General Etiquette > general

Is There an Etiquette of Trash Cans?

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BG: Since my city passed an ordnance banning smoking within some-number-of-feet in front of public buildings, the ashtrays that used to stand outside my office building have been removed.  Some ignore the ban and choose to smoke near the buildings [[Not trying to start a smoking-ban debate! :)]]

For the past week, a gentleman has been disposing of his cigarette butts in the trash can that sits near the door of my office (which is actually a small computer lab, so is more "public space" than most offices).  I hadn't noticed until I came to open the office one day and was overwhelmed by the smell of stale cigarette.  The gentleman smokes hand-rolled cigarettes, and the smell of the tobacco is quite pungent.  I didn't realize he was the one who had left the cigarette until I noticed him pause in my doorway and toss another butt in the can.

On one hand, I appreciate the fact that he isn't simply throwing the butts on the ground, as many others do.  OTOH...they smell!

Is there an etiquette to trash cans?  Would I be out of line to request that he use another can (an outside can, that is).  Or is it decidedly Special Snowflake to try to dictate what people throw away!


Cigarette butts don't belong in trash can.  In fact it is a rather dangerous habit.  It isn't necessarily something that is your job to address though.   If it were me I'd probably move the trash can, assuming that I can.

Butts can ignite the contents of the garbage can.

I'd let building maintenance or property management know.  They can decide how to handle it. 

I've seen quite a few trash fires on campus because students dispose of butts where they please--fires in the ash trays, fires in trash cans, a fire in the bushes/wood chips next to the performing arts building (that could have injured people and caused severe property damage).

Notify someone--it's dangerous.

Honestly cigarette butts stink.  But he's probably immune to the odor and doesn't realize its an issue.  if you are friendly with him, I don't think it would be rude to ask him to use another trash can.  Just smile and be gracious and ask "Hey Bob, I don't mean to be a hassle but I've noticed you are throwing your cigarettte butts in the office trash.  Honestly I sit right here and I have to say, I can smell them.  would you mind using a less public or perhaps an outdoor trash can please?  Thanks!"

Now he might say no, if so, don't fight him.  Just sort of change topics and then bring it up with eh building maintenence staff or your boss, as it is a fire hazard and the smell is a business issue - I know if I had to endure the smell of a cigarette butt I'd be quite turned off as a customer.


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