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  • Jodie Harburt

#MyClean Beach

A movement of multiple acts of cleaning to prompt NOT LITTERING in the first place and to instigate that as consumers we avoid single use plastic.

Beach Clean Up Photo Lucy Tooze

On May the 5th we had a Clean up on the local beaches of Şile, for those who missed my post about the event this is a brief synopsis of why we bother, what we gained from trying and how we plan to take it from here.

So far Turkey has been slow to pick up on the international improvement regarding littering and recycling. Some municipalities have local success and many, like Şile on the Black Sea coast are struggling. (That's an understatement, in fact the local governor referred to the situation as a "nightmare")

The present efforts require scrutiny to see where improvement can be made in areas such as the location and visibility of bins, recycling infrastructure and the design and use of powerful education tools such as visible signs, fines, public awareness campaigns and volunteer clean up days. The good news is that Turkey has a dynamic and curious population that can adopt better habits and practices swiftly once educated and convinced.

Places like Şile face the extra burden of having a high influx of weekend and summer visitors, so though local education efforts are paramount the only way to ensure pristine beautiful beaches, forests and country side is to encourage awareness on the national scale.

It is important to unify and include all the citizens with the knowledge that each and every one of us has the right to enjoy the picnic places and the natural beauty and we also have the responsibility towards it, for the sake of ourselves, our children, our health, our country and our planet in its entirety.

With this goal in mind and with the enthusiasm of both ŞİKAD (Şile Women’s Association) and Eco Istanbul / Çevreci İstanbul we held a Clean Up event at the seaside in Şile. TEMA held a sister event in Ayvalik, other events include St Michel High School on Heybeliada, Eco Kalkan on Patara beach and many more have happened and are planned. The aim in Şile was to attract attention and to create the kind of fun, family atmosphere that will teach by setting example, also to ensure a cross section of attendees from the locals and the surrounding villages, Istanbul residents and members of the foreign community.

By raising awareness and being active in collecting the litter we assist the Municipality and staff, citizens and authorities that are fighting the litter battle. Our long term intention is to create a sense of unity and collaboration between all the groups involved and most importantly to remind us all of our deep connection with and reliance upon the health of our beautiful planet.

We had a great day and hope to have incited momentum through mentions in the local and national news.

The benefits and observations of the Clean Up were: - We had a chance to meet with others, chat, clean and to exchange ideas and enthusiasm. - We saw that the way to achieve progress is to work hard from the bottom up, to collaborate and to ensure continuity and the spread of our sense of ownership and responsibility. - We concluded that a potent social media campaign might help get more involved. - We note that foreigners seem to be more dedicated to the hard work involved in actually cleaning up. (Or we can say that locals seem almost unwilling except in rare instances to pick up "other" peoples rubbish) - We note that many who said they would attend did not and that the most obvious lack of attendance was from the local schools, university and community (other than members of our Women's Association) - We realise we need to nurture the growth of a positive and proactive attitude in our friends here in Turkey. - We see that many seem to be disconnected from nature and from other groups of people and we wonder how we can help forge healthy and meaningful connections. - We wonder how we can share the concept that 'when we look after nature we are investing in our future!'.

Our goals are to: - Create momentum by organizing more and synchronized Clean Ups. - Include others more successfully (especially local population!) - Active a successful social media movement (produce a mini film and help our slogans spread #MyClean Beach and #BenimTemiz Plajım) - As individuals or as groups: set the best possible positive example by collecting litter where ever we are and by posting photos of ourselves on Eco Istanbul or other platforms. - Donate to and support the CCCC (see my post re: Community Crockery and Cutlery Collection). - Collaborate and share ideas and knowledge with each other. - Commit to Less Waste or Zero Waste lifestyles.

I think we can find ways to each become examples of a new way of living and I look forward to working towards that with the wonderful people I met at our Clean Up. I was inspired by the motivation and existing efforts of new friends like Lucy Tooze (her blog link is below) and Skaidrite Dzene who is working hard within the Latvian community and beyond and many others I also noticed that since our event new relationships are blossoming between the participants and one even mentioned that his herniated back has recovered!


A final point that our Clean Up illuminated for us all and with the permission of and thanks to Jak who shows patience and positive attitude to what must be constant and not always welcome attention! As foreigners we are used to being noticed, often we are subjected to positive discrimination though sometimes not and in Jak's case the colour of her skin makes her extra special here. The ladies from the local villages who had kindly attended our Şile event and provided homemade snacks for us all insisted on having their photos taken with Jak. Many are not exposed to racial diversity and they are also not exposed to the kind of environmental practices that we have become used to. The kind of positive, patient and communicative attitude that Jak exhibited is exactly the kind that teaches, shares and connects people best. It is also worth noting that the curiosity and the hearts of local people are wide open and with this in mind we can make progress and collaborate.

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