Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Trash Talk, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,825 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,626 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

Earning our Beginning Level Merit Badge for recycling and proper garbage disposal fired up my nephew, Andrew, so much that he was determined to earn his Cleaning Up/Trash Talk Intermediate Level Merit Badge posthaste.

He was garbage obsessed.

A stinkage fanatic. A debris addict. A litter king. A rubbish extremist. A trash junkie.

Ha! Get it? Trash junkie? Ah, I slay myself.

Anyway, after our newfound knowledge gathered from the local recycling center, the dump, and reading his handy-dandy pamphlet cover to cover, Andy was the man for the job. He recruited me as his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl (his title), and we got to work infiltrating the family.

First off, he brought in his shiny, new recycling container that the friendly folks at the recycling center gave us, and plopped it dead center in the middle of the living room.

photo by epSos .de via Wikimedia Commons

(Mom quickly nixed that idea, so it moved to the kitchen.)

Andy was not satisfied though; he thought we could do better. So, using a small laundry hamper and an oversized Easter basket …

photo of The Longaberger Basket Factory by Barry Haynes via Wikimedia Commons

(not quite this big)

… he painstakingly made DIY labels for his Super-smart Recycling Center (his title), and soon enough, he had three stations:

  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Glass

We were going to make one for cans, but the family had recently give up their soda habit, so we decided against it. Yay, family! I shall reward them with some fresh-squeezed kale juice soon. Or maybe we won’t push them that far quite yet …

I did remind Andy we could make a compost container too, so once again we were off on an upcycling quest. We took an aluminum coffee can with a lid and decorated it with scraps of paper and magazine cutouts, collage style.

photo by BrandEvangelist via Wikimedia Commons

Note to self: giving small boys access to glue is an adventure in babysitting.

Andy labeled it Compost for Auntie Jane’s Eggs Chickens.

At least, I think that’s what he labeled it.

Is there a badge for legible handwriting he can work on soon? No? Phooey.

As for me, being his Super-secret Garbage Spy Left-hand Sidekick Girl, I was put to work spying and reporting back to him, the Super-secret Top Boss Recycling Hero Man (his title). We spent a whole afternoon hiding behind furniture, sneaking in the laundry room, and trying to fit in the kitchen cupboards.

Note to self: You aren’t as young (or flexible) as you used to be, Janey, my girl.

If we saw a family member nonchalantly toss a recyclable into the regular old trash, we were to report to one another immediately.

Then we were to tickle them until they begged for mercy and charge them a quarter (his plan).


We were to lovingly and calmly instruct and remind them of the new household rules (my plan).

We compromised and went with lovingly and calmly instructing and reminding them of our household rules and then charging them a quarter.

Or was it lovingly and calmly tickling them? Well, no matter. Let’s just say, the family got on board asap. And in no time at all, Andy had earned his badge and the family was upgraded to Super-hero Recycling Experts (my title).


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I used to sell Longaberger Baskets a few(ahem) decades, ago and went to the Big Basket one year for a sales meeting. It is pretty awesome inside too!!

    Recycling is something our community embraced back in the 1990s and we are all grateful here for the city and county efforts to keep our water cleaner and reduce landfill waste.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *