It’s a cliche by now to say the Cape & Islands is a special place; everyone who lives, works or plays here seems to be fiercely possessive of “their Cape,” whether it’s a special beach or hiking spot, the cafe where they’re treated like insiders, the up and coming artist they’ve discovered, their favorite tiny museum or cultural center.
It’s also a truism that our home is in danger of being loved to death. While our population more than doubles in the summer, the region’s traditional off-season population has also spiked over the past year as seasonal homes are occupied year-round.
Visitors and residents alike have been hiking, biking, walking and exploring the outdoors, accelerating wear and tear on our fragile environment. An increase in population means more water usage and flushing toilets. We’re seeing an increase in nitrogen in our groundwater and cyanobacteria in our ponds.
Creating a sustainable destination where environmental, social and cultural impacts are balanced with economic benefit will help ensure our future. It’s important that businesses think long-term and build sustainability into their business model. We must set an example of the behavior we wish to see replicated and that visitors often expect.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are important for any business — research shows that well-planned and aligned CSR not only enhances your customers’ experience, but also employee satisfaction and retention. Vrbo’s recently released Traveler Value index report noted that 59% of travelers are willing to spend more money for a sustainable trip and 64 percent of millennials are more likely to consider sustainably managed properties.
Sustainability is even more important In a vulnerable destination like Cape Cod, which attracts residents and guests with its natural beauty and unique culture. On Cape Cod, sustainability is not just a complement to economic benefit, it’s a driver of economic benefit.
That’s why I started CARE, and in the past 10 years we’ve supported more than 50 educational and solution-based projects throughout the region, raising awareness about plastic pollution and supporting local historical and cultural treasures. We’ve challenged youth to become “Cape Crusaders,” promoted “Skip the Straw,” installed water filling stations and cigarette butt collectors and introduced “Take Care Cape Cod,” a lighthearted messaging campaign to help eliminate single use plastic and reduce litter.
We’ve activated 4,200 volunteer hours, invested over $80,000, and engaged more than 70 nonprofits in the Take Care Cape Cod Summits, and the Take Care Collaborative. With so many nonprofits on Cape Cod, this collaboration is vital to finding common ground on litter, reducing plastics and recycling what we can’t reduce.
My wish for Cape Cod is that it become “the change we wish to see in the world” and that we lead by example resulting in a world renowned sustainable destination. Over the next 10 years I invite all to join CARE and to be your own leader. Get involved in your backyard, across the region and beyond. Learn more about how to reduce your footprint and get your business involved as a steward at “How to CARE” https://careforthecapeandislands.org/
Jill Talladay is the founder executive director of CARE for the Cape & Islands based in Yarmouth Port. She can be reached at 508-760-8187.