As survival-minded individuals, we have much to learn from the Great Depression. The individuals who managed to persevere through this period of extreme economic hardship did so by adapting and overcoming adversity. As the unemployment rate skyrocketed and household income fell, many families faced homelessness, struggling to put food on the table or shoes on their children's feet. This led to numerous fundamental changes in behavior. Getting by with what you had was of the utmost importance, hence the often-repeated phrase: use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

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Poverty in the depression often meant living in dirt-floored shacks. Photo: Dorothea Lange / U.S. Library of Congress

My own grandfather lived through the Depression as a young boy, and it had a dramatic impact on him. Throughout my childhood, he would save anything which could be reused or repurposed. Some might consider this “pack rat” behavior, but to him, it was just the right thing to do. He kept a stack of rubber bands around the shifter of his car, categorized and stored every rusty nut and bolt in the garage, and even wrapped up and saved chewing gum to chew again later. When we went to restaurants, he'd clean the scraps off every plate at the table, including the edible garnish — incorporating raw kale into his diet before it was trendy.

These lessons are still relevant today, and will only become more important in a large-scale disaster scenario. The following infographic shows nine Great-Depression-era behaviors, and suggests some takeaway lessons associated with each. If you put these skills into practice during times of prosperity, they'll be second nature by the time a crisis arrives. (Click here for a full-size version of this infographic.)

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