch. Help them learn the value of shopping for individual ingredients to prepare meals rather than pre-made convenience meals.
- Repairing Things. Teach the benefits of repairing versus replacing something, or of paying someone else to do it. This could include computer repair, car maintenance, or patching up old jeans. Also, help them discover the best ways to reuse an item (formula canisters make great planters) or find items for free (think samples). Did you ever think of using free formula samples for your baby’s 72-hour kit?
- Physical Exercise. Nothing gets you in shape like outdoor preparedness. Hiking, camping trips, and canoeing are only a few activities that would be both helpful in an emergency situation and help you drop those pounds. If you have a health-conscious friend, show them what nature has to offer them rather than that gym membership. This could bring up other topics, like having enough water during a hike or how to use a compass because you took a wrong turn at that rock back there.
- Long-term Food Storage and Methods. This is a natural place to teach about other long-term storage foods and methods. Nothing spoils a canoe trip like finding those fresh, tasty brownies in your bag are a soggy mess because the ziploc wasn’t quite sealed – unlike a mylar bag. Likewise, a breakfast recipe for crepes using dehydrated eggs and milk along with water and some freeze-dried berries is much more inviting than trying to get newbies to eat just scramble the dehydrated eggs and eat them that way.
- Self Defense. Defending yourself isn’t just owning a gun or taking a martial arts class. Situational awareness and using body language to reduce the chances of becoming a target are important too. Even fashion has a place in this discussion; you can discuss what hairstyles or types of clothing help an opponent rather than the person being attacked. Women who are non-preppers can especially relate to the need for these kinds of skills. All these things are also a part of self-defense.
- Getting Started. It’s not easy to start a storage system. There are wrong containers to store water in. There is learning about the proper temperature and lighting for your storage area. There are all the costly mistakes that can go along with just beginning to learn and act at the same time. Give your friends the benefit of your experience.
You may give a gift certificate to aclass. A Google search of the recipient’s area will probably yield a number of businesses offering classes of interest.
However, if the knowledge or skill is something you have experience and expertise in, consider hosting your own class or workshop. If you do, send your “workshop” participants away with an outline of what you just went over. Have them available for those that may be interested in starting out. When people have a plan to follow they are more likely to follow through with it. If there is a great deal of interest, you might even consider charging a small fee for your efforts.
Address Non-Prepper’s Potential Concerns
Be prepared to talk about the reasons non-preppers feel they can’t take steps toward preparedness. Be sure to listen well to understand. Their receptivity will be greater if they feel you see and understand their concerns and recognize their validity. This is essential to them hearing another perspective. And even if they don’t jump on board at that moment, you have planted a seed. Here are some issues you might hear:
Many people have difficulty seeing their way to a preparedness lifestyle if they are living paycheck to paycheck. They feel the need to address the problems now rather than a distant future. Talk about how prepping reduces costs and (eventually) eliminates debt.
In order to store food or emergency items, there needs to be space to put it. Many people live in apartments or condos. They have bought storage space for things they no longer use. They may have so much in their living area they feel that they can’t store anything. Share tips on how to hide storage, make space, and minimize what is already in their home.
It’s great to have storage, but will your family eat it? Can you cobble it together into a decent meal? Will it be nutritious? You could respond to this concern with recipes, shopping lists, and cooking classes.
Encourage them to use their food storage regularly. Days they have to go back out for a meeting or an after-school activity with the kids, use food storage to make a fast, and healthy meal. Or when those veggies they “just bought” are all moldy, pull something from food storage to finish the meal. Even better, share the benefits of dehydrating to preserve produce that might otherwise go to waste; that’s money-saving, right there!
Read this post for a few more reasons that non-preppers may resist prepping.
Final Thoughts on Persuading Non-Preppers
Although some folks you know may be resistant to the idea of prepping, you’ve got creative and effective ways at your disposal to encourage non-preppers to take action. From focusing on the practical benefits of preparedness to making it a fun and engaging activity, there are many approaches that can be tailored to the individual and the family. By taking the time to understand the concerns and motivations of non-preppers and finding ingenious ways to address them, we can help ensure that everyone is more ready for any situation that may arise.
Don’t give up on those you know who don’t prep. Remember, even small steps can make a big difference when it comes to emergency readiness. And if you find a person ready to jump in with both feet, direct them to my Prepping 101 course. In under two hours, I’ll help them create a customized plan to get prepped quickly and on a budget!
What concerns do you hear from non-preppers and how do you encourage them to reconsider their views about preparedness?
Basic Prepping Information for Non-preppers and Beginners
Originally published August 10, 2015; updated and revised by Team Survival Mom.