NANTOU COUNTY (AFP) – A couple decked out in a tux and gown embrace in front of a mountain of trash in an unorthodox wedding photo – one the environment-conscious bride hopes will discourage her guests from generating unnecesary garbage.
Greenpeace campaigner Iris Hsueh and her fiance are having their “environmentally friendly wedding” in January, and have asked guests to bring their own containers for taking home leftovers.
Deciding that showing – not telling – was a more effective communication method, the couple travelled three hours south for a photo shoot in Nantou county’s Puli township, where the amount of trash brought to a local dump has steadily risen over the years.
“If any guests are not willing to bring along a container, I would show them the photograph and say, ‘Would you reconsider?'” the 33-year-old told AFP, adding that the photos ended up drawing local media attention.
“I didn’t think it would create such a big sensation.”
Taiwan has had a recycling programme since 1987, with over 50 per cent of household trash processed through the system – among the highest rates in the world.
But Puli township’s sanitation crew chief Chen Chun-hung said the amount of garbage there has mushroomed – back in the 1980s, it was about 20 tonnes a day; now, its about 50.
“Our population is actually decreasing, but the amount of garbage is increasing every year,” he told AFP.
The Puli dumpsite was initially a parking lot for garbage trucks, and using it as a waste storage site was supposed to be “temporary”, he said, but it has now been functioning for three years.
“Two years ago, it was (five to six stories) high and the smell was even worse. It became unbearable to work here,” Chen said, adding that he thought the couple’s actions were “meaningful”.
“The young are very creative compared to us older folks.”
Since their photos went viral, Hsueh said her friends and relatives had promised to rethink how much waste they created in their daily lives.
But she is just happy about the conversation her photos have started.
“If possible, we should bring our own reusable utensils, mugs and containers. Cut down on your consumption and avoid single-use plastics.”
And for the big day? “I hope to see everyone with a container on my wedding day,” Hsueh said with an impish grin.