'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

What A Load Of Old Rubbish!

There are moments when life presents us with revelations about ‘things’ so profound; so sublime that we think we must be the reincarnation of St John the Divine, or, at the very least bathing in his reflected glory!

Such was the case today! We had been told by a friend of an organisation based in Ayvalik called ‘Çöp (M)adam’ (they call themselves the ‘Rubbish or Garbage Ladies’). They operate out of tiny premises next door to a tea house in a back street of this town. You can get a load of background info from their website and blog; all in glorious, easy to understand English.

The principle upon which it is based is so simple, so profoundly common-sensical that it is hard to believe that it is not the norm across the length and breadth of our poor, struggling planet. In essence, they use rubbish – from pre-consumer industrial packaging, to discarded plastic bags, to empty raki bottles, to you name it and turn it into wonderfully classy, useful items from fashion jewellery to bags of every description. They employ around 40 women who have never been in salaried work who work from home to make the range of items in their catalogue.  There are shopping bags that have been crocheted from plastic bags! Evening bags made from bar-code stickers! Drinking glasses and vases made from raki bottles! Day bags made from old sacks and Lipton’s Teas packets! Cook’s aprons made from waste rags! The items are stunning; classy and very individual and very, very desirable!

As a concept it would be hard to improve on; rubbish is recycled into real, useful, everyday products that we need or like to have – women who are in desperate need of income find dignity and self-respect from engaging in useful employment with a fair return on their skill, effort and dedication. The impact on the rubbish that litters our environment is minimal, but the impact on the mindset of our society about rubbish/recycling and the principles behind re-use and re-thinking our use of plastics in particular cannot be over-stated. It is a brilliant project that has won recognition from all quarters and is deserving of support and dissemination of the underlying message. The products are pretty bloody wonderful, as well! Here’s a selection, as you browse through them, remember where they came from – they are nothing but somebody else’s rubbish:

crocheted plastic bags!
J rummaging
Our selection of goodies and gifts!
Alan Fenn, Ayvalik


51 thoughts on “What A Load Of Old Rubbish!

    1. . . when next you come up this way guys, dig them out – I guarantee there will be stuff you won’t be able to live without!!

  1. Boo-hoo! We were just in Ayvalik and missed this place. What a great project for so many reasons and their stuff looks so good. Thanks for putting us in the know.

    1. . . you’ll be back! They have several outlets selling their stuff in Istanbul but most likely at a premium – better to buy direct.

  2. Want, want, want. We’ve never been to Ayvalık but will definitely hunt this place out when we do go there. What a fabulous idea and like you said, so common sensical, it’s hard to believe it’s not happening everywhere. I love reading stories like this.

    1. spread the word about the project Julia – you have a large and loyal following and could make a real difference and they deserve all the success that can be generated.

  3. I have to say I’m rather impressed – stylish and useful (I’ve always been more style over use) and much better than all those terrible table lamps we made out empty bottles of Mateus Rose in our youth (admit it, you did too).

    1. so right, Jack! (style over use ;-D) As for the Mateus Rose – I was a bit more classy (or soused) and preferred Boodle’s Gin; it set the tone much better!

  4. Ah shucks, guys, this is a really great article on us that I will repost as soon as I hit that ‘send’ button! Thank you for your enthusiasm and support for our work1 I am now even more sorry that I missed you when you came in. . Now that you know where we are, please give me a heads up should you make it to this neck of the coast again. With winter coming up, hopefully we’ll have time to work on some more cool and useful trashy items to impress you and your followers with!
    Best to you both –

    1. Tara! The lady herself! Thank you for commenting and welcome to Archers. Our visit gave us such pleasure and we to are sorry to have missed you – next time! There are a number of friends who will now be dropping by whenever they visit the area and I’m certain they’ll want to support and cheer on the team.
      I’ve sent you an email separately. Do give your ladies a hug from us.

  5. Now if the tour buses took tourists to this place instead of gold and carpet centres, Turkey’ s image would be enhanced no end.

    1. . . on the button Annie – I think we bloggers can do a bit by spreading the word through our followers – what do you say?

  6. I agree with b2b. Take tourists here instead of the tacky shops. will email them asking if they want an interview Alan – you are right – word needs to spread

    1. . . it would be super for them if you did, Natalie. With the coverage of your blog and the ‘My’ network it could make a big difference – power to your elbow!

  7. Taracım, I am so happy to live so close to you, that you are my precious friend, and that you make my life loaded with old rubbish :)…lovely article, thank you Alan…

  8. I always amaze to creative people. They really expert in make anything include from people rubbish :). Çöp (M)adam may be the inspiring poeple for us to treasure our garbage goods as materials to make something 🙂

    1. Hi Rian! How nice that you are enjoying wandering back through the posts. You are right about this project being an inspiration – we really need to re-think our use of excess packaging and rubbish in general.

  9. I guess sometimes the old an old saying can be totally incorrect. This is definitely not “Garbage in, garbage out”. Great work helping to keep the environment clean.

  10. I’m really astound. Whom can ever thought that it came from rubbish? They are very creative. I can say that there is money from garbage.

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  12. Very clever idea indeed! These items are obviously expert craftsmanship, and this does bring forth the fact that there is way more that can be done with ‘rubbish’.

    Looking at the items above, wow! Just wow.

    Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. Hi Gerry, first off, welcome to Archers – hope to see you here often. The ‘Rubbish Ladies’ is a really brilliant concept on so many levels, especially social as it helps these often repressed women to build their self-confidence as well as make income.

    1. Hi Deb and welcome to Archers. Whilst I accept that there are many essential uses for plastics, it is the unessential, throw-away and heavily polluting use that is a major factor in destroying the world we all share.

  13. What a hart warming post. There are many groups or organizations like this in other parts of the world too. It brings to mind of a news story here lately of a group of kids from Africa that have created musical instruments from garbage and are now touring the usa as an orchestra. Love these things.

    1. Hi Don, welcome to Archers. You are right, this is a wonderful project that has done a lot to give dignify women and there place in the world.

  14. Hi Alan
    I have just shown my wife the end results and then her jaw dropped when I told her who made them and from what, what an industrious group of ladies, only they shoud change their names to something nicer. The recycling queens maybe.

    1. Hello and welcome to Archers! Çöp (M)adam is a play on words in Turkish and English – meant to imply that Rubbish is made by men and sorted by the ladies! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      1. Oh sorry pardon my ignorance, but so true , we men pollute and they ladies sort out the men, never a truer phrase was spoken

  15. Also I just realizes that what a great way to get some of that plastic of the streets and out of the land fill.

  16. Amazing! I once bought a purse in the Caribbean made out of musketeers wrappers or something like that, it looked very similar to the bags with metallic squares. I love this fashion recycling trend!

    1. G’day SV and welcome to Archers! This project is so much more than about style – it is mostly about giving women back their self-confidence, self-belief and independence.

  17. Amazing! I purchased a bag in the Caribbean created out of wrappers or some thing|some thing or wrappers that way, it seemed quite much like the totes with squares. really like this vogue recycling craze. This vogue recycling craze is loved by me!

  18. Wow, I just happened to come across this today and and even though it was written a while ago I must say it was a great article! It is truly amazing the items that can be manufactured using recycled goods, truly an inspiration!

    1. Hi Phyllis, welcome to Archers! The project this post is about is a pretty splendid one – the items made by the ladies are but a small part of the whole – perhaps the most important aspect is the lifting of their self-image and sense of worth.

  19. @Alan

    Completely agree, the biggest aspect would be raising their self esteem and confidence and giving them that extra boost to face the world.

  20. Holy wow! Those turned out beautiful! What a great message as well. One mans garbage is another mans treasure. Lets re-use and re-think before mindless tossing away our items. Awesome share!

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