Once again, today I struck up a conversation with a young smoker.

I was sitting outside at the Apple Box waiting for a rain shower that never came. A young man, his name is Joshua, lit up a cigarette as he walked across the deck and sat down on the sidewalk near the river bank to enjoy his smoke. As he walked past, he turned to me and said hello.

If he hadn’t said hello, I might not have spoken to him at all. But based on our friendly exchange, I decided that when he finished his smoke, if an opportunity arose, I would talk to him about discarding cigarette butts properly. This of course was based on my assumption that he would toss the butt into the street or down the embankment.

To my very pleasant surprise, Joshua didn’t live up to my expectations (perhaps there is a lesson there for me). After he finished his smoke, he put the butt out and carried it back with him.

Fortunately, he walked past near enough me for me to speak to him. I thanked him for not tossing his butt into the street; that started a positive conversation. It was during our conversation that he told me about the butts can pictured here.

We discussed the negative impact that billions of cigarette butts have on the environment and I asked him to ask his fellow smokers not to discard cigarette butts by throwing them into the street. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t understand why smokers do that.

After we finished talking, we introduced ourselves and said goodbye.

This is one example of how two groups, who apparently have nothing in common, actually do. This is one example of how, by communicating, it is possible for groups on opposite sides of an issue to find common ground and work together to solve a problem.

The butts can pictured here is a small work of art. It sits on the ground at the end of H street by the Petaluma River. A tip of the hat to the creative person who took the time to paint the can and place it by the river at a popular smoking spot. What a great example of someone doing something to make the world a better place!