Thursday, 1 April 2010

Recycling..a way of life

I've mentioned before that the Turks are pretty good on recycling...they rarely throw anything away.  It's become a habit with me too.  I feel quite embarrassed to think about all the stuff I would just throw away when I lived in England...things that I would put to good use here.

My English friends L and A from Antalya, who stayed with me at Christmas are much the same.   You may remember L kindly fitted an electric shower for me when they were here, so that I wouldn't have to suffer cold showers throughout the winter. It was a second-hand unit which had originally been installed in their uncle's apartment, who moved back to the UK, and L reclaimed the unit and passed it on to me.   At the same time, L had accumulated a lot of spare tiles.   These he brought with him and used in my bathroom.  The wall was already tiled up to half-way, the spare tiles were different but complimented the existing ones, so he fitted them.  We still have the remainder of the wall to tile, and we're on the lookout for some more spare tiles to finish the job.

Old planks of wood were used to build the dog house at the front of the old house in the garden, and some old chickenwire has been fitted to the main gate to stop Poppy from squeezing through.

Recently I found an old, dirty plastic vegetable rack in the old house, which I dismantled and cleaned up.  One of my kitchen cupboards has very deep shelves, so to provide more storage space for dried goods, herbs and spices etc, I inserted the sections of the old vegetable rack which now give double the space for jars and pots.

We have a really nice small round wooden coffee table, with a circular piece of glass in the centre.  This was once a table, covered in several layers of paint, and without glass, which I picked up for almost nothing in a junk shop.  I stripped off the paint, and varnished it...bought a new piece of glass and voila!  Unfortunately, last week, Poppy, perching as usual on the back of the sofa, looking out of the window, got excited at the sheep passing up the lane...and fell on to the table, breaking the glass.  Fortunately she was unharmed, but we need to replace the glass...which is very cheap here.

You will remember that Mr Ayak split the kitchen table last week.  It was a round wooden table with two drop leaves, and legs that pulled out to support them.  It was one of the leaves that was split, and one of the pull-out legs was warped.  So I have removed the two leaves and the pull-out legs, and this has left me with a lovely console table which now sits just inside the front door.  The undamaged leaf, fits perfectly underneath and provides a shelf.  On top is a large old clay pot...also recovered from the back of the old house, cleaned up which now contains some cuttings from a neighbour's plant.  It all looks so nice that I'm actually quite pleased the table was damaged!   The kitchen table has been replaced by an old round table which was on the terrace...slightly damaged...but a table cloth hides it.   And the terrace table has been replaced by another old table, discovered after a good rummage in the old house, cleaned up and covered with a table cloth.

We have old stools, which when covered with some colourful Turkish cushion covers, provide bedside tables.  These lovely cushion covers have been collected by me over the years, and some of them are now on the walls of the spare bedroom and they really brighten up the room.

If we can't recycle, we either sell or pass on goods to others in need.  Old clothes are always welcome by poorer families, but some are too proud to accept them directly, so it's normal practise to wrap them well in plastic bags and leave them next to the rubbish bins.  You can be sure that they will be gone by the next morning and someone will have put them to good use.  The sort of old shoes that most of us would throw away can be totally transformed, very cheaply, by the cobblers in Turkey.  They will sole and heel them, polish them or dye them if necessary, at a fraction of what it would cost to buy a new pair.

Clothes that don't quite fit, or need repairs, can be altered or repaired beautifully by the many tailors dotted about...usually for a few lira, so there's hardly ever the need to buy new ones.

So to generate some money for petrol and food to get us through the coming weeks, we had a bit of a sort out yesterday, and found a few electrical items that we don't use or need, which Mr A sold to the second-hand shop in Milas.

There's a great deal of satisfaction to be had from re-cycling, re-using and repairing.  I find these days that I get much more pleasure from this than from buying something new.


  1. When you think about it Ayak, we have so much stuff, how many unused " gifts " do we have in the cupboard, or how many new electrical gadget do we buy, only for them to end up in the same cupboard, mine are chock a block with items like this, we all have too much, and to live the way you do, is quite wonderful.

    You appreciate, recycle, sell what you don't need, what do we do, fill our cupboards up, then buy more.

  2. I have a couple of handmade quilts made of cloth from cast-off material. There were prints of children's shirts and bed sheets and bits of a dress here and there. All would be sewn together in an elaborate and beautiful design. In the early days of the last century, it was a social thing for all the women to get together and work on a quilt.

    My grandmother collected large boxes of quilt scraps and sort them by color. They didn't throw anything away if there was the slightest chance of being able to use it later. Of course when the age of gluttony came, my grandmothers and my mother's homes became filled with cheap garbage and rubbish that she had never thrown away.

    My devious sister on the day after my grandmother's funereal managed to manipulate my grieving grandfather into giving about 20 quilts. I made a fuss and got.. two of them and they were both unfinished. My sister told everybody they would be great investments. I don't think any of them have seen the light of day since she brought them home.

    Do you do any home canning? I used to laugh at my mother and dad when I was a smart-ass teenager because they would can all the garden produce. It seemed like a silly thing to do since it was cheaper to buy it. But children of the Depression learned a lot of lessons about surviving and security.

  3. Ann: It's a good habit to get into, and one I enjoy. Every time I go to England I am even more shocked at the stuff that people waste.

    Nomad: I love the sound of the quilts...what a shame they are not being used or on display...they should be

    I do make jam and chutney..and I pickle onions and small cucumbers when they are cheap in the market. Last year we had so many figs and my first attempt at fig jam was a success. We were once given about 10 huge crates of peaches, which of course wouldn't last too long, so these were turned into jam and also peach puree which I put in the freezer. We have fruit trees in the garden so the produce will be preserved this year, but as yet we haven't planted that's the next thing on the list.

  4. I am waiting for some furniture from my aunt and uncle that will arrive today.

    My cousin having sorted through things kept back the good stuff and was going to toss it out as it was of no particular style or in no great condition. I'm taking it for the sentimental value as much as for the recycling of it all.

    And the beauty is that I plan on recycling it yet again when I die and leave it to my children!!


  5. People here don't like to admit they like recycling, but I noticed when a builders skip was left at the end of our road people threw away loads of so called junk.
    We threw in a broken coffee maker, toaster and other bits and pieces. We found a petrol lawn mower which my husband replaced some parts and got it working again.
    The next day the coffee maker and toaster had gone...

  6. That's nice Jes. Sometimes the sentimental value far outweighs the quality or condition of something doesn't it?

    Anyway, I don't know about you, but I love old doesn't have to necessarily be antique...but I love the natural patina that comes with some old things...and the memories.

  7. Monalisa: It just goes to show that some peoples' trash is other peoples' treasure. Well done your husband for repairing the lawn mower.

  8. I enjoyed reading this post immensely. The way everyone recycles and repairs there clothes, shoes, and everything else is as it should be. I love hearing about your village life and how it operates.

  9. Thankyou Mr H. I love the whole re-cycling/re-using thing and could have written loads more, but thought it may get a bit boring. I would say that almost every day I find something to re-use/adapt or re-cycle.

  10. Well I can still learn a lot from you Heiko...I consider you the expert on re-cycling.

  11. I'm very much into this kind of recycling. Brilliant!

    Nuts in May

  12. Yes it can be very satisfying Maggie..and of course saves loads of money!

  13. Ayak, I agree that as a general culture Turks are great about reusing many things. Using plastic bags from the pazaar instead of buying new ones. There is always a less prosperous family for things to go to... but...

    That written as disposables and packaged foods unfortunately become more common people don't seem to use the new recycling bins that have started to pop up around some cities-always full of trash instead. I would save my "recyclables" and haul then into town to recycle at the migros. My in-laws thought I was crazy. Also plastic bag usage is out of control. I try to reuse my bag at the grocery and pazaar and again get very confused looks as to why in the world I would do that.

    I think reusing/recycling is mainly done out of necessity here as opposed to understanding why one might choose to do it. Also it is widely common to litter out the window or leave the garbage behind from a picnic. I am often saddened when walk on very remote beaches and see loads of litter, especially plastic strewn about.

    In general much less wasteful then our countries but in our countries people are talking more about our human effects on the environment and I hope to hear more talking about it here...

  14. Emily..yes you're absolutely right...recycling out of necessity rather than the thought behind it. But I do like the fact that nbothing is wasted. We haven't seen recycling bins around this way...I only managed to get a rubbish bin a few months ago! No doubt we will see them eventually, but it will take a while to get the Turks to realise what they are intended for. I also dislike the way people leave their litter behind, but I have to say that this particular problem doesn't seem anywhere near as bad as it was when I first came to Turkey. It all takes time..getting the message across about recycling...but it shouldn't be too difficult for the Turks to grasp as I feel that they are half-way there already.


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