New Brunswick

Fredericton man starts coffee cup crusade

A Fredericton man will spend the next year taking photographs and collecting used coffee cups as a way to show how many are discarded every day.
Fredericton's John Pollack interviews Chafic Haddad about his plan to pick up discarded coffee cups in 2012 4:25

A Fredericton man is going to spend the next year collecting coffee cups around the city and taking photographs of the places he finds them.

Chafic Haddad has been taking photographs of discarded coffee cups for years, but now he is turning this habit into a new project.

"Yes, it is weird to pick up garbage, but at the same time, why is that weird? Why is it weird to want your city to look nice?" Haddad said in a documentary on his project.

"The aim of the project is just to open people’s eyes to how much garbage there is from coffee cups on a daily basis," he said. "It’s everywhere."

John Pollack, a Fredericton-based student at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, produced a four-minute documentary on Haddad's project.

Pollack said he wanted to create a film that would make people think.

"As a photographer, I admire that he is using the medium to really communicate something and to really send a message," he said.

Pollack said he isn't advocating that others follow Haddad's example, but he said it would be a measure of the film's impact if others did take up the cause of picking up abandoned coffee cups around New Brunswick communities.

"I was more interested in documenting what he is doing and telling the story," he said.

"If people are affected by my film and that makes them want to change some sort of behaviour then that is a measurement of success for the film."

Coffee cup concerns

Haddad said he's been bothered by all the discarded paper coffee cups he sees in his hometown of Fredericton.

"I don't understand that mentality where people think there's magic garbage fairies that go around picking up your coffee cups. That baffles me, it does."

So he decided to treat each one like a crime scene — a picture on his smartphone to document the location, along with its geographic coordinates, posted to his several social networking websites.

Then, he retrieves the evidence and saves it to see how many discarded coffee cups one person can pick up in one year.

He said he hopes his project will raise awareness of littering and may help the city plan where to place more wastebins.

"I'd like to work with the city or the mayor if possible, if he would talk to me about it, maybe even some local coffee shops, or even the McDonalds and Tim Horton's in town," Haddad said. "If we can come together and find an innovative solution to reducing the amount of coffee cup waste, that would be great. I would love to see that."

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