Monday, 17 December 2012

One man's junk ...

Just a Bottle?
Everyday objects have a great number of uses beyond those for which they were originally designed. Sometimes, even a basic modification can transform the mundane into a life saving tool. We've covered a nail, a piece of string and now this third article on imagination covers plastic bottles.

Plastic bottles are more likely to be found with you and your situation or washed up the beach than occurring in the woods or desert sands. If, however, you were to find such an item in a remote survival situation, then you ascertain that at some point, human kind were around and this may be a useful datum for signalling or locating civilisation, should you resort to navigating your way out. Though plastic itself has a huge lifespan, labels and colouration can be affected by the sun and the elements, so a tatty old bottle with a faded label might indicate that someone was here, but it was a while ago. As with all packet food, take a quick check for an expiry date. This can be a ballpark indicator of at least the minimum time since the owner was about.

Just to expand on that a mo ... if the use by date was 3 months ago, then chances are the the original owner was around at least three months ago. If the use by date was today, or in the future, then obviously they were here before today, but what determines the rest of the window is the product itself. Something that quickly perishes will be sold with a short use by duration, something preserved or canned will have a much greater one. If you can make a guess as to the length of this period, then you can determine, with at least some degree of accuracy, a time window in which someone was here. Combined with the condition of the item, you might be able to narrow it down further.

And so to the bottles themselves. What possible uses, other than the containment of liquid can we think of? As always, I posed the question on Natural Bushraft on this thread and here are the results:
  • Store water (clean or contaminated)
  • Drinking vessel
  • Storage container for berries and other edibles
  • Bowl
  • Scoop
  • Bailer
  • Funnel
  • Funnel Trap, land or sea
  • Water filter housing
  • Solar purification device
  • Water preheater (painted black)
  • Hobo fishing reel
  • Fishing float
  • Raft or Floatation Device unit
  • Floating message container
  • Lobster/Crab pot marker
  • Pot/line/net anchor or weight (when filled)
  • Sauce holder
  • Boiling/cooking vessel (article to come)
  • Trading item
  • Construction material (if enough available)
  • Underground refrigerator
  • Inhaler spacer
  • Lens (when filled, for fire lighting) (article to follow)
  • Anchor or weight (when filled with sand, say)
  • Fermentation vessel
  • Candle holder
  • Closh
  • Snorkel
  • Sprayer/Fire Extinguisher
  • Pee bottle
  • Hot water bottle (not necessarily related to the above)
  • Eye protectors/Sun glasses
  • Solar bulb (Google it)
  • Shower
  • Improvised shoes
  • Indicator of human activity
As you can see, the community came up with many possible uses for the simple plastic bottle. It supports the notion that brain storming for ideas leads to more than any one person can come up with and that can be very important when resources are limited.

The last item brings the article full circle with the bottle allowing you to indicate your own presence. Imagine, if you will, you're a search and rescue agent and come across a bottle hanging in a tree. This is a highly irregular occurrence in nature and would certainly be worth further investigation. By putting a note in this waterproof container, you can inform your would be rescuers of your state at a specific time together with your intentions, had you made a move elsewhere.

Look out for resources all around you and never underestimate the value of simple items.

Keep an eye out for follow up articles.

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