Journalist digs through dumpsters to produce Turkey waste map

Journalist digs through dumpsters to produce Turkey waste map

İpek İzci – ISTANBUL
Journalist digs through dumpsters to produce Turkey waste map A Turkish journalist has begun a research project in which he collects and analyzes different kinds of waste thrown into dumpsters in various parts of Istanbul and İzmir in a bid to ultimately create Turkey’s first waste map.  

Communication sociology masters student Umut Yiğit, who is currently working for a magazine that takes a different approach to street culture, said the project was launched in the Çeşme district of İzmir, when Yiğit collected his first waste from a garbage dumpster. 

“First a police officer came. I was taking beer bottles out of the trash in Çeşme and I had my brother with me to take pictures for me. An office asked, ‘Hey guys, what are you doing?’ I said, ‘We are making neighborhood analyses through trash.’ They asked what that meant. I said, ‘We are writing a magazine article, making analyses of sociological consumer habits based on waste thrown into the trash,’” said Yiğit, adding that the officers first thought they were preparing Molotov cocktails with the beer bottles. 

Yiğit said the remains of eggs and bread were common to all neighborhoods, regardless of their socioeconomic characteristics, adding that some of the materials found in the trash could especially represent the characteristic of the area. He said that in the Moda area of Istanbul, he saw a number of whisky bottles, while he did not see any such bottles in the Bağcılar district of Istanbul. 

“In Bakırköy there are malt beer bottles in the garbage, while there are libido pills in Beşiktaş. I have never encountered condoms in Bağcılar. There are beans both in Bağcılar and in Balat, but Balat also throws out beans with meat,” said Yiğit. 

Yiğit also conducted research on the trash in the Küçük Armutlu and Etiler neighborhoods of Istanbul, two areas which are inhabited by families that have very divergent income levels despite being located very close to each other. 

“In Küçük Armutlu, the most common thing we encountered was onion skins. This shows that the people [of this neighborhood] cook at home. Some two-liter soda bottles also indicated that it is mostly families that live here or houses with high populations. Then we crossed from Küçük Armutlu to Etiler, and bottles of milk immediately turned into daily milk [bottles]. The cigarettes were not fake but were the most expensive brand,” said Yiğit, while adding that the dish-washing detergents in Etiler were the cheapest on the market.

“Whether you are rich or poor, the dish-washing detergents are something that guests do not see. Therefore, even rich people buy the cheap ones,” said Yiğit, also adding that in poor neighborhoods, foods and beverages were consumed out of larger cans or bags but that goods were consumed based on kilograms and liters in richer neighborhoods.

Some facts about waste in Turkey:

Turkish people throw out 1.4 billion Turkish Liras worth of bread every year
The average person in Istanbul throws away 1 kilogram of waste every day 
3.5 million tons of waste is thrown out around the world every day