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Sustainability Merit Badge Helps and Documents

Scouts working on the Sustainability merit badge learn to conserve energy at home and think about how their food, housing, and consumption choices impact society at large. They make a plan to use the Earth’s resources more wisely. They also learn how the Scout Law and the Scout Oath promote more sustainable communities.

Either Sustainability merit badge or Environmental Science merit badge is required for the rank of Eagle.

Help with Answers for Sustainability Merit Badge Requirements

Answers and Helps for the Sustainability Merit Badge

Find specific helps for some of the Sustainability merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for youth leaders and merit badge councilors to introduce these concepts while working on the Sustainability merit badge.

Requirement 1: What Is Sustainability?

Describe the meaning of sustainability in your own words. Explain the importance of sustainability to society and how you can contribute to fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

Explanation of Sustainability

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Read more details.

Requirement 2: Water

Do ONE of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. Evaluate your household water usage. If available, review water bills from the past year and evaluate the seasonal changes in water use. Identify three ways to help reduce water consumption.
  2. Explain why water is necessary in our lives. Create a diagram to show how your household gets its clean water from a natural source and what happens with the water after you use it. Tell two ways to preserve your community’s access to clean water in the future.
  3. Different areas of the world are affected by either too much (flooding) or too little (drought) water. Explore whether either or both affect where you live. Identify three water conservation or flood mitigation practices (successful or unsuccessful) that have been tried where you live or in an area of the world that interests you.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

Some Ways to Reduce Water Usage

  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn the water off when brushing your teeth
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks
  • Check your toilet for leaks
  • Use your dishwasher and washing machine for full loads only
  • Water your lawn only when necessary

Where Does Our Drinking Water Come From?

This article covers water sources, treatment, and pollution concerns. These will help you find the answers for Sustainability merit badge requirement 2.

Drought Resilience and Water Conservation

Learn about droughts and how to conserve water. Check the bottom of this article for a lot of links related to droughts and water issues.

Requirement 2: Food

Do ONE of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. Explore the sustainability of different types of plant-based, animal-based and aquaculture food. Identify where four different foods (such as milk, eggs, tuna fish, avocados, or ketchup) come from and how they are processed and transported from the source to you.
  2. Identify four factors that limit the availability of food in different regions of the world. Discuss how each factor influences the sustainability of worldwide food supplies. Share three ways individuals, families, or your community can create their own food sources.
  3. Develop a plan to reduce your household food waste in a sustainable manner. Establish a baseline and then track and record your results for two weeks.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

Some Ways to Reduce Food Waste

  • Buy only what you will use in the next few days
  • Store food properly
  • Eat your leftovers
  • Compost your scraps
  • Donate excess food to a pantry while it is still fresh

Factors That Affect Food Security

Learn about factors which make it difficult to produce enough food for some regions of the world. This also covers the impact of food insecurity.

Requirement 4: Community

Do ONE of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. Create a sketch depicting how you would design a sustainable community and be prepared to explain how the housing, work locations, shops, schools, and transportation systems affect energy, pollution, natural resources, and the economy of the community.
  2. Identify one unsustainable practice in your community and develop a written plan to fix it.
  3. Identify five sustainability factors in housing and rate your own home’s sustainability against these factors.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

Developing Sustainable Communities

Some key factors:

  • Energy conservation
  • Waste reduction
  • Local food sources
  • Public spaces
  • Pollution control
  • Local businesses
  • Energy efficient buildings

Learn more

What Is Housing Insecurity?

Learn what causes issues in housing availability. This article also covers the negative impact of a lack of appropriate and affordable housing. This is a topic you should learn about for the Sustainability merit badge requirement for community.

Requirement 5: Energy

Do ONE of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. Learn about the sustainability of different energy sources, including coal, gas, geothermal, hydro power, nuclear, petroleum, solar, and wind. Identify three common energy sources in the United States and describe how the production and consumption of each of these energy sources affects sustainability.
  2. List eight ways your family consumes energy, such as gas appliances, electricity, heating systems or cooling systems, and transportation. For one home- and one transportation-related energy use, list three ways to help reduce consumption, reduce your carbon footprint, and be a better steward of this resource.
  3. List five ways you and your family could reduce energy consumption in your home, such as adjusting your thermostat, window shades, opening windows, reducing hot-water temperature, and minimizing water consumption. Identify the benefits and risks of each idea and implement if possible.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

Energy Sources

Below are some links with good explanations of each type

What Is a Carbon Footprint?

This article gives an easy to understand explanation of carbon footprints. It explains the factors involved and has a quiz to take.

Transportation Related Options

  • Ride a bike or walk when possible
  • Carpool
  • Consolidate your trips in your car by running errands all at once
  • Ride on public transportation

Requirement 6: Stuff

Do ONE of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. Create a list of 15 items of your personal “stuff.” Classify each item as an essential need (such as soap) or a desirable want (such as a video game). Identify any excess “stuff” you no longer need, working with your family, if possible. Donate, re purpose, or recycle those items you can.
  2. List five ways having too much “stuff” affects you, your family, your community, AND the world. For each of the five ways, consider the following aspects: the financial impact, time spent, maintenance, health, storage, and waste generation. Identify practices that can be used to avoid accumulating too much “stuff.”
  3. Research the impact waste has on the environment (land, water, air). Find out what the trash vortex is and how it was formed. Explain the number system for plastic recyclables and which plastics are more commonly recycled. Identify the average lifespan of one electronic device in your household, and whether it can be recycled in whole or part.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

What Are Needs?

Needs are things we need to survive, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care.

What Are Wants?

A want is something you can live without but will improve your quality of life. It is basically anything which is not a need. Also, you may desire something like more clothes, but if you already have enough to get by, that is a want rather than a need.

Negatives of Too Much Stuff

  • Wasted money and wasted time spent shopping
  • Clutter / can’t find what you are looking for
  • Makes space harder to keep clean
  • Health issues from overeating and unclean living conditions
  • Satisfaction from more is not long lasting

Requirement 7: Planetary Resources

Do TWO of the following and discuss with your counselor:

  1. The United Nations lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These include Zero Hunger, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Community, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life on Land. Pick one of these eight and summarize the goal and its current and future impact on you, your family, community, and the world.
  2. Identify how the planetary life-support systems (soil, climate, freshwater, atmospheric, nutrient, oceanic, ecosystems, and species) support life on Earth and interact with one another. Share what happens to the planet’s sustainability when these systems are disrupted by natural events or human activity.
  3. Identify how product life cycles (the cycle of design, sourcing, production, use, and disposal or reuse) influence current and future sustainability. Chose one common product to demonstrate how the full product life cycle would apply.
  4. 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.
  5. Explain the term species (plant or animal) decline. Share the human activities that contribute to species decline, what can be done to help reverse the decline, and its impact on a sustainable environment.
  6. Find a world map that shows the pattern of temperature change for a period of at least 100 years. Identify three factors that scientists believe affect the global weather and temperature. Discuss how climate change impacts sustainability of food, water, or other resources.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 7 Helps and Answers

Planetary Life Support Systems

Click on the links below to learn why these components are so important to life on Earth

Conserving the Earth

Learn how harvesting, production, distribution, and consumption of the Earth’s resources impacts our world. And see some ways we can improve our methods.

Requirement 8: Scouting

Do the following:

  1. On a camp out or other outdoor Scouting activity that you attend, make notes on the sustainability practices you and your fellow Scouts practice. Observe transportation, forestry, soil conservation, water resources, habitat, buildings, campsites, and sanitation. Share what you observed and learned with your counselor.
  2. Discuss with your counselor how living by the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Outdoor Code in your daily life helps promote sustainability.
  3. Identify 5 behavioral changes that you and your family can make to improve the sustainability of your household. Share and discuss each with your counselor.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 8 Helps and Answers

Discussion Starter Questions

  • What is something new you learned about sustainability?
  • What are some changes we could make which would be easy?
  • What are some other changes we could make which would require more effort?

Requirement 9: Careers

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.

Sustainability Merit Badge Requirement 9 Helps and Answers

Careers In Sustainability

  • Urban Planning
  • Forestry
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Marine Biology
  • Solar Engineer
  • Energy Manager
  • Conservation Work

Additional Resources

Here are some more ideas and related achievements to help with the Sustainability merit badge.

Nature and Environment Troop Program Feature

This troop program feature will help your youth leaders plan a month of meetings and an outing around an environment theme. Much of this will fit in well with the requirements for the Sustainability merit badge.

Wildlife Management Troop Program Feature

This program feature also has many elements which are related to the Sustainability merit badge


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