It was a bitterly cold morning on Jan. 18, when I was at the China Recycling Facility depositing some plastics to be reused.

As I usually do, I had emptied the container onto the floor so I could more easily sort the different types of materials and get them into the proper containers. I was getting the job done, albeit a bit more slowly than usual due to the cold, when all of a sudden a young man in an orange coat knelt down beside me to lend a hand.

I realized that he was part of the crew from the Kennebec County Correctional Facility that often puts in time at the recycling facility.

As we worked, I made a comment about how recycling is kind of a pain, but one that is, in the long run, necessary and important.

He said that the people he usually saw recycling materials were older folks, like me, and, thus, it seemed that we are the only ones who appear to care for the environment and the future. Before I could answer him, he was off to help someone else.

Now, this exchange really made an impression on me. I have no idea what issues got this young man into trouble, but he seemed very literate and intelligent, and I only hope that he can get his life together and contribute to society.

His observation about the differences in age and involvement seem to indicate a sense of responsibility and awareness of the world around him, and I hope that there are more young people like that out there, ready to pitch in regardless of their status at the moment.

Bob Bennett, South China