People all over New York City are pushing shopping carts full of bottles, but why? Where are they going with all those cans?

In the Fall of 2015, CUP collaborated with teaching artist Leon Anthony James and Sean Haberman’s Global History Regents Prep class at the Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering in Bushwick, Brooklyn to find out more about the New York State Returnable Container Act, a.k.a. the Bottle Bill. This law was created to reduce litter and to encourage recycling, but how does it impact our communities?

To investigate, students created screenplays about the people known as “canners” who redeem 5 cents per bottle collected, then interviewed the co-founder and former canner of the Bushwick recycling center Sure We Can. They created this printed postcard to share what they discovered about the life of a bottle in their neighborhood.

Bottled Up debuted at the Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering, where students presented the postcard, discussed their creative process, and explained the impact of canning.

Get your own postcard here!

What People are Saying

CUP gave me the opportunity to learn about things that I never would have learned about in a typical classroom, like canners.” – Yahaira Rolon, student

“This project helped me think of the bigger picture. Projects like this open up people’s eyes to what’s really going on in their own neighborhood that not many people take the time to see.” – Dominic Tunstall, student

“One new skill I learned was how I can express my thoughts through drawing. The drawings we made can help people better understand the topic, especially for those who may not speak much English. It’s better for us and them.” – Deyanira Pinargote, student

Resources & Links

The Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering (AUPE) is a public school in Bushwick with an urban planning theme-based curriculum.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Cassie Ang, Ana Martinez de Luco, Matthew O’Neill, Jorge Sandoval


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist 
  • Leon Anthony James
  • Project Lead 
  • Jenn Anne Williams
  • Project Support
  • Christy Herbes
  • The Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering
  • Students
  • Destiny Alonso
  • Nadeen Ayala
  • Romona Berry
  • Jadea Campbell
  • Walter Chan Rodas
  • Jean Colon
  • Danielle Cousar
  • Jeffrey Cradle Bailey
  • Carla Diaz Matos
  • David Echevarria
  • Javier Estevez
  • Adriana Figueroa
  • Sherlise Garrett
  • Christopher Joaquin
  • Deandre Johnson
  • Javier Lopez
  • Jose Martinez
  • Brandon Mendez
  • Thomas Montero
  • Brandon Morales
  • Franklin Moreno
  • Janet Munoz
  • Ellis Perez
  • Deyanira Pinargote
  • Miguel Prudencio
  • Rosita Ramales
  • Keiaira Revis Greene
  • Juquan Robinson
  • Anthony Rodriguez
  • Yehaira Rolon
  • Wilmer Roman
  • Gilbert Sanchez
  • Ronny Sanchez Pena
  • Jay Len Sanders
  • Freylin Santos
  • Klever Toala Maisa
  • Dominic Tunstall
  • Robert Williams
  • Darleny Zapata Ortiz
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Sean Haberman