World water crisis no joke: Turkish first lady

By Yildiz Nevin Gundogmus

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's first lady said Wednesday that people think it is a joke that one day we may run out of water and that they do not really understand why nature should not be destroyed.

Emine Erdogan told Recycling Industry Magazine that within 36 months with the Zero Waste Project, 234,244 kilograms (about 517 pounds) of recyclable waste was collected at the Presidential Complex while 25,572 kg (56,376 lbs) of greenhouse gas emissions were prevented and 850,476 kilowatt-hours of energy and 3,083 cubic meters of water were saved.

Noting that a changing mindset emerged in the world after the Industrial Revolution, Erdogan said that people consider themselves the master of nature and that this idea is reflected in all behaviors of production and consumption systems.

The first lady said children grow up without establishing a relationship with nature and therefore people do not understand why they should not be destroying nature.

"We do not think where the garbage goes to, or whether it is destroyed or not. When we do not feel deeply saddened over a dried lake or a forest that has been burned down, we can use plastic from plenty of sources. We can throw that plastic into the seas. Because nature's slow and painful death is happening somewhere far from us," she said.

Erdogan emphasized that in order to spread the environment-friendly life culture, people should create a sense of responsibility and that this was especially important for the education of children.

The first lady said that with the separation of 110,135 kg (242,806 lbs) of paper waste at its source, the protection of 1,872 adult trees that will meet the oxygen needs of 3,744 people was ensured.

"By separating 25,063 kg (55,254 lbs) of metal waste at the source and separating 32.58 tons of glass waste at its source, 39.58 tons of raw material was saved. By separating 66 kg (145 lbs) of plastic waste at its source, 1,076 barrels of oil was saved. By separating 15,370 kg (33,885 lbs) of waste vegetable oil at its source, 15,370 liters (4,060 gallons) of biodiesel were recovered," she said.

She stressed that surplus production took away people’s ability to repair things and drove them into laziness.

"We buy a new one rather than repair it. We do not think that we increase our carbon footprint with every new item we buy," she said.

In addition, Erdogan said that 2,720 liters (718 gallons) of water is consumed for the production of one cotton T-shirt and noted that the textile sector is one of the sectors that pollute the environment the most.

– Plastics enter food chain

Pointing out that the seas and oceans have turned into garbage dumps of the world, she said plastics that are thrown into the sea enter the food chain. She also pointed to the unnecessary use of washing machines where sometimes one piece of clothing is washed.

"We do not think about how microplastics which break off from those clothes and mix into the water pollute the water. Here we are in a total mobilization against all these dangers. With the sea cleaning campaign we initiated throughout the country, 122,193 cubic meters of marine litter was collected," she said.

She also said that 760 leading organizations pledged to fight pollution of the seas by participating in the Zero Waste Blue project.

*Writing by Dilara Hamit