Global economic meltdown, mass natural disasters, pandemics… Whatever the apocalyptic scenario, “preppers” are ready for it. Lamps made from potatoes, toilet paper from cloth, toothpaste from glycerin and… lots of Spam.

It’s no surprise that the trend, known as “survivalism”, was born in the United States, where the principle of self-reliance is one of the founding values of society. Convinced that disaster could strike when we least expect it, the most prudent of US citizens are preparing for the worst.

One self-described “prepper” explains the reason for his lifestyle change to emergency “survivalism” on his website: “In May of last year, I had an epiphany: bad times lay ahead. I accurately predicted the current financial crisis back then, and with my new-found knowledge, I don’t see much hope for recovery any time soon. I’ve learned that our “global economy” is nothing more than a great Ponzi/pyramid scheme, and I’ve come to realise that the only way to insulate one’s self from the collapse of that scheme is to prepare for self reliant living.”

“Preppers” use the Web to share warnings, tips and do-it-yourself instructions for making everything from toothpaste to cloth female hygiene pads.

Most see owning a gun to defend their stockpile as a natural part of being prepared, and are staunch advocates of the right to bear arms. Women “preppers” are experts at stockpiling year-long supplies of food, and come up with ingenious recipes for cooking with anything canned, frozen or dehydrated.

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