Go green!

Go green!

AYLİN ÖNEY TAN - aylinoneytan@yahoo.com
Go green Go green! This could be the slogan of the coming year. Listening to Uğur Bayar, chairman of WWF in Turkey, I finally saw a dim ray of hope about the bleak future of the environment in Turkey. The year 2015 might be the year to begin going greener. As he stood up speaking at La Mancha Restaurant for the launch of the new movement of sustainable restaurants, named “Green Generation Restaurants” (Yeşil Nesil Restoran Hareketi), he was flanked with half square meter transparent Plexiglas tanks that towered like weird columns, as if brought in from an art biennale. The “biennalesque” installations were actually heaps of rubbish, a day’s litter from a mid-sized restaurant. 

One huge tank was filled with empty wine bottles; a day’s worth of imbibing; the other, with unused vegetable parts, looking still edible, or usable in a soup or vegetable stock. The daily waste numbers are shocking; if not conscience scratching; wrenching out all the joy and pleasure of dining out. As we need to get more ethical about environmental issues, we have to re-consider our very own consumption habits. Even dining out can be a part of this. The new Green Restaurants Movement that has recently been initiated in Istanbul has an interesting timing and kick-off.  Just as the New Year’s über-consumerism craze is taking over, the movement was started by the most chic and trendy venues in town; normally places frequented by the privileged few, normally expected not to give a damn about their expenditures and wastefulness. This alone, is hope for the change in the state of mind.

The sustainable or “green” restaurants project is developed by the World Wild Life Foundation, WWF-Turkey and Boğaziçi University; with the partnership of TURYID (Turkish Restaurants Association) and Beşiktaş Municipality; supported by Unilever Food solutions. Waste management and consumer consciousness are the core concepts of this movement, encouraging both the restaurant and its customers taking equal responsibility in changing the approach in consumption patterns. Eating out in Turkey grows in number every day with 77,000 restaurants, serving millions of meals every single day.

Every year the wasted food generated by restaurants and eateries alone in Turkey sums up to 325,000 tons. It is not only the food that goes wasted, but energy and water consumption is also at alarming numbers, not to mention the mountains of unnecessary packaging. This is surely not the way to go; not sustainable for our ever-expanding cities, practically eating up the environment. The new movement aims at changing this downfall depression by using local and seasonal produce with lower footprints; consuming less energy and water; recycling as much as possible; and transforming waste to fertilizers for sustainable agriculture.  The dining clientele has to take their share in contributing to the movement. As Fikret Adaman, advisor to the BOU Rector, puts it: “Even refusing an unnecessary change of clean plates can save up to 15 tons of water.” Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar says six tons of fertilizers will be produced from the restaurant wastes alone, and this will also prevent tons of carbon dioxide emission generated by the wastes. 

Earlier this month, Hürriyet Daily News columnist Gila Benmayor reported from Milan about the BCFN-Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition forum; stating the importance of the “Milan Protocol,” inspired by the Kyoto Protocol. Benmayor stressed the protocol’s three essential objectives: reducing half the world food waste by 2020; promoting sustainable agriculture; and promoting healthy lifestyles. Italy seems to be keen to take the lead in this green movement; the theme of the Milan Expo 2015 is determined as “Feeding the Planet-Energy for Life.” Turkey, formerly having declined in taking part in the Milan EXPO, decided to join in at the last moment. Unfortunately, there is very little time left to get organized for the world’s most important fair, which starts at May 1st; Turkey’s participation will greatly depend on such individual efforts, but there is now at least one project to put on the table at Milan: Green restaurants! Hopefully, there will be more time for the World Botanic EXPO 2016, which will be held in Antalya next year.

Bite of the week

Fork of the Week: Any bite you’ll taste in those pioneer places will taste greener: La Mancha, Frankie, Sunset, Fenix, Tom’s Kitchen and Kanyon Kitchenette have received their certificates as Istanbul’s first green restaurants. In a year from now, we hope to list at least a 100 more venues, as targeted by the project.

Cork of the Week: It is not the content, but the bottle that counts this week. Every single bottle in green restaurants are either recycled or transformed into light shades, water glasses, candleholders, you name it. Be sure to drink responsibly this New Year’s Eve, it does not matter how much you consume; prefer to go for local brands; be sure to transform your bottles into something useful and not litter the environment.