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s'morestashe

Question about Sustainability MB...

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Ok, so my son asked my husband and I to keep track on a chart the things that we purchase. I've been doing that but now he has to say whether the items are essential or desirable. Kind of some gray area there. 

Would items purchased for possibility of emergency (like bug out bag stuff) be essential or desirable?

Would items purchased to maintain house be essential or desirable like air/water filters or new knob to replace broken ones?

What about new fence to keep in dog?

What about new socks for son? Probably could have kept wearing the ratty ones, but they didn't look great.

Certainly, we could survive without these, but they are not really in the category of desirable like the CD they gave in the example, where clearly that is a want and not a need.

 

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This is what makes the badge interesting.

 

Let the boy use his judgement. That's part of the exercise. He might have to just note Mostly E, or Mostly D. Then discuss with his counselor.

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I think what he'll find out is that 90% of the items purchased are "desirable" and not "essential".

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Yes, I think "they" are more interested in the Scout learning to prioritize things, and to think about needs vs. wants, and to be able to explain the answer, than in what the answer actually is. Come to think of it, most adults are not very good at this either. Maybe everybody should be required to pass this merit badge, not just boys going for Eagle. :)

Edited by NJCubScouter

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Ok, so my son asked my husband and I to keep track on a chart the things that we purchase. I've been doing that but now he has to say whether the items are essential or desirable. Kind of some gray area there. 

1. Would items purchased for possibility of emergency (like bug out bag stuff) be essential or desirable?

2. Would items purchased to maintain house be essential or desirable like air/water filters or new knob to replace broken ones?

3. What about new fence to keep in dog?

4. What about new socks for son? Probably could have kept wearing the ratty ones, but they didn't look great.

Certainly, we could survive without these, but they are not really in the category of desirable like the CD they gave in the example, where clearly that is a want and not a need.

 

1. You are, right now, in no danger of the scale of disaster that would require a "bug-out" bag - desirable

2. You can boil water to disinfect and learn to love the taste of iron/sulfur/chlorine (desirable) and you can live with a broken doorknob (desirable)

3. Get rid of the dog, its not essential (unless you live on a farm, and its a working breed that actually works)

4. Teach son to darn socks; replacing them is desirable (as is washing them occasionally)

 

:D

 

The goal of the exercise is for your Scout to come to the realization that our consumerist capitalist society is destroying the planet while we fulfill our unbridled desires.

Edited by MrBob

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My son had additional categories like "necessary based on a choice to have something that is a want."  This included things like dog food which was necessary once we decided we wanted a dog.  Another catagory was "desirable method to satisify a need."  That included things like eating out.  He also had "necessary to fulfill a necessity."  That included my train ticket to get to work (I have to get to work to work and I need to work to afford necessities).  As others have said, the thinking process is what matters.  

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Yep - that's the way to handle it.  There are no right or wrong answers to this question (though I do know people that would disagree).  Some things that might be desirable to some folks would be essential to others and vis-a-versa.

 

A good example would be bottled water.  In most of the United States, where good, potable water comes from the nearest tap, bottled water would probably be considered desirable.  But if you live somewhere where the water has large amounts of lead, or where a disaster like a flood has overwhelmed the water supply, then bottled water would be an essential.

 

I thought Bob's answers were interesting but would have to say it depends on the situation.  Is a bug-out bag desirable?  Yeah, probably for people who live in relatively geologically stable areas like Illinois, Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest - but if you live near forests in the West during fire season, or in areas where earthquakes or hurricanes are common, then I would say a bug-out bag is essential.  Broken door knob.  Again, what's the situation - is it a cosmetic break?  Desirable (until it's time to sell the house) - will no longer lock and secure your home?  Essential.

 

The goal of this exercise is to get Scouts to think about their purchasing choices and what impacts those choices might have on a larger scale.    The thing is that most discussions on "sustainability" tend to veer off into hypotheticals rather than practicalities for individuals/families and part of the reason is that perhaps we're not asking the questions in the right way.

 

While keeping track of purchases is a good start, it could be accompanied by a log keeping track of waste - especially something like food.  How often do families buy the 10 pound bag of potatoes because it's on sale then throw out 5 pounds of it because they've gone bad before you can use it.  If you're hungry for an apple, do you buy one apple or a 5 pound bag?  Those are the kinds of questions that should also be considered.

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3. Get rid of the dog, its not essential (unless you live on a farm, and its a working breed that actually works)

My wife would beg to differ. At times when we have been "between dogs", I have tried to get having a dog put in the "desirable but not essential" category but the "between dogs" period never seems to last very long. When we had multiple children still living at home, the number of animals living in our home started growing, but I managed to put a "one animal at a time, and it's a dog" rule into effect. Needs vs. wants in action, I guess.

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Ok, so my son asked my husband and I to keep track on a chart the things that we purchase. I've been doing that but now he has to say whether the items are essential or desirable. Kind of some gray area there. 

Would items purchased for possibility of emergency (like bug out bag stuff) be essential or desirable?

Would items purchased to maintain house be essential or desirable like air/water filters or new knob to replace broken ones?

What about new fence to keep in dog?

What about new socks for son? Probably could have kept wearing the ratty ones, but they didn't look great.

Certainly, we could survive without these, but they are not really in the category of desirable like the CD they gave in the example, where clearly that is a want and not a need.

Why did you punish your son with that MB?  Environmental Science is a better MB and is actually fun. 

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Why did you punish your son with that MB?  Environmental Science is a better MB and is actually fun. 

Huh? He picked out the sustainability MB. Not sure what that has to do with envir science? Is it similar? I could suggest that he look at that one.

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Huh? He picked out the sustainability MB. Not sure what that has to do with envir science? Is it similar? I could suggest that he look at that one.

 

Well, for Eagle requirements--it's an either/or--either Environmental Science or Sustainability.  IMHO, Sustainability takes the worst parts of Environmental Science, and expands them into a merit badge. Environmental science is much more hands-on, and fun. 

 

For two truly fun, nature-oriented merit badges (not Eagle Required)--Nature, and  Fish and Wildlife Management are good badges. 

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I used to teach a Sustainability course in college almost 20 years ago. It COULD be exciting but the BSA requirements are kind of a bore. I pitied the lads when I overheard almost 30 minutes on water meter reading. I may just have to take that one over...

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Well, for Eagle requirements--it's an either/or--either Environmental Science or Sustainability.  IMHO, Sustainability takes the worst parts of Environmental Science, and expands them into a merit badge. Environmental science is much more hands-on, and fun. 

 

For two truly fun, nature-oriented merit badges (not Eagle Required)--Nature, and  Fish and Wildlife Management are good badges. 

Oh! Got it. The people in our troop keep telling him to focus on rank and the Eagle track but he would rather do some fun badges too. Not sure he knew that sustainability fit the Eagle reqs. Thanks for the recommendations on Nature and Fish/Wildlife. I will suggest those to him.

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I used to teach a Sustainability course in college almost 20 years ago. It COULD be exciting but the BSA requirements are kind of a bore. I pitied the lads when I overheard almost 30 minutes on water meter reading. I may just have to take that one over...

I thought it was ok. He liked going to the sustainable building supply store and seeing the different products. Definitely not buying one of those composting toilets. The rubbery toilet "bowl" looks like you would have to bleach/scrub it with every use. Gross.

 

Also, because we are already pretty green due to having these exercises through the school and cub scouts, it was tough to reduce carbon footprint even more. We did for those few weeks but it was super tough and not something I would sustain.

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