Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), a state-run religious body, has joined the zero waste campaign, originally launched by first lady Emine Erdoğan.
DİB President Ali Erbaş joined the first lady in capital Ankara yesterday to promote the campaign. As part of the campaign, the DİB will adopt recycling practices in its buildings and will inform the public about the environmental protection program through its officials.
Speaking at the event, Emine Erdoğan said Turkey may lead the Muslim world in the campaign by issuing manifestos on zero waste, sustainability and "a green hajj," the annual Muslim pilgrimage, where millions from around the world travel to Saudi Arabia to visit Islam's holiest sites. "Our relation with nature is a matter of morals and in Islam, protecting the environment, living a modest life without wasting food etc. is a precondition to being a Muslim," Erdoğan said. "Humans are described as most honorable of Allah's creations but we mistake it as being a dominant force over nature. We are part of nature, not its master. We have to heed the rights of nature too. It is the right of a tree to get watered and right of water not to be polluted," she said.
"Muslims should look beyond waste and should be aware that it is more than our personal consumption. For instance, discarding 1 kilogram bread means the waste of 1.6 liters of water used in its production. We are not only responsible for what we waste. We have to understand that our haphazard use of water, for example, can affect access to water for African children dying of diseases because of lack of clean water," she said. "Muslims should revert to a refined Muslim mind. This beautiful religion is the most fervent advocate of environmental protection. Unfortunately, we see pilgrims leaving behind more than 100 million plastic bottles after hajj," she added. The first lady called to raise awareness to what Prophet Muhammad did to respect nature and animals.
Emine Erdoğan launched the "Zero Waste" project two years ago and today, some 14,000 public institutions, from the presidential complex to ministries and their branches, are integrated into the project which covers recycling of waste, sorting the waste at its source and recycling food waste to compost.
The drive saved more than 30 million trees between 2017 and 2018, with the recycling of more than 1.7 million tons of paper waste and cartons. The project also seeks to spread the use of compost-making equipment to convert food waste into compost.