You can tell a lot about a person from their trash. For instance, in my trash can right now you’ll find empty bottles of Coke Zero and an empty pizza box, which tells you that clearly my attempt to diet is failing. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find old lottery tickets and scribbled out notes for get-rich-quick ideas which says a lot about my current financial situation. (Judge me all you want, but you’re the one going through people’s garbage right now.) This photo series by photographer Aw Zinkie tells the stories of different people and their trash and gives you a glimpse of who they are.

The series is called Republic of Pulau Semakau, named for an island that is now Singapore’s only landfill. Pulau Semakau was once a beautiful destination with fresh air and clear water, but in 1999 it became the world’s first offshore landfill. These photos are meant to remind us that in part we’re all responsible for this mess.

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