Green China

Not rubbish

Updated: 2011-05-06 11:53

(China Daily European Weekly)

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Award-winning photographer Wang Jiuliang focusing on trash issues, hoping to enhance awareness

He is a photographer who has recorded some of the dirtiest places in China. But he is also an environmentalist who wants to reveal the truth about trash. Meet Wang Jiuliang, a 34-year-old gold award winner for Outstanding Artist of the Year at the 2009 Lianzhou International Photography Festival.

Instead of using his fame to make money, Wang spends his time documenting the garbage situation in China, which, in his opinion, is a more meaningful way to utilize his talent.

"I don't want the award to bring honor to myself. I would rather society realize the fact that we are living in a city surrounded by trash. I want to raise environmental awareness in every citizen's mind. That would be the best prize for my work."

Wang has mapped out and visited more than 400 landfills around Beijing since 2008.

The idea of photographing garbage started during a visit to his hometown of East China's Shandong province during the year of the Beijing Olympics. He found a river not as clear as it used to be, millions of plastic bags used for farm chemicals and pesticides dumped on the land. He realized the plastic bags and garbage would never disappear unless he and others took action.


Not rubbish
Photographer Wang Jiuliang says a concerted effort is needed to root out China's garbage problem. Zhang Tao / China Daily

Back in Beijing, while planning a photo shoot on consumer behavior in the city, he started locating and collecting information on landfills around the capital.

"The landfills are like a mirror; they reflect the high rate of expansion of the city," Wang says.

People see construction going on every day in Beijing and see the demolition of old buildings and the rising of new ones. But "what we don't see is the tons of construction rubbish and domestic garbage", he says.

To capture the reality of the city surrounded by garbage, Wang covered 7,500 kilometers on his motorbike and took photos of 13 large landfill sites, covering an area of more than 10 square kilometers in a two-year period.

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