The coastline and countryside of South West Turkey are beautiful but the human impact of rubbish can be seen everywhere.  So who’s to blame and what is being done?

The scenery of South West Turkey is breath taking and Mother Nature certainly spent considerable time to create the right mix of colours and features that are so pleasant on the eye.

The mix of the turquoise sea, lush green of the pine trees and the stark imposing back drop of the mountains takes the breath away – a real wow factor.

So why is it that so many people are just left thinking it’s just rubbish?

It’s because once you take your focus away from the wonderful back drop the closer picture is a different sight.

Rubbish, garbage, litter, waste; it doesn’t matter what you call it but it’s everywhere.

From the sea shore and the beaches, along the highways and byways, in every picnic site and beauty spot, along rivers and streams discarded plastic bottles, paper, tins, cans, bottles and plastic bags pollute the environment.

Even the beautiful public bays around Fethiye can be waste high in litter.

The recent photos from Valerie Forshaw below show the extent of the pollution accumulating on the popular Hillside Bays near Fethiye (top right and below) and have resulted in her writing a letter to the local council.


So Who’s to Blame?

Some of the litter comes from responsibly deposited rubbish put in bins but which is blown by the wind because of the poor design of the receptacles.

Some is deposited by fly tippers some who make a special effort to dump waste in some of the most beautiful spots.

But the biggest culprits, in our experience, are the large numbers of individuals who just litter without a second thought.

From the bus driver who throws his empty plastic coke bottle out of his vehicle to the families who leave the remains of their picnic packaging on the beach, the ‘oh that one little bit won’t make a difference’ prevails.

It seems that many people just don’t consider that their littering is part of the problem.

What’s Being Done?

A number or organisations from central government to environmental groups are working to fight the growing tide of litter.

Some of the work is proactive involving education and awareness whilst others are reactive such as cleaning up the litter.

The local council and the forestry commission has found one way to minimise littering on local beaches and coves is to charge an entrance fee or lease parts of the beaches for sun bed rental.

The operators of these beaches, keen to attract customers, keep the areas free from litter.

Contrast these areas with the free public beaches and you’ll see the difference.

The local council is considering making a charge for the remaining ‘free’ beaches in an effort to keep them clean.

Green Clean Team

Environmental groups are also carrying out important work to keep Turkey clean.

One national environmental group ‘Deniz TurMepa’ has 80 regional coordinators protecting the seas and the 8,333 km long coast line that stretches from Hopa to Iskenderun in Turkey.

The organisation holds a number of events each year to raise awareness and clean up the sea and shores of litter.

In September each year the organisation coordinates a Coastal Clean Up.

Last year the clean up took place at 28 coastal areas in Turkey including Gocek.

At the end of May this year the organisation and many volunteers took part in the ‘Clean-Up The Med’ campaign, an event that takes place in 21 countries that have coasts to the Mediterranean.

Gocek and Fethiye hosted beach and sea cleaning events as part of the campaign recovering tons of rubbish.

Where Next?

The long process of educating the nation is gaining momentum but, as we know from the ‘Keep Britain Tidy Campaign’ that has been running for 50 years, it takes time to get not only the message across but also to change habits and attitudes.

But shorter term solutions could be implemented to at least stop the litter blown by the wind from the communal bin points.

Solutions include:

– Better bin design (bins with lids) and surrounds,

– More bin capacity where excess waste of often dumped by full bins,

– Cleaning litter left around the bin locations,

– More bins placed in public places

Fly tippers should also be traced and prosecuted.

But you can do your bit too.

Next time you’re out why not take a small bag with you and fill it with litter. Your one bag may not seem much but you’ll be doing your bit to keep Turkey tidy.

Or, if you’re a bit creative, why not try your hand at ‘Rubbish Art’ and make a statement about litter.

Here’s an example of Rubbish Art we came across on a UK beach recently.


The bottles, ropes and other items were formed into an eye catching picture of a dead fish.

The message works in any language – pollute the sea and you’ll kill the fish!