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 9.  A Personal Tool Kit

by Sarah James


Translated into practical terms, four questions related to creating a framework for a sustainable society give rise to a set of answers that can guide us in changing from unsustainable to sustainable practices in whatever situation we find ourselves.

How can my household, business, town, or region

* reduce its dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals and minerals?

Examples of answers:  Conserve energy; heat, cool, or power with renewable energy; walk or bike instead of drive; use rechargeable or solar-powered batteries instead of cadmium ones; avoid phosphate detergents; develop pedestrian-oriented transportation; develop wind power.

* reduce dependence upon chemicals and synthetic compounds?

Examples of answers:  Use nonchemical cleaners, natural building materials or materials with low or no toxicity; engage in organic gardening and farming.

* reduce encroachment upon nature?

Examples of answers:  Preserve open space and trees; rely on natural landscaping; reduce and/or recycle water; develop greenhouse sewage treatments; reuse existing sites and buildings before building new ones; recycle rather than use landfills and incinerators.

* meet human needs fairly and efficiently?

Examples of answers:  Build affordable housing for a diversity of occupants; create year-round local jobs and businesses; encourage local food production; use recycled materials before new ones; favor businesses that use by-products of others as raw materials for their own processes -- an emerging practice sometimes called "industrial ecology."


Through redirecting our activities in these four ways, we can contribute to the transformation of unsustainable trends into sustainable and eventually restorative ones.

Successes and benefits

Companies such as the multinational Interface Corporation and Skandic Hotels have reoriented their business operations toward sustainable practices using these four objectives as their guide, and they have saved millions of dollars in the process.

More than 60 towns and cities in Sweden -- 20 percent of all municipalities in that country -- have reoriented planning and operations using this framework, substantially reducing costs in areas, such as energy and solid-waste management, and revitalizing depressed local economies

We can do it!

In asking questions such as those above, and devising our own strategies to move toward the answers in our households, businesses, and communities, we can begin to redirect our journey toward the right direction from whatever place we currently find ourselves in society. We will also be addressing the root causes of the trends that are converging upon us globally and locally -- addressing "upstream" causes rather than arguing about downstream effects. In doing so, we will be taking the road to sustainability -- a livable future.

Last in a nine-part series.  Return to Part 1.

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.