"Doesn't it drive you crazy, coming from San Francisco to this?" another expat asked me recently after finding out about my environmental inclinations. And while it's true that recycling bins are few and far between, and organic foods not exactly the norm, in some ways, I've found it easier being green in Istanbul.
Laundry On The line
Despite knowing all about the benefits of line-drying, for example, I must confess that only my most delicate items ever found their way onto a clothesline in San Francisco. But in Turkey, where dryers are rare, I've found line-drying easy to get used to -- though it does require a bit more planning ahead, and an extra pair of sheets.
Ditto buying foods in season. Though the large supermarkets do carry some imported and out-of-season produce items, fruits and vegetables generally appear for a few weeks or months and then disappear again. When I started thinking about wintry foods like Brussels sprouts, I began to see them in the stores. The mandarin oranges this time of year are amazing, as were the strawberries that overflowed from every produce stand in the summer, but are scarce now. I've found myself thinking more about what I can cook with what's available.
Getting Around Town
As I did in San Francisco, I get around primarily on public transportation. Due to the price of gas, incredible congestion, and utter lack of parking in central Istanbul, hardly anyone I know has a car, so I don't even have to feel guilty about bumming a ride from time to time.
Though it was likely done for the economic, not environmental, benefit, my apartment building and almost every other one I've been in here has its hallway lights on a timer or motion sensor. (A cell phone's glow comes in handy on the occasion the timer times out before you get to your door.)
Not Going To Waste
And even though recycling per se is rare, by separating my cardboard, cans, and bottles and leaving them in a bag next to the trash bin, I know they'll be put to good use by the scavengers who still ply the streets. Being green may not be a popular lifestyle choice in Istanbul, but many of the facts of day-to-day life are surprisingly ecofriendly.
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