Sustainability is a big word, but it’s not as complicated as it might seem. It’s all about making sure that the things we need to live, like clean air, water, and land, are always around for us and future generations. If you’ve ever been a Scout, you probably know about being thrifty and careful with what you have. Sustainability is a lot like that.
When we talk about sustainability, we’re talking about using the Earth’s resources in a way that doesn’t waste them. It means not taking more than we need and making sure to recycle or reuse things instead of just throwing them away. If we all learn to be more careful with how we use things, we can make sure there’s enough for everyone, not just now but in the future too.
Earning the Sustainability Merit Badge is a journey into understanding how to be responsible with what we have. It’s a lesson in caring for the world around us, something every good Scout strives to do. It starts with you, so are you ready to take the first step?
Sustainability Merit Badge Requirements
|1. Before starting work on any other requirements for this merit badge, write in your own words the meaning of sustainability. Explain how you think conservation and stewardship of our natural resources relate to sustainability. Have a family meeting, and ask family members to write down what they think sustainability means. Be sure to take notes. You will need this information again for requirement 5.|
|2. Do the following:|
Water. Do A AND either B OR C.
(a) Develop and implement a plan that attempts to reduce your family’s water usage. As a family, discuss water usage. To aid in your discussion, if past water bills are available, you may choose to examine a few. As a family, choose three ways to help reduce water consumption. Implement those ideas for one month. Share what you learned with your counselor, and tell how you think your plan affected your family’s water usage.
(b) Using a diagram you have created, explain to your counselor how your household gets its clean water from a natural source and what happens with the water after you use it. Include water that goes down the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry drains, and any runoff from watering the yard or washing the car. Tell two ways to preserve your family’s access to clean water in the future.
(c) Discuss with your counselor two areas in the world that have been affected by drought over the last three years. For each area, identify a water conservation practice (successful or unsuccessful) that has been used. Tell whether the practice was effective and why. Discuss what water conservation practice you would have tried and why.
Food. Do A AND either B OR C.
(a) Develop and implement a plan that attempts to reduce your household food waste. Establish a baseline and then track and record your results for two weeks. Report your results to your family and counselor.
(b) Discuss with your counselor the ways individuals, families, and communities can create their own food sources (potted plants, family garden, rooftop garden, neighborhood or community garden). Tell how this plan might contribute to a more sustainable way of life if practiced globally.
(c) Discuss with your counselor factors that limit the availability of food and food production in different regions of the world. Tell three ways these factors influence the sustainability of worldwide food supplies.
Community. Do A AND either B OR C.
(a) Draw a rough sketch depicting how you would design a sustainable community. Share your sketch with your counselor, and explain how the housing, work locations, shops, schools, and transportation systems affect energy, pollution, natural resources, and the economy of the community.
(b) With your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, interview a local architect, engineer, contractor, or building materials supplier. Find out the factors that are considered when using sustainable materials in renovating or building a home. Share what you learn with your counselor.
(c) Review a current housing needs assessment for your town, city, county, or state. Discuss with your counselor how birth and death rates affect sufficient housing, and how a lack of housingâ€”or too much housingâ€”can influence the sustainability of a local or global area.
Energy. Do A AND either B OR C.
(a) Learn about the sustainability of different energy sources, including fossil fuels, solar, wind, nuclear, hydropower, and geothermal. Find out how the production and consumption of each of these energy sources affects the environment and what the term “carbon footprint” means. Discuss what you learn with your counselor, and explain how you think your family can reduce its carbon footprint.
(b) Develop and implement a plan to reduce the consumption of one of your family’s household utilities that consume energy, such as gas appliances, electricity, heating systems, or cooling systems. Examine your family’s bills for that utility reflecting usage for three months (past or current). As a family, choose three ways to help reduce consumption and be a better steward of this resource. Implement those ideas for one month. Share what you learn with your counselor, and tell how your plan affected your family’s usage.
(c) Evaluate your family’s fuel and transportation usage. Review your family’s transportation-related bills (gasoline, diesel, electric, public transportation, etc.)
reflecting usage for three months (past or current). As a family, choose three ways to help reduce consumption and be a better steward of this resource. Implement those ideas for one month. Share what you learn with your counselor, and tell how your plan affected your family’s transportation habits.
Stuff. Do A AND either B OR C.
(a) Keep a log of the ❝stuff❞ your family purchases (excluding food items) for two weeks. In your log, categorize each purchase as an essential need (such as soap) or a desirable want (such as a DVD). Share what you learn with your counselor.
(b) Plan a project that involves the participation of your family to identify the ❝stuff❞ your family no longer needs. Complete your project by donating, repurposing, or recycling these items.
(c) Discuss with your counselor how having too much ❝stuff❞ affects you, your family, and your community. Include the following: the financial impact, time spent, maintenance, health, storage, and waste. Include in your discussion the practices that can be used to avoid accumulating too much “stuff.”
|3. Do the following:|
(a) Explain to your counselor how the planetary life-support systems (soil, climate, freshwater, atmospheric, nutrient, oceanic, ecosystems, and species) support life on Earth and interact with one another.
(b) Tell how the harvesting or production of raw materials (by extraction or recycling), along with distribution of the resulting products, consumption, and disposal/repurposing, influences current and future sustainability thinking and planning.
|4. Explore TWO of the following categories. Have a discussion with your family about the two you select. In your discussion, include your observations, and best and worst practices. Share what you learn with your counselor.|
(a) Plastic waste. Discuss the impact plastic waste has on the environment (land, water, air). Learn about the number system for plastic recyclables, and determine which plastics are more commonly recycled. Find out what the trash vortex is and how it was formed.
(b) Electronic waste. Choose three electronic devices in your household. Find out the average lifespan of each, what happens to these devices once they pass their useful life, and whether they can be recycled in whole or part. Discuss the impact of electronic waste on the environment.
(c) Food waste. Learn about the value of composting and how to start a compost pile. Start a compost pile appropriate for your living situation. Tell what can be done with the compost when it is ready for use.
(d) Species decline. Explain the term species (plant or animal) decline. Discuss the human activities that contribute to species decline, what can be done to help reverse the decline, and its impact on a sustainable environment.
(e) World population. Learn how the world’s population affects the sustainability of Earth. Discuss three human activities that may contribute to putting Earth at risk, now and in the future.
(f) Climate change. Find a world map that shows the pattern of temperature change for a period of at least 100 years. Share this map with your counselor, and discuss three factors that scientists believe affect the global weather and temperature. Discuss with your counselor three impacts of climate change and how these changes could impact sustainability of food, water, or other resources.
|5. Do the following:|
(a) After completing requirements 1 through 4, have a family meeting. Discuss what your family has learned about what it means to be a sustainable citizen. Talk about the behavioral changes and life choices your family can make to live more sustainably. Share what you learn with your counselor.
(b) Discuss with your counselor how living by the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your daily life helps promote sustainability and good stewardship.
|6. Learn about career opportunities in the sustainability field. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required. Discuss what you have learned with your counselor and explain why this career might interest you.|
What Does Mean “Sustainability”?
To “sustain” a thing is to keep it up or continue it. Sustainable, then, relates to methods of harvesting or using resources in ways that do not squander or permanently damage them.
A sustainable lifestyle or society meets today’s needs without depleting (completely using up) natural resources for future generations.
With the design and construction of the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the Boy Scouts of America saw an opportunity to explore how communities can become more sustainable.
The reserve turns into a busy city of 50,000 people during the national Scout jamboree. That is larger than many towns in America. A commitment to sustainability ensures that the Summit is strong and successful for Scouts today and for generations to come.
A few key principles of Scouting guided the sustainable design of the Summit:
- Be thrifty and resourceful in our use of energy and water.
- Apply and expand outdoor ethics beyond the backcountry by considering how we use materials and reduce waste in all operations.
- Be good stewards of our human and natural communities by creating healthy places today and for future generations.
- Demonstrate leadership in sustainability by measuring our efforts and continually improving.
The BSA has pledged to work toward a “net zero ” property. Net zero is an ambitious goal that will take some time to reach. In order to achieve net zero, the Summit will need to:
- Produce as much clean, renewable energy as it uses each year.
- Collect water from the Summit’s own watershed and treat it passively (making use of natural water treatment methods) before returning it to the soil.
- Find creative ways to eliminate sending material to the landfill.
Buildings on-site are designed to conserve 30 percent more energy than typical buildings of the same size, staying cooler in summer and warmer in winter through their shape and location.
Their doors, windows, and walls exchange very little heat on cold with the outside, requiring less energy to heat and cool the inside. Beneath the ground of the Summit Center are geothermal wells that keep the buildings warm in winter and cool in summer.
The Summit is designed for people, not cars and trucks. Within its compact footprint, Scouts live close to activities and amenities.
A network of trails through the woods and around the lake connects base camps to central and adventure areas. Fewer vehicles mean cleaner air and a safer, healthier environment for Scouts and guests.
In order to reach the goal of net zero water, the Summit concentrates first on finding ways to use less water and to apply passive treatments for processing any water used on-site.
- Greywater, the water that drains from sinks and showers, is cleaned and reused to flush toilets and urinals. This will save 11 gallons per day per Scout-a savings of 4.4 million gallons in the course of a single jamboree.
- Blackwater, the water that is flushed down toilets and urinals. It is treated without chemicals at an on-site wastewater plant and then used to irrigate the surrounding forest. No wastewater leaves the site. Instead, it serves to put important nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen back into the soil.
- Stormwater, which runs off roofs, roadways, and paved areas. is also treated on-site over 70 acres of biofiltration. The dirty water is carried in a network of swales (depressions or low-lying land) and rain gardens that allow the water to soak back into the soil while the plants filter out oil and sediments.
Also Read: Environmental Science Merit Badge
A Roundup of Sustainability Issues
You don’t have to look far to see the blight that plastic waste makes in our environment.
Drive down any road in America and you’ll likely see plastic bags stuck in trees and plastered against fence lines, and plastic bottles, wrappers, and containers tossed in ditches or accumulating in piles along the banks of creeks, rivers, lakes, and marshes.
1. Plastic Waste and the Trash Vortex
Plastic bags are also among the top two items of trash found in our oceans, where they choke, strangle, and starve wildlife. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that plastic bags can also cover living corals in coral reefs, which can lead to the death of the reef.
Many large coastal cities use barges to transport their garbage offshore and dump it into the ocean. This has caused an island of plastic to form off California’s west coast that is twice the size of Texas and made up of 7 billion pounds of plastic garbage.
It is known as a trash vortex because the prevailing ocean currents keep it swirling around slowly in a circle. The dead zone is choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds that have gotten snagged in the mess.
Zooplankton are small floating animals that drift with the currents. Along with phytoplankton (tiny plants), zooplankton make up the food supply upon which almost all oceanic organisms depend to survive.
Plastic pieces now outweigh surface zooplankton in the central North Pacific Ocean by a factor of 6 to 1, according to researchers.
Plastic pieces poison the ocean environment. They attract and hold deadly elements like PCBs, a pollutant used in coolants, transformers, capacitors, and electric motors; and DDT, a chemical compound widely used as an agricultural pesticide that Rachel Carson wrote about in 1962 in the famous book Silent Spring.
Carson’s book documented the ways pesticides harm the environment and wildlife, particularly birds. Although both DDT and PCBS were eventually banned, these toxic, cancer-causing chemicals do not break down in the environment.
When plastic enters water sources, it stays there. According to the Research Triangle Institute, “every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere.” The plastics you use today will still be polluting our environment when your grandchildren are born.
Keep these things in mind every time you use a plastic bag, drink from a polystyrene cup, or buy anything wrapped or contained in plastic.
Instead, substitute reusable shopping bags, bottles, and containers, and do your part by spreading the word to end wasteful consumption of plastics.
2. Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
When the newest gadget comes along and replaces the outdated computer, television, stereo, CD player, cell phone, or any number of other electronic devices, the old one often gets tossed in the trash.
Americans now own an average of 24 electronic gadgets per household. It’s a terrible idea to just throw them away.
All electronic scrap may contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, and beryllium. These heavy metals can leak into our environment in landfills and spew into the atmosphere as ashes from incinerators.
It has become increasingly important to manage e-waste more carefully and effectively.
A company headquartered in New Jersey has created national recycling systems for previously non recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste, including electronic waste.
With more than 20 million people collecting waste in over 20 countries, the program has diverted billions of units of waste and used them to create more than 1.500 different products that are sold in well-known retail stores.
In the process, the company has donated more than $20 million to schools and nonprofit organizations that serve as “brigades” to collect waste.
Many Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops across the country have signed up to contribute to this program, collecting electronic waste from their communities and other “stuff” that is not commonly recycled, such as used juice boxes and pouches. candy wrappers, and office products.
In exchange for acting as a collection station and shipping the waste to the company, the Scouts earn points for their troops for the waste they collect.
Points earned can be redeemed for charitable gifts, or for payment of a penny a point to nonprofit organizations or schools.
3. Food Waste
What are the benefits of turning food waste into compost? Tb start with, it’s a source of free fertilizer for your plants, It’s good for the environment, and it’s easy to make.
Compost adds nutrient-rich humus to the soil, which fuels plant growth and restores depleted soils.
It also introduces beneficial organisms into the soil that are a natural way to ward off plant diseases and aerate the soil. And compost offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
If you live in an apartment and have only houseplants, you might choose a kitchen-counter compost bin.
If you live in the country and have a garden, lawn, shrubs, and trees, you can start a large compost pile that will enrich the soil on your family’s land.
Here are suggestions for how to build a compost pile outdoors:
- Build the pile on bare earth so that worms and other beneficial organisms can get into the compost to aerate it.
- Spread twigs or loose straw on the ground a few inches deep to aid drainage and let air into the pile.
- Add compostable materials in layers, alternating moist ingredients (food scraps, tea bags, etc.) with dry materials (leaves, sawdust, wood ashes). Sprinkle wood ashes thinly to keep them from clumping together.
- Add manure, clover, buckwheat, wheatgrass, or any nitrogen source to help speed the composting process.
- Keep the compost moist, not saturated. When rainfall is scarce, water the pile but do not soak it.
- Cover the pile with plastic sheeting, wood, carpet scraps, or anything that will serve to hold in moisture and heat, two things that are essential for composting.
- Every few weeks, remove the cover and turn the pile with a pitchfork or shovel to introduce more oxygen, which is needed for the composting process to work.
With your parent’s permission, go online to find out more about composting, or get tips from local nurseries. Many cities and county extension services also offer free classes in composting.
4. Species Decline
The world’s biodiversity (number of different species of plants and animals) is declining at a record rate, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organization that produces an annual “red list of the most vulnerable wildlife.
Current extinction rates are at least 100 to 1.000 times higher than natural rates found in the fossil records, the group reported. Humans are the main reason for the decline of many of these species.
“Habitat destruction and degradation are the leading threats, but other significant pressures include over-exploitation (for food, pets, and medicine), introduced species, pollution, and disease,” the IUCN has reported.
In 2012, the Red List of Threatened Species noted that of 63.837 species assessed, 19,817 are threatened with extinction, including 41 percent of amphibians, 33 percent of reef-building corals, 25 percent of mammals, and 13 percent of birds.
One strategy for preventing species decline is to protect and preserve wildlife habitats, Governments and private organizations purchase land to protect wildlife and provide nature preserves, state parks, national parks and reserves, and designated wilderness areas.
Another strategy is to manage our natural resources to provide critical wildlife habitats, such as active forest management that takes into account the value of wildlife habitat and conservation as well as timber values.
Achieving Sustainable Energy
You are now set to learn about the sustainability of different energy sources and what the term carbon footprint means, Here is a list of the terms you will find in this section and a brief definition of each of these forms of energy.
|Fossil fuels, such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas, come from the accumulated remains of ancient plants and animals. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are considered by many to be among the primary causes of global climate change.|
|Solar energy is the energy received by Earth from the sun in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible.|
|Nuclear power is produced by a fission reaction that splits the uranium nucleus, creating heat. The heat is used to turn water into steam; the steam drives a turbine, spinning a generator to produce electricity. Although nuclear energy is carbon-free, the toxic waste created by used or depleted uranium is difficult to dispose of safely.|
|Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into usable forms of energy through windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, and wind turbines to make electrical power. Wind energy is renewable and clean and produces no greenhouse gas emissions, but some people find wind turbines unsightly or noisy.|
|Hydropower, or water power, comes from the energy of falling and running water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes such as operating textile mills and other mechanical devices and generating electricity. Hydropower is a renewable energy source.|
|Geothermal power comes from the heat of the Earth’s core. Hot spring water can be brought to Earth’s surface and used to heat homes and buildings. Geothermal power generates clean, renewable electricity. its sources are mainly concentrated in the “Ring of Fire,” a volcanic region with large geothermal reservoirs located around the Pacific Ocean. Geothermal power is cost-effective and sustainable, although bringing the heat to Earth’s surface does emit small quantities of greenhouse gases.|
|Bioenergy is generated from biomass: trees, crops, algae, animal dung, or plant material that is leftover from agricultural and forestry operations.|
Also Read: Energy Merit Badge Guide
The Answer for Requirement Number 1
Sustainability is all about using things in a way that doesn’t harm them or use them up forever. It’s like taking care of a garden so it can keep growing year after year. Conservation and stewardship are a big part of sustainability.
Conservation means using resources wisely, not wasting them, and making sure there’s enough for everyone. Stewardship is like being a guardian or caretaker for the Earth, making sure we don’t harm our natural resources.
In a family meeting about sustainability, different members may have different ideas, but they might all agree that sustainability means:
- Not using up all the resources: Like not eating all the cookies so there are some for later.
- Taking care of the Earth: Like cleaning up our room, we should clean up the planet.
- Making things last: If we take care of our toys, they last longer. The same goes for the Earth’s resources.
In a simple way, if we use things carefully and don’t waste them, there’ll be enough for everyone, even people who aren’t born yet. Just like in Scouting, we want to be thrifty and think about others, not just ourselves.
Here’s a simple table to understand some key terms:
|Sustainability||Using things so they last for a long time|
|Conservation||Being careful with resources and not wasting them|
|Stewardship||Taking care of something, like Earth’s resources|
So, when we talk about sustainability, we’re really talking about being careful and thoughtful with everything we have, so it lasts for a long time. It’s a way of living that’s good for us, good for other people, and good for the planet.
The Answer for Requirement Number 2
In our daily lives, we use various resources like water, food, energy, and even tangible “stuff” that can be anything from essential needs to desirable wants. How we handle these resources can make a big difference in our lives and the world around us.
This exploration will guide us through understanding how we can conserve water in our homes, reduce food waste, design sustainable communities, responsibly use energy, and make wise decisions about the things we buy and use.
By looking at our habits, talking with experts, and thinking about how everything fits together, we can learn ways to be more thoughtful and careful with what we have. It’s about making choices that are good for us, our families, and the whole planet.
1. Water Usage and Conservation
Our family sat down and talked about how much water we use. We even looked at some old water bills to get an idea. We decided on three simple things to cut down our water use:
- Shorter showers: Instead of singing three songs in the shower, we’ll sing just one.
- Turn off the tap: We won’t let the water run while brushing our teeth.
- Water plants in the evening: This way, less water evaporates, and plants get more of it.
We tried these out for a month. At the end of the month, we found out we used less water! It’s cool to see that little changes can make a big difference.
Here’s a simple picture (or diagram) to understand where our home gets its water and where it goes:
|Where it comes from||Where it goes|
|River (natural source)||Down the drains (kitchen, bathroom, laundry)|
|Yard (from watering plants)|
|Street (from washing the car)|
To make sure we always have clean water:
- We’ll be careful not to pour bad stuff (like paints or oils) down the drains.
- We’ll plant more trees because trees help keep our water clean.
There are places in the world where there’s not enough water. Two areas that faced this problem in the last three years are Africa and Australia. In Africa, they tried collecting rainwater but didn’t always have enough containers.
In Australia, they tried using less water in homes, and that helped a bit. If I had to try something, I’d teach everyone to use water wisely, like fixing leaky taps or using water-saving appliances, so there’s enough for all.
2. Food Waste and Sustainability
(a) Reducing Food Waste at Home
Our family decided to reduce food waste. We started by figuring out how much food we usually throw away (that was our baseline). Then, for two weeks, we tried to waste less food by doing things like planning meals and saving leftovers. We wrote down how much less food we threw away. We found out that we threw away a lot less food! It made us feel good to know we were not wasting food. Here’s a simple way we tracked it:
|Week||Food Wasted Before||Food Wasted After|
|1||10 pounds||4 pounds|
|2||9 pounds||3 pounds|
(b) Creating Our Own Food Sources
People can grow food at home, like in pots, family gardens, or even on rooftops. Our town has a community garden, where neighbors grow vegetables together. If everyone around the world did this, we’d all have fresh food, and it might mean less hungry people. It also helps the Earth because growing food nearby means we don’t have to use trucks and cars to bring it from far away.
(c) Food Availability Around the World
Different places have different amounts of food because of things like weather, the kind of land, and money. Here’s how these things make food different around the world:
- Weather: If it’s too dry or too wet, plants don’t grow well. This means less food.
- Land: Some land is good for growing food, and some isn’t. Where the land is good, there’s more food.
- Money: In places with more money, people can buy things like good seeds and machines to help them grow more food.
These things change how much food there is in different parts of the world. To make sure there’s enough food for everyone, we need to think about all of these things and help each other. Like sharing good seeds with places that have bad land, or helping places with bad weather learn new ways to grow food. It’s all about working together so everyone has enough to eat.
3. Community Planning and Sustainability
(a) Designing a Sustainable Community
I drew a simple sketch of a community where everything is close together. There are houses, a school, shops, and a factory all near each other. Here’s what I thought about in my design:
- Houses: They are close to everything so people don’t need to drive much.
- School: It’s near the houses so kids can walk or ride bikes.
- Shops: They’re in the middle so everyone can get to them easily.
- Factory (work location): It’s not too far, so people can even walk to work.
- Transportation: I added buses and bike lanes to help people get around without cars.
This design helps save energy because people don’t have to drive much. It’s also good for the Earth because fewer cars mean less pollution. And because everything is close together, we don’t have to use as much land, leaving more for nature.
(b) Talking to a Building Expert
I got permission to talk to Mr. Smith, a local architect. He told me about how they pick materials to make buildings good for the Earth. He said they look for things like:
- How long the material lasts.
- If it’s made in a way that doesn’t hurt the Earth.
- If it can be recycled later.
He said it’s like picking the best parts for a puzzle to make sure the building fits just right in nature.
(c) Housing and How People Live
I learned about how my town thinks about housing. It’s like a balance. If there are too many houses and not enough people, the extra houses take up space and resources. If there are too many people and not enough houses, people might not have good places to live.
Here’s what it’s like:
- More births: We need more houses.
- More deaths: We might have too many houses.
- Not enough houses: People might live in bad conditions.
- Too many houses: Wastes land and resources.
The right number of houses helps people live well without using up too much of the Earth. It’s a big job to make sure there’s just the right amount of everything for everyone to live happily and keep the Earth happy too.
4. Understanding and Reducing Our Family’s Energy Usage
(a) Sustainability of Different Energy Sources:
We all need energy to run our homes and cars, but not all energy is the same. Some energy, like the kind that comes from the sun and wind, can be used over and over again. Other energy, like the kind that comes from oil and coal, can harm our planet. Here’s a simple breakdown:
- Solar: Captures sunlight and turns it into electricity. It’s good because it won’t run out and doesn’t pollute.
- Wind: Uses wind to turn turbines and make electricity. Like solar, it’s clean and won’t run out.
- Nuclear: Uses special materials to create a lot of energy, but it can be dangerous if not handled right.
- Hydropower: Uses flowing water to make energy. It’s clean but can harm fish and other wildlife.
- Geothermal: Takes heat from inside the Earth to make energy. It’s a good choice but can be expensive to set up.
- Fossil Fuels (Oil, Coal, Gas): These are taken from the ground and burned to create energy. They can pollute the air and water and are limited.
The “carbon footprint” is a way to say how much damage something does to our planet. The smaller the footprint, the better. For my family, we can reduce our carbon footprint by using less energy from harmful sources and more from clean ones, like solar and wind.
(b) Reduce Consumption of Household Utilities:
My family looked at our energy bills and noticed we use a lot of electricity. We decided to try these three things to use less:
- Turn off lights when not in the room.
- Use energy-saving bulbs.
- Unplug gadgets when not using them.
After doing these things for one month, our electricity bill went down. This showed us that small changes can make a big difference, and we’re happy to keep doing them.
(c) Evaluate Fuel and Transportation Usage:
We also looked at how much fuel our cars use. We realized we could:
- Walk or ride bikes for short trips.
- Use public transportation like buses and trains.
- Share rides with friends and neighbors.
After trying these things for one month, we spent less on gas. This not only saved money but also helped our planet.
Here’s a simple table to show the before and after:
|Action||Before (Monthly Cost)||After (Monthly Cost)|
These changes in energy use helped us understand how we can do our part to take care of the Earth and also save some money. It taught us that everyone’s choices matter, and we can all make a difference.
5. Understanding and Managing Household Items
We spent two weeks observing our family’s buying habits. In that time, we kept a log to track every non-food item we bought. We put these items into two categories: essential needs, like soap, and desirable wants, like a DVD.
|Essential Needs||10||Soap, Shampoo|
|Desirable Wants||5||DVD, Magazine|
After this exercise, we planned a project to go through our home and find things we didn’t need anymore. We managed to donate some old clothes and toys, recycle papers, and repurpose some old furniture. This activity helped us clear our space and understand the importance of having only what we need.
Lastly, we talked about how having too many things affects our family. We learned that it can be hard to keep track of everything and that sometimes it takes more time and money to care for all our things. We also discussed ways to avoid having too much “stuff” by being careful with what we buy and making sure we use what we have.
By doing these activities, we learned about the importance of buying only what we need, finding new uses for old things, and not keeping things we don’t need. It helped us make our home neater and our lives simpler. It’s a lesson we’ll carry with us in the future to make sure we’re always thoughtful about what we have and what we really need.
The Answer for Requirement Number 3a
The Earth has different systems that all work together like a big team to support life. Let’s break down how each of these parts plays a role and interacts with one another:
- Soil: Soil gives plants a place to grow. It’s full of nutrients that plants need, and it helps hold water for them to drink.
- Climate: Climate is the usual weather in an area. It affects what kinds of plants and animals can live there. For example, cacti grow in hot and dry climates, while penguins need cold climates.
- Freshwater: All living things need water to survive. Freshwater from rivers and lakes gives us water to drink and helps plants grow.
- Atmospheric: The air around us is part of the atmosphere. It has oxygen for us to breathe and carbon dioxide for plants to use.
- Nutrient: Nutrients are like vitamins for plants. They help plants grow strong, and animals get them by eating plants or other animals.
- Oceanic: The oceans cover most of the Earth and are home to many creatures. They also help control the weather and the climate.
- Ecosystems: An ecosystem is a community of plants and animals living together. They depend on each other for food and other needs.
- Species: Different species (kinds of plants and animals) depend on each other. Some animals eat certain plants or other animals, and some plants need certain animals to help them grow.
|System||Supports Life by||Interaction with Other Systems|
|Soil||Nurturing plants||Holds freshwater; provides nutrients|
|Climate||Dictating weather conditions||Affects all other systems|
|Freshwater||Providing water for drinking and growing||Found in soil; affected by climate|
|Atmospheric||Providing oxygen and carbon dioxide||Affected by climate; supports ecosystems|
|Nutrient||Supplying essential elements||Found in soil; part of ecosystems|
|Oceanic||Supporting marine life; regulating weather||Interacts with climate, atmospheric systems|
|Ecosystems||Community of interdependent organisms||Involves all other systems|
|Species||Diversity of life forms||Dependent on all other systems|
Each part of Earth’s life-support systems connects with the others in a careful balance. If one part changes too much, it can affect the others, and that can be harmful to life on Earth. Understanding these connections helps us take care of our planet and everything that lives on it.
The Answer for Requirement Number 3b
Here’s a simple explanation of how the process of harvesting or producing raw materials, distributing products, consumption, and disposal/repurposing affects both current and future planning for sustainability.
- Harvesting or Production of Raw Materials:
- Extraction: Taking raw materials (like metal, coal, or wood) from the Earth can harm the environment. For example, cutting down too many trees makes it hard for new ones to grow.
- Recycling: Using old things to make new ones helps save raw materials and is better for the Earth. Like turning old paper into new paper.
- Distribution of the Resulting Products:
- Getting products to stores uses energy and creates pollution. Using less packaging and moving things in a smarter way can help.
- The things we buy and use have an effect on the Earth. Using less and picking things that are good for the Earth is better.
- Throwing things away can fill up landfills. Recycling or finding new uses for old things can help the Earth.
Here’s how these parts influence thinking and planning for a healthy future:
- Think about the long term: We need to make sure that what we do today doesn’t hurt our future. Like not using up all of a resource.
- Use things wisely: By recycling and being smart about what we use, we can make sure there’s enough for everyone in the future.
- Be kind to the Earth: Doing things in a way that doesn’t harm the Earth helps keep it healthy for us and future generations.
|Step||Impact on Sustainability||Ways to Improve Sustainability|
|Extraction of Raw Materials||Can harm the environment||Use less, recycle more|
|Distribution||Uses energy, creates pollution||Smarter transport, less packaging|
|Consumption||Affects resources||Use less, choose Earth-friendly|
|Disposal/Repurposing||Can fill landfills||Recycle, find new uses|
The way we get, use, and get rid of things has a big impact on the Earth. By thinking about these steps, we can make choices that help the Earth now and in the future.
The Answer for Requirement Number 4a
Now, explore the topic of plastic waste and its impact on the environment, along with a discussion on recycling numbers and the trash vortex. The following section represents a hypothetical family discussion on these topics.
Discussion about Plastic Waste
- Impact on Land:
- Family Observation: Plastic waste in landfills takes hundreds of years to decompose. It can harm animals and plants.
- Best Practice: Reduce the use of single-use plastics and recycle where possible.
- Worst Practice: Throwing away plastics without recycling.
- Impact on Water:
- Family Observation: Plastics in oceans and rivers can hurt fish and other animals. The family learned about the trash vortex where plastics gather in the ocean.
- Best Practice: Use reusable bags and containers to prevent plastics from entering water bodies.
- Worst Practice: Littering plastics near water sources.
- Impact on Air:
- Family Observation: Burning plastics can release harmful chemicals into the air.
- Best Practice: Recycle plastics instead of burning them.
- Worst Practice: Open burning of plastic waste.
- Number System for Plastic Recyclables:
- The family found out about numbers on plastics (1-7) that tell what kind they are. Some are recycled more often.
- Commonly Recycled: Numbers 1 (PETE) and 2 (HDPE).
- Less Commonly Recycled: Numbers 3 to 7.
- Trash Vortex:
- Family Observation: The trash vortex is a big area in the ocean where plastics and other trash are caught and spin around. It was formed by currents and wind.
- Understanding: Avoiding plastic waste helps reduce the trash vortex.
|Aspect||Observation||Best Practice||Worst Practice|
|Impact on Land||Plastic waste harms plants and animals||Reduce and recycle plastic||Throwing plastics without recycling|
|Impact on Water||Hurts aquatic life; trash vortex formation||Use reusable items||Littering plastics near water|
|Impact on Air||Burning plastics release toxic chemicals||Recycle instead of burning||Open burning of plastic waste|
|Recycling Numbers||Numbers 1 and 2 are commonly recycled||Understand numbers for recycling||Ignoring recycling numbers|
I shared with my counselor that my family and I learned about the bad effects of plastic waste on the land, water, and air. We talked about how to use less plastic and recycle more.
We also learned about the numbers on plastics that tell us how to recycle them and about the trash vortex in the ocean. We all agreed that we should try to do better with our plastic waste.
The Answer for Requirement Number 4b
Electronic waste (e-waste), focusing on three electronic devices in a typical household. We will discuss the average lifespan, disposal methods, recycling possibilities, and the impact of e-waste on the environment.
Discussion about Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
- Average Lifespan: 2-3 years.
- Disposal Method: Often discarded in regular trash or stored in drawers.
- Recycling Possibility: Can be recycled in part; batteries and metals can be reclaimed.
- Environmental Impact: If not recycled, it can leak harmful substances into the soil and water.
2. Television (TV)
- Average Lifespan: 7-10 years.
- Disposal Method: Sometimes left on curbsides or thrown in dumpsters.
- Recycling Possibility: Certain parts can be recycled like glass, plastics, and metals.
- Environmental Impact: Improper disposal can lead to the release of toxic substances like lead and mercury.
3. Laptop Computer
- Average Lifespan: 3-5 years.
- Disposal Method: Often discarded with regular waste or kept unused in homes.
- Recycling Possibility: Parts like metals, plastics, and glass can be recycled.
- Environmental Impact: If not handled properly, e-waste from laptops can contribute to pollution due to hazardous substances.
|Device||Average Lifespan||Disposal Method||Recycling Possibility||Environmental Impact|
|Smartphone||2-3 years||Discarded or stored||Partially recyclable||Harm to soil and water if not recycled|
|Television (TV)||7-10 years||Left on curbsides or in dumpsters||Certain parts recyclable||Release of toxic substances like lead|
|Laptop||3-5 years||Discarded or kept unused||Parts like metals can be recycled||Pollution from hazardous substances|
The family discussed how they often keep old phones and laptops in drawers and weren’t aware of the recycling possibilities. They were surprised to learn about the harmful environmental effects of improper disposal. They talked about finding local e-waste recycling centers for their old electronic devices and made a plan to be more responsible with electronic waste in the future.
Sharing with Counselor
I shared with my counselor that my family and I discussed three electronic devices in our home. We learned about their average lifespan and what happens to them after they are no longer useful. We were surprised to learn that some parts could be recycled, and we talked about the bad effects on the environment if they are not disposed of properly. We decided to look for ways to recycle our old electronic devices and be more careful with electronic waste.
The Answer for Requirement Number 4c
Food waste and the valuable practice of composting, including how to start a compost pile and what to do with the compost once it’s ready.
Understanding Food Waste and Composting
- What is Composting?
- Definition: Composting is a natural process that turns organic matter like food scraps and yard waste into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner called compost.
- Value: It reduces the amount of waste going to landfills, enriches the soil, helps retain moisture, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
- How to Start a Compost Pile:
- Select a Location: Find a dry, shady spot near a water source.
- Choose a Container or Bin: Use a compost bin or make a simple heap.
- Add Materials: Collect green (food scraps, grass clippings) and brown (leaves, paper) materials.
- Maintain the Pile: Regularly turn and water the compost pile to help it break down.
- What Can Be Composted?
- Green Materials: Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags.
- Brown Materials: Dry leaves, straw, paper, cardboard.
- Avoid: Meat, dairy products, diseased plants, pet droppings.
- Using Compost:
- Gardening: Mix compost with garden soil to feed plants.
- Lawn Care: Spread compost on the lawn as a natural fertilizer.
- Houseplants: Use compost to enrich the soil in potted plants.
|What is Composting?||Turning organic matter into soil conditioner; enriches soil.|
|Starting a Compost Pile||Choose location, container, add green and brown materials, maintain the pile.|
|What Can Be Composted?||Green materials like food scraps; brown materials like leaves.|
|Using Compost||Use in gardening, lawn care, houseplants.|
Family Discussion and Implementation
My family and I learned about the value of composting and how to start a compost pile. We discussed the positive impact it can have on the environment by reducing food waste. We decided to start our own compost pile and selected a spot in our backyard. We gathered green and brown materials and made a plan to maintain the compost pile regularly.
Sharing with Counselor
I explained to my counselor that my family and I learned about composting and started our own compost pile. We talked about what can be composted and what should be avoided. We discussed how the compost can be used once it’s ready, such as in our garden and for our houseplants. We are excited to see the benefits of our composting efforts and to contribute positively to the environment by reducing food waste.
The Answer for Requirement Number 5a
The requirement highlights the importance of having a family discussion to understand sustainability and to identify actions and changes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. Here’s a comprehensive explanation.
Family Meeting on Sustainable Citizenship
- Understanding Sustainability:
- Definition: Sustainability means using resources in a way that meets our needs without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
- Importance: It emphasizes taking care of the environment, using resources wisely, and thinking about long-term impacts.
- What We Learned:
- From Previous Requirements: We reflected on our learning about topics such as composting, energy efficiency, recycling, and responsible consumption.
- Realization: We realized that small changes in our daily habits can make a big difference in sustainability.
- Behavioral Changes and Life Choices:
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: We decided to actively reduce waste, reuse items, and recycle as much as possible.
- Conserve Energy: We committed to turning off lights when not in use and using energy-efficient appliances.
- Composting and Gardening: We will continue our composting efforts and grow some of our own food.
- Share with Counselor:
- Summary of Meeting: I shared with my counselor that we had a family meeting and discussed what sustainability means to us.
- Action Plan: I explained our commitments to live more sustainably by making conscious choices about how we use resources.
|Understanding Sustainability||Using resources wisely to ensure future generations can meet their needs.|
|What We Learned||Reflection on previous requirements; realization about daily habits.|
|Behavioral Changes & Life Choices||Commitments to reduce, reuse, recycle, conserve energy, compost, garden.|
|Share with Counselor||Shared the summary of the meeting and action plan with the counselor.|
Conclusion of Family Discussion
Our family meeting was an eye-opening experience, as we reflected on what we had learned and discussed how we can be better stewards of the planet. We made specific commitments to change our behaviors and life choices to align with sustainable practices.
This discussion not only brought us together as a family but also reinforced our responsibility as citizens to live sustainably and take care of the environment.
The Answer for Requirement Number 5b
The Scout Oath and Scout Law are guiding principles that encourage Scouts to be responsible, respectful, and caring individuals. By living according to these values, Scouts can contribute to sustainability and stewardship in various ways.
- Scout Oath:
- Duty to Self: Taking care of oneself ensures that individuals can actively participate in sustainable practices.
- Duty to Others: Helping others and the community promotes social sustainability.
- Duty to God and Country: Respecting beliefs and being loyal to one’s country includes taking care of the environment.
- Scout Law:
- Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful: Being honest, faithful, and supportive creates a culture of trust and cooperation that is essential for sustainable communities.
- Friendly, Courteous, Kind: Being pleasant and considerate towards others fosters a sense of community and social well-being.
- Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty: Following rules, being positive, and using resources wisely promotes environmental stewardship.
- Brave, Clean, Reverent: Being courageous in making sustainable choices, keeping oneself and the environment clean, and respecting others’ beliefs contribute to a sustainable world.
- Good Stewardship:
- Definition: Good stewardship means taking responsibility for caring for resources and the environment.
- Connection with Scout Values: Living by the Scout Oath and Law naturally leads to responsible and thoughtful use of resources, promoting sustainability.
|Scout Oath||Duty to Self, Others, God, and Country||Encourages personal, social, and environmental sustainability|
|Scout Law||Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent||Fosters trust, community, responsible resource use, and respect|
|Good Stewardship||Responsible care of resources and the environment||Aligns with Scout values to promote overall sustainability|
Living by the Scout Oath and Scout Law aligns perfectly with the principles of sustainability and good stewardship. It guides Scouts in being responsible citizens who care for themselves, others, and the environment. These values are not just rules but a way of life that contributes to a more sustainable and compassionate world.
The Answer for Requirement Number 6
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s choose the career of an Environmental Consultant, as it’s one of the exciting opportunities in the field of sustainability.
1. Education and Training
An Environmental Consultant usually requires a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, sustainability, or a related field. Coursework in this area often includes subjects like environmental economics, water management, energy issues, and planning sustainable communities. Internships and practical experiences during studies can be valuable for hands-on understanding.
2. Experience Required
Starting a career as an Environmental Consultant might not require specific experience, but having some background in research, analysis, or prior work on environmental projects can be beneficial. As they grow in their career, Environmental Consultants may need to gather, analyze, and present data, requiring both technical and interpersonal skills.
3. Job Description
Environmental Consultants work for government agencies, private companies, or nonprofit organizations. They assess how a company’s products and operations affect the environment and evaluate work conditions. Their job is to gather information and create reports to help organizations understand their environmental impact and ways to improve it.
4. Why This Career Might Interest You
If you are passionate about the environment and want to help organizations reduce their negative impact on the planet, this career could be a perfect match. It allows you to combine scientific knowledge with practical applications and contribute to creating a more sustainable world. The role can be fulfilling, offering various challenges and opportunities to make real change.
|Career||Education Required||Experience Required||Job Description||Why It Might Interest You|
|Environmental Consultant||Bachelor’s in environmental science or related field||Beneficial but not mandatory||Assessing environmental impact, creating reports, guiding improvements||Combines science and practical application, contributes to sustainability|
Environmental Consultant plays a vital role in bridging the gap between scientific understanding and practical implementation of sustainability principles. If you are keen to use your knowledge and skills to influence organizations and help them become more responsible towards the environment, this career offers a rewarding path.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The sustainability merit badge is an award given to Scouts who demonstrate knowledge and skills in sustainable practices. It involves learning about how to conserve resources, reduce waste, and make choices that help protect the environment.
Careers related to sustainability include Environmental Consultant, Environmental Engineer, Ecologist, Geoscientist, and Conservation Worker. These roles focus on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable practices.
Learning about sustainability helps you understand how our actions affect the environment and teaches ways to make responsible choices. It encourages a lifestyle that protects natural resources for future generations.
Yes, starting a compost pile is one of the tasks you can undertake for the sustainability merit badge. It helps you understand the value of composting and how it can reduce food waste.
A carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly or indirectly by human activities. It’s a way to measure how our daily choices, such as energy consumption, affect the environment.
Your family can reduce its carbon footprint by using energy-efficient appliances, conserving water, reducing waste, driving less, and using renewable energy sources like solar or wind power.