A Life Without Trash

Years ago when I was a mere child, the garbage men held a large strike (some of you may remember this). I think it was during the summer. Trash that had not been picked up for a long time and all its dangers had become the main story of many news outlets. And so a ‘life without trash,’ reminds me of a caricature that was published in Leman magazine (if I’m not mistaken) during this exact period: A woman looking out over the neighborhood from her window, where mountains of trash have accumulated before every doorstep, points to them and complains to her husband, “during this whole time we couldn’t manage to even put out a bag of trash, we’ve disgraced ourselves to the whole neighborhood with our poverty.”

There’s one thing the woman in the caricature is right about: our trash is like evidence of our lifestyles. We eat, drink, buy, spend, finish, and consume. Our trash represents our wishes, whims, and interests. We have trash because we’re free to throw away what we don’t need. The trash is not only a simple bag, plastic bin, or elegant stainless steel can, but our freedom to choose. As long as we can get rid of it, we don’t care about where it goes.

After having watched a TED talk recommended to me by a friend, I spent a while reading about the same subject: living without producing any trash. At first it seems impossible but if you read what’s been written, and have at least a bit of an interest, being convinced and thinking ‘why not?’ is a matter of time. It’s impossible to start a new life where no waste is produced immediately, but it’s possible to make a difference starting today. Activist and entrepreneur Lauren Singer offers us a practical road map where she shares simple but effective beginner steps. And so I wanted to share and expand two of the most important steps that really caught my attention:

*We start by analyzing our trash: What do we throw away, how often, and how much

This step is to make us aware of how many packaged foods and clothes as well as cleaning and beauty products we purchase. By taking a closer look at our trash, we realize how much money we spend on things that we could have bought without packaging from the market or (when possible) directly from the manufacturer. Instead of going to the supermarket every day, we can visit the many neighborhood markets once a week to fill our tote bags with fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and breakfast items. As for the cleaning and beauty products, a lot of them can be made easily at home, rather than being purchased.

*Then we focus the analysis on ourselves: Why do we want a life that produces less waste

Like every issue, we also need some solid motivation in order to take persistent steps in terms of our waste problem. Some of us worry about harmful chemicals, removing petrol/plastic from our lives, and investing in our health. For others it’s about making a positive change and becoming a good role model in terms of environmental protection. Whatever our aim, the mutual gain of producing less waste is living in a cleaner world with a much smaller mass of plastic bags and packaging. We feel comfortable and safe about the ingredients of everything that enters our lives and digestive organs, and makes contact with our bodies.

So, perhaps ‘living without any trash,’ is a pretty bold claim, but if ‘living with less trash’ catches your interest, then you can check out the websites below. Every subject has so many alternatives, that our excuses are actually quite unsound.





There are also just as many local online examples of long term experimentation with a life without trash, as there are foreign. With a simple online search, you can find a lot of Turkish sites with many recommendations and tips. But turning all this advice into our own reality is up to us.

To wealthy desires and impoverished trash!



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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