Making Your Hurricane Supplies More Sustainable

When you're a kid, the beginning of June signals the start of summer vacation. Off of school for two and a half whole months, yay!

When you're an adult, the beginning of June signals the start of hurricane season. Not yay.

There are always wildly varying predictions of how each year's hurricane season will turn out, but no matter what, it's best to be prepared, so you aren't scrambling at the last minute to get that last pack of toilet paper on the shelf.

And by preparing early, you can make your supply kit more sustainable. Yes, it's possible!

There are tons of supply checklists online, including in Lafayette Utilities System's annual Hurricane Handbook. I won't provide a complete list of what you should have, but I'll share a few sustainable alternatives to popular (and necessary) items.

View a copy of the annual LUS Hurricane Handbook here.


Always keep a few flashlights on hand for if the power goes out. Hand crank lights work well, and some are solar-powered.

Many storm flashlights come with radios built in, but watch for ones that say they can charge cell phones. I tried one of these combination lights a few years back and it wouldn't even charge my Blackberry.

Be careful using candles for light, especially with children or pets in your home. Candles can be easily knocked over, causing even more danger. Plus, the fumes can be toxic if you are in a boarded-up house and you can't open the door because of the weather. If you stock up on candles, look for soy, vegetable or bees wax candles, which burn chemical free, with lead- or zinc-free wicks, which can also emit toxins.


Stock up on batteries, and choose rechargeable ones if you can. Just keep enough charged and on-hand so you don't have to worry about it while the power is out.

Conserve energy in your refrigerator or freezer by opening it as little as possible.

Keep your cell phones charged as much as possible in case the power goes out. Invest in a few backup power banks to give you an emergency battery boost if you need it. (Many companies give these out as promotional items - keep them and keep them charged!)


Canned food is the best since it "can" last a long time and remain unspoiled before it's opened. But get food you would eat normally! That way, you can ensure the food gets eaten even if it's not during a power outage. Also pick up healthier options, so you don't resort to eating pure crap.

Be sure to have a manual can opener, or that food will be staying in the can. And if you have an electric stove, look for food you can eat that doesn't need to be heated.

Save your cans for recycling, but remember to throw the lids.

Buy snacks and other nonperishables in larger containers instead of single-serve to eliminate some unnecessary waste.

When you're getting bottled water, go for what has the least amount of packaging - and recycle the bottles. I always go for gallons of water, but if you need personal size bottles, choose the ones with eco-friendly packaging, no BPA, and less plastic. And conserve your water from the sink or bathtub. Keep your showers quick!

If you stock up with adult beverages (or throw a hurricane party), get canned beer or boxed wine, especially now that glass is not accepted under Lafayette's curbside recycling contract.

Don't forget to shop with your cloth bags.

Other Essentials

I don't like to advocate for paper materials, but especially if you have a family, it can be too much to wash dishes or clean rags during an extended power outage, especially if you need to conserve water or are under a boil advisory.

Look for paper plates made with recycled content, or invest in some bagasse plates and boils, made from sugarcane byproducts. Use reusable plastic cups.

Get toilet paper and paper towels made with recycled content.

If you have pets, make sure to get enough extra food and litter in advance. Save plastic bags to reuse for scooping when your pets have to go. If you use canned food, recycle the cans! 

If you like to keep all of your supplies packed together, get a reusable container made with recycled material that can be stored away, or thrown in the car easily. Larger cloth bags also work well.

Keep plywood boards safe and protected between seasons so you can reuse them each year.


If you have children, get old-fashioned toys and games to keep them occupied, so they don't drain the battery on your computer or phone. Coloring books are fun for kids and adults.

Stock up on books from the library.

Keep board games or a deck of cards on hand.

Just don't play ball in the house!

Prepare your home in advance, and you won't have to waste supplies at the last minute. There are many ways to outfit your home so it's always more protected from storms, from functional shutters to reinforcing your roof. Building or renovating your home so it's stronger will help minimize damage and destroyed materials.

If you make the decision to evacuate, secure your house first, and choose the most fuel-efficient car you have in your family. Gas will be a scarce commodity, and prices will go up. And you may end up traveling further than you want to. Stretch what you get as far as you can. Pack smart and don't forget your valuable documents. Keep them in a waterproof container.

Even if you don't live in a hurricane-prone area, use this guide for any kind of storm supply kit you might need.

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