Turkey’s First Lady Presents Zero Waste Movement

In attempt to reverse effects of environmental pollution for future generations.


Turkey’s Zero Waste Movement launched in 2017, to tackle the growing issue of climate change. The First Lady of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan, spoke at a recycling panel which ran alongside the 74th UN General Assembly, expressing the issue of our ‘plastic era’. 

The concern for climate change grows as we see changes in weather patterns and temperatures, a rise in natural disasters including floods and wildfires and the quality of life for land mammals and aquatic life becoming poorer. This is due to several factors including air pollution and waste materials. 

Plastic waste splits into micro parts when traveling in water, which is known as microplastic. The rough saltwater and forceful waves break down pieces of plastic, which then wash up onto shores. Even on land which has no form of human life around it, plastic remains are found. Microplastics can also travel through the air, a cause for alarm as we breathe in polluted oxygen surrounding us. 

"Plastic has already become part of the water that we drink, the air that we breathe," said Erdoğan, referring to studies which took place in Colorado and France. "It has been found that micro-plastics can travel 100 kilometers in the air with the wind. This is far beyond urban pollution. Plastics thrown from one end of the world can travel to completely different places. The environmental crisis is a very strong cause for alarm,” the First Lady continued to explain that the crisis is the price of our modern way of life. Erdoğan continued by praising the efforts of the Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, as the movement itself has spread rapidly, making climate change a bigger priority within the country. 

School activities are helping upcoming generations to understand the issue and be aware of how they treat their environment. Gen Z are taking the challenge under their wing to think of new ideas to live a more sustainable life – re-useable straws anyone?

The Zero Waste Blue Project was launched just three months ago, to work towards a waste free sea. Plastic is the most common element that can be found in our oceans, posing serious threat towards aquatic life. The issue is so serious that according to a report from Conserve Energy Future, there is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific ocean, located at the North Pacific Gyre, where the number of floating plastic pieces outnumbers total marine life by six to one.
"I find it urgent to prepare a new international convention on marine litter and micro-plastics. It is time to think about it. Not talk, prepare reports, but take action," Erdoğan concluded.

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