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What is çöp(m)adam?

In the ten minutes it takes to read this entry, 5.000.000 tons of waste will be produced worldwide. When it comes to reducing environment impacts, nothing is more important to us than growing and living sustainably with our planet.

When revamping its corporate social responsibility efforts, Unilever Turkey was pleased to learn that they can contribute to a community-based project that would allow the company and the university to address current social needs of Turkey ranging from waste reduction to women empowerment. Carefully researched to identify gaps in the marketplace and provide meaningful solutions to critical issues while simultaneously aligning with both sponsors’s business and sustainability objectives, çöp(m)adam together with Unilever Turkey joined forces in the last two years in order to contribute more effectively to our planet.

Questioning what is worth saving or not, çöp(m)adam started as an experimental project in Western Turkey addressing the issues of women’s employment and the importance of recycling/re-using; and aims to utilize waste in a creative, aesthetically and unique way. Unilever Turkey got into the picture as the “Main Sponsor”, committed itself by sharing its waste and PR services. The result; çöp(m)adam, the newest fashion trend in handbags, are sweeping Turkey and putting shopper’s money towards a good cause. A cause that in one hand touches the issue of women empowerment, on the other waste reduction. Made entirely out of wrappers, a group of Turkish women have created a one-of a kind accessory that puts glamour into recycled goods. Made especially for ladies, these trendy bags give flavour to fashion, support the enhancement of awareness on environment.

“çöp” means “garbage” in Turkish; “madam”, the same as the French word indicates. “çöp(m)adam” (Garbage Ladies) is symbolic of this meaning – taking garbage and turning it into something fashionable and fun; even though it sounds weird.

Caring for women

The Garbage Ladies of Turkey (selected among women who have never earned a living in their lifetimes; in Turkey 3 out of 4 ladies are unemployed) found an opportunity in the tons of trash hitting landfills every day. These women transform this ‘trash’ into a collection of eco-chic handbags for the fashion forward female, and create a living for themselves out of it.

Caring for the environment

In a world in which everyday is characterized by excesses, waste and pollution, Çöp(m)adam sets out to demonstrate that there is another way. Hardly anything is thrown away. We seek our inspiration from waste and left-over materials. Our designs just go to show that recycling really does not need to be boring. People are often amazed to hear that raw materials used in our products are normally packaging of icecream, soup etc. products they use daily in their lives. For this reason we are continually on the look out for new opportunities to find a new use for waste materials.

Here comes Çöp(m)adam…

With very limited small start-up capital and the assistance of sponsors, a small group of women in the Western part of Turkey joined this initiative. Today, the project that turned out to be a business has two workshops extending to the large Turkish geography, with, so far more than 500 women; currently 70 women, contributing on the project. More than 20 tons of waste material are being re-used in the past two years, thousands of handbags are being produced and took their places in the wardrobes. Products of Çöp(m)adam are being sold in a number of shops all in big capitals as well as all around Turkey through online shopping websites.

Çöp(m)adam products are anything but basic and are available in a rainbow of colours and various shapes and sizes. Their stylish flair makes for the perfect accessory while paying tribute to the sprit of giving to a good cause.

And we are..

taraTara Hopkins

has worked, voluntarily and professionally, in civil society since she was a teenager. Academically, she studied anthropology and languages, but her main interests have always been greater equality and empowerment from a grass-roots level. She was fortunate to be able to establish the first program for civic participation at the university level in Turkey, as well as initiate the Ashoka program as the first country representative. She has taken her idealism to a different level now, down to the trash can, at long last acknowledging that some things cannot completely change but they can be modified.