PULI, TAIWAN — While most couples immortalise their matrimony in wedding photos taken at picturesque locations, one Taiwanese couple made the unlikely choice of posing with a mountain of garbage to commemorate their union.
The photos were first shared on Facebook on Saturday (Oct 14) by a leader of the local waste management team who expressed his surprise when his team chanced upon the couple’s ongoing photography session in front of the garbage dump.
Taken in Puli Township in Nantou County, the photos showed the elegantly-dressed couple posing at the gates of the dump with a mountain of rubbish merely metres away as a backdrop.
Several other photos showed the extent of the trash pile, with an excavator perched near the peak rivalling the height of neighbouring buildings.
In a separate Facebook post, the bride, Ms Iris Hsueh, provided some insight into their unconventional decision of taking photos with trash.
She explains that they wanted to raise awareness of the waste disposal issue in Taiwan and hoped that others in the community would use her photos as inspiration to reduce the amount of waste generated.
Describing how local media outlets quickly picked up on the story, she quotes a question from a reporter who asked her how she was aware of the garbage disposal issues despite not living in the immediate area.
In response, Ms Hsueh explains that waste disposal issues were not localised to a county, but rather a problem for “every county and city” in Taiwan.
“I live in Taiwan and have been watching the trash issue for years. Assuming that your own garbage is not poured out and piled up, would you not know?” she writes.
Ms Hsueh’s worries are not unfounded, with several media outlets reporting on the issue, such as a video posted by TVBS World Taiwan in July showing “9,000 tonnes” of trash piling up at a location due to a lack of local incinerators, resulting in the waste being exported out of Puli Township to other counties for disposal.
Workers at the waste management offices in Puli Township also have to contend with the heavy stench of the “garbage mountain” next to their workplace, reports Taiwan newspaper United Daily News.
Despite the situation’s grim outlook, Ms Hsueh livens the mood by inviting “everyone” to register and attend their eco-friendly wedding happening on January 20 next year, where they will serve vegetarian dishes and even clean up the beach after the ceremony.
The original post by the local waste management team leader showing the couple’s wedding shoot quickly went viral, garnering more than 1,100 likes and 129 comments as of Wednesday.
Many netizens congratulated the couple and lauded their green intentions, while others poked light-hearted fun at the unconventional choice.
One Facebook user wrote: “(What an) amazing couple to have (made) such (a) move to change our culture! Love this!”
Another user quipped: “This way, your husband will always smell better throughout your married days.”
The same local waste management team leader expressed his gratitude for the couple’s bold move in a follow-up Facebook post, writing: “If everyone had the same ideas as this couple, then Taiwan’s garbage problem wouldn’t be so big.”
“We need to think about the consequences of unchecked waste generation that will be borne by future generations.”
Others found meaning in the stark contrast of waste and weddings, with one user writing: “When standing in front of the trash mountain, it’s more apparent that they are each other’s treasure.”
However, some were sceptical of the stunt, with several comments labelling the couple as “disgraceful” and “social justice warriors”.
These were quickly refuted by other commenters, however, who jumped to the couple’s defence, with one user replying: “Like that’s a bad thing? At least they are setting a good example by planning their wedding to be eco-friendly and vegetarian and even encouraging their guests to bring their own reusable utensils.”