I had visitors this week: my Dutch friend Janet and her 11 year old daughter Eefke. When we walked down the road from my house to down-town Üsküdar for the first time, we saw a big plastic bottle hanging on a fence. I had some blue bottle caps in my bag, and I put them in the bottle. The rest of the week, we’ve been obsessed with caps.
Any tourist in Istanbul who pays attention to what is happening on the street instead of just focusing on tourist highlights, will sooner or later see them: empty ten litre water bottles hanging on fences, bridges, trees, just about everywhere all around the city. My neighbours have one too, at their front door. Inside the bottle are usually blue caps of empty water bottles. If you see it, you could have no clue whatsoever what that is about. So let me tell you.
The caps are collected by a recycling company. They turn them into plastic pallets that last for decades. Environmentally great, of course. But the ultimate great goal is that for every 150 kilograms of caps, somebody gets a wheelchair for free! I think it works like this, (but I didn’t check the details): people who need a wheelchair but have no money to buy one, can apply at the recycling company, and also people can collect these caps themselves and exchange them for a wheelchair if they manage to collect 150 kilos. (The comment section underneath is open to correct me if I’m wrong.)
Eefke just loved the idea. And we drank a lot of bottles of water, since it’s ridiculously hot and humid in Istanbul. We collected the caps and when we saw an empty bottle somewhere, Eefke ran to it and threw the caps in.
So, if you happen to be in Istanbul, now you know what to do with your bottle caps. Don’t throw them away screwed to your empty water bottle, but keep them and throw them into the empty receptacle bottles. So that when you’re running around in the city seeing as much of it as possible (the three of us didn’t do that, actually, we kept it nice and slow), you can make somebody else more mobile too!