Helen Whalen Cohen
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D.C. resident Patricia White has received 8 fines, totaling $2000 for not recycling old newspapers which she uses as cat litter. Ms. White told Fox News DC that she wanted to help the environment by shredding old newspapers and junk mail instead of buying cat litter from stores. Unfortunately for her, it is illegal to not recycle in DC, and she has incurred the Department of Public Works' wrath.

Dupont Circle resident Patricia White says she has been fined eight times for throwing homemade cat litter in her trash. The fines total $2,000. White says she shreds old newspaper and junk mail to use as cat litter. She believes she is helping the environment by reusing the paper and avoiding cat litter you will find in stores.

 

After being fined several times, White says she called the Department of Public Works inspector who issued the tickets. According to White, the inspector admitted to digging through trash looking for violations. White even appealed the violations in D.C. court. Judge Audrey Jenkins agreed with the inspector after White explained the situation. FOX 5 tried to reach Judge Jenkins, but her office has declined to comment.
So this is what it has come to in DC. Perhaps someone from the Department of Public Works should read Professor Don Boudreaux's 'I Recycle', and keep in mind how resourceful Ms. White's actions really are (and maybe reevaluate the wisdom of rooting through peoples trash to make sure they are cleaning according to their standards):
Consider a typical day.
 
After I awaken, I shower and dry myself with a towel that I’ve had for a few years. I use this towel day after day. I don’t discard it after one use. When it gets dirty, I toss it in the washing machine to clean it for further use. I recycle my towel.
 
Then I brew coffee and fix breakfast. Each day I use the same coffeemaker that I used the day before. I clean it after each use, recycling it for the next time. My wife and I drink the coffee from mugs that have been used many times in the past. (Actually, one set of our coffee mugs was handed down to us after my wife’s parents used them for several years.) We also eat our breakfasts using dishes and utensils that are recycled from countless past uses. After breakfast, we don’t throw our mugs, dishes, and utensils away; instead we put them in the dishwasher to be recycled for yet another use.
 
After breakfast, I dress myself in clothes that I’ve worn before and that I will wear again. My underwear, my pants, my shirt, my necktie, my belt, my coat, my shoes, my wristwatch, all are recycled from previous uses. And when I remove these clothes at day’s end, I’ll recycle them again, with the help of our automatic washer and dryer.
 
When my wife and I drive to work, we drive automobiles that we used the day before and that we’ll drive for the next few years. We don’t junk them after a single use. Instead, we recycle them, day in and day out.
 
The pots and pans that we use to prepare our meals, our toaster, our refrigerator, our television, our compact discs, our furniture, and, indeed, our house itself are all routinely recycled, use after use after use.
 
My family and I recycle a lot! And we’re not alone. Everyone recycles a lot.
Ms. White says that she will continue to fight the fines and keep throwing away her cat litter in the trash.
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Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.