An Action Plan for Cape Cod

Part 1.  Are We Better Off?

Part 2.  Sustaining Cape Cod

Part 3.  The Truro Survey

Part  4.  SWOT

Part 5.  Quality-of-Life Indicators
Part 6.  Opportunities for Truro

Part 7.  Confessions to Soothe My Soul and Clean My Dishes

Part 8.  An Academic Chair

Part 9.  A Personal Tool Kit

The Cape Cod Sustainability Scorecard


Perspectives on Sustainability


Sustainability Reference Desk


Articles on Sustainability


Articles on Sustainability Indicators



To download the Cape Cod Sustainability Indicators Report 2003, click here.








An Action Plan to Achieve 
Sustainability on Cape Cod


Part 7.  Confessions to Soothe My Soul
and Clean My Dishes

An Editorial by Glenn Ritt

A confession:  Here’s this editor spouting off about sustaining Cape Cod while he’s cleaning his toilet bowl and shower with some kind of scrubble bubbles, pouring bleach onto his dirty whites, and using dish detergent with long, nasty chemical ingredients -- no less amino acids.

Disconnect time, maybe?

So, before I start advocating the end of manicured lawns kept green with industrial-strength fertilizers and in-ground sprinklers,

I better clean up my own act between the kitchen and bathroom.

Helping me here is Ben Pearson of the Cape Cod National Seashore, who has been reading our stories and called me to share the park service’s sustainability program.

Underscoring his fascinating story: Virtually everything the National Seashore is doing, I can do too.

Here's the list:

  • Don’t use chemical fertilizer on lawns and vegetation.

  • Don’t water lawns.

  • Don’t mow except for fire protection around structures and along roads and trail sides.

  • Use only green or orange-based cleaning supplies.

  • Use only recycled paper products, from toilet paper to hand towels.

  • Use recycled oil for the Seashore’s fleet.

  • Use recycled antifreeze.

  • Burn used oil to heat buildings.

  • Reclaim all antifreeze and oil from the fleet.

  • Use vegetable oil in two-cycle engines such as chain saws.

  • Use biodiesel fuel for every diesel truck and equipment.

What is the bio in biodiesel fuel?

Try soy oil, made from the same ingredient progressively making its presence known in everything from replacements for milk and ice cream to hamburgers and eggs.

Now, soy oil is not quite available at your local supermarket, but green and orange-based cleaning supplies are right there on the shelves of Stop & Shop and Shaw’s, as Ben Pearson emphasized.

OK, so they’re on the bottom shelf surrounded by a dozen other brands with significantly greater shelf space. But they’re there.

And here’s something else that’s either very interesting or coincidental, or both. The real orange juice-based products (which are entirely biodegradable and, as Pearson said, made of nothing “that directly hurts the environment”) are now surrounded by brand names with all kinds of green and orange and yellow colors.

Suddenly citrus is in.

But colors can be deceptive. Some “orange" and "green” products contain the same chemicals as their less attractive ancestors.

So label scanning becomes imperative.

I realized that as I knelt across half an aisle and did lots of reading Monday.

Discovering a spray bottle resplendently boasting an orange rising sun, I read these reassuring ingredients: water, coconut oil, orange oil.

That’s all.

Its pledge: “We’ve worked hard to create products you can feel good about using. [We] clean and shine beautifully,  . . .  yet there is nothing in [our] products that doesn’t exist in nature. They’re safe to use and won’t harm our environment.”

So I plopped down $2.19 for dishwashing liquid, another $2.79 for all-purpose cleaner, and assuaged my conscience on the way home to plan the next sustaining Cape Cod news feature.

It’s a start, for sure.

Next:  Part 8. An Academic Chair

Editor's note:  All of the articles included in "An Action Plan" were published and are copyrighted by the Community Newspapers'  Register, Cape Codder, and Upper Cape Codder.