Letters to the Editor

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Taking out the Trash

Chafic Haddad, above, foreground
By Mark Burnett

Fredericton - The Purple Violet Press
June 3, 2012

Chafic Haddad is a man on a mission.  Imagine Captain Planet in a t-shirt and blue jeans.

Residents of Fredericton have come to know him as that coffee cup guy.  Over the past six months, Haddad’s initiative to clean up the streets has garnered him local and national attention by media and politicians alike.

“Even today, the city is pitching in for burgers and hot dogs.  They’re actually really supportive”, Haddad said Sunday.  “Brad Woodside spoke at the first [event] last month.  They’re aware of the campaign and I think they like it.  Hopefully it will continue and we’ll get more involvement down the road.”

He has talked with teachers about organizing clean-up events at their schools but he stated that it doesn’t appear to be as popular of an idea as it was years ago.  He would like to see it happen again, possibly in conjunction with his project. 

“I started my coffee cup project in January and then it turned into, let’s get the community involved.  Let’s try to get a bunch of people together.  Then if they can bring their kids, all the better because that’s where it starts.  If we can inspire kids to see garbage as being a bad thing, maybe they’ll think to not throw their garbage everywhere too.”

Although the events have been focused primarily on the north side of Fredericton, Haddad plans to expand throughout the city.

“What I’d like to do is get people to take pictures of bad spots in the city, submit them to the Facebook site and then we could vote.  Hey, let’s focus on this area next month.  It doesn’t stop at just the community picking up the garbage, but identifying some spots that are really bad.”

Haddad identified two areas as troubled spots; the industrial park and the area surrounding Kent on Bishop Drive.  He has noticed construction materials throughout the woodlot and marsh on multiple occasions.

After his last event, he counted 150 bags of garbage that were collected throughout the day.  Of the 150 bags, 20 of those were coffee cups alone.  Haddad says he’s still sorting the coffee cups from the first event.  The majority of garbage he and his supporters have found has been fast food containers, chip bags and coffee cups.  

Both local and international businesses have been keen to help with Haddad’s initiative. Coffee chain, Tim Hortons, has supplied work gloves as well as Timbits and coffee.  Local micro-brewery, Picaroons, chipped in with free beverages during a previous event when a barbeque was held.  Haddad hopes that this interest will continue.

Haddad would like to organize events of this type every few months, although he would prefer to host it monthly.  He hopes that the word about his campaign will continue to spread as he encourages his supporters to bring along friends and family to help.

“Even if it’s five or ten people; obviously, the more people the better.”

You can join in the conversation by visiting the Discarded Comfort Facebook page at facebook.com/discardedcomfort or by using the Twitter hash tag, #cleanupfred.

Mark Burnett was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick and currently resides there with his wife and daughter.  He works in the social media industry and practices photography in his spare time.  If you know of a local event or group that you’d like to have featured here, please contact Mark to make it happen.  He can be reached by emailing mark@burnettphotos.ca.


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