The Outdoor Code
As an American, I will do my best to –
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
This badge begins and ends with a family meeting in which you and your family members discuss what you can do to live more sustainably. In between, you will undertake projects, often alongside your family, to understand the big picture regarding topics such as water, food, energy, and transportation, as well as waste reduction, species decline, world population, and climate change.
- Merit Badge Requirements
- Associated Worksheets
- Sustainability by Margaret Welch 2020
- Georgia’s Consolidated Plan For Fiscal Years 2013-2017 for Req. #2
What Are The Sustainability MB Requirements?
Expand each topic below to find out!
1. What is Sustainability (Slides 2 - 6)
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. Water, Food, Community, & Energy(Slides 7 - 41)
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 learn 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 housing—or too much housing—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
(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. Earth (Slides 42 - 47)
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
4. Waste Management (Slides 48 - 51)
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
5. How to Live Sustainably (Slide 52)
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. Career Opportunities (Slide 53)
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.
Make sure you check out Georgia’s Consolidated Plan For Fiscal Years 2013-2017 while working on requirement #2. You can also check out the following resources as they should help greatly while working on this requirement.
- How Water Gets to Your Home
- Growing Power
- Elon Musk on Solar Energy
- How Does Wind Work?
- Where Does Nuclear Fit In?
- All Energy Sources Have Pros & Cons
Don’t forget to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint based on your home, travel, and lifestyle choices using THIS Website!
And Definitely check out the Home Energy Hub to learn how you can improve!
Requirement #3, 4, 5, & 6
While working on Requirement #4, please watch Sustainability: The Simple Definition up to 5:20
Need some help looking at careers in the sustainability sector? Head on over to EcoJob.com to learn more!