Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time
The light filtering through the leaves of this tree.

April 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m sitting this morning in a hotel room in the middle of the desert. For various reasons, I’m sitting living my life as a wife – as Mrs. Mr. Plastic Picker. I am appreciating the depths of a particular childhood friendship that started in New Jersey during the angst of adolescence and has endured. It’s a comfortable coming together of two couples who have known each other over decades.

But as four outwardly uber-successful adults having dinner and catching up on years of family and children and professional news, I am reminded that each of us needs to decide what we do with the outward trappings of wealth and power and privilege. How will we decide to leave our impact on the world? How does one find meaning in life? Even with close friends with similar political leanings, we each have a great ability to enact change. And unfortunately with positions and influence, we have more ability than others.

I’m always tempted with the siren call of FIRE, Financial Independence Retire Early. We could FIRE now. But retire into what? Into a world slowly descending into climatic catastrophy? This is why I talk about FISE, Financial Independence Save the Earth. We have made strides toward #fightfor1point5 for sure, but we have at least another decade of action to catch up. Time is of the essence. So with that, I am also reminded to those that much is given, much is expected.

So I will continue on my path, and enjoy our friends at the same time. It is not mutually exclusive. And I am reminded that the sense of connection and community, is one of the most important ways to fight for climate action. When you feel connected to a communtiy and to the earth and to the literal trees you sit beneath, than you will fight to protect them. The picture is a tree that sits at a park across from the house that I grew up. And it is a beautiful tree and a beautiful moment when the light was filtering through the leaves. I noticed it because I love this park, and I had just finished picking up a bag of trash.

Best bag of the month!

April 10, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I received a very touching message from a reader, about how a certain blogpost resonated with her. Those messages are the most meaningful to me. I never believed that I could reach people I know and do not know through writing. No matter how long this eco-avator / Dr. Plastic Picker journey lasts, I will always treasure the writing the most.

But let’s get down to business! A teenager I know emailed me and asked me if I thought she should start blogging. I am unsure what to tell her. The writing part is the best, but the blog has to have a point. And this point of this blog is to pick up plastic!!! So let’s let the esoteric ephemeral stuff for another day and get back to business. Through this blog, I write for fun. I write about picking up plastic pollution, and in lieu of meaningless consumption – I donate some of my extra bucks to the earth.


General Comments

It’s Sally and Vi and we wanted to send you April 2021 Updates! We are trying a new format so let us know what you think! We’ve been busy at our two overlapping groups, just wanted to let everyone know what we’ve all been up to and remind everyone that we’ll have our q2month meeting May via Zoom! Let us know if there are any projects you want to tackle together. We’d love if anyone wants to write something for the AAP-CA3 blog on behalf of our committee as well. We’d like to increase our web presence. This is just highlights.   Rewild Mission Bay Cyrstal Doan Stephens MD our member from San Diego Family Care sent this important event for anyone who is interested in Rewilding efforts in Mission May. “Please join us on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 7 pm for “How Mission Bay Can Protect San Diego from Sea Level Rise .” This event is a free Zoom webinar hosted by STAY COOL for Grandkids. Andrew Meyer, Director of Conservation for the San Diego Audubon Society, will be our guest speaker in April and has updates to share about the significant Rewild endeavor to restore wetlands in Mission Bay. This effort has the potential to be one of the largest, most visible projects anywhere to protect a city from sea-level flooding.” https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-mission-bay-can-protect-san-diego-from-sea-level-rise-tickets-147184892977 It also brings up the important question whether we are a group want to support and join their coalition. Will discuss at the May meeting and hoping Crystal can present.      

San Diego Science Fair!!!
1st Ever Green Ribbons Awarded! AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee led by Dr. Patty Pascual announced the award winners of the 2021 Greater Sand Diego Science and Engineering Fair! From Patty, “The science fair took place virtually on 3/16/21; the top students were interviewed, and 3 projects were chosen out of 200+ science fair submissions. The top students will be given a monetary award, a green ribbon and certificate, AAP memorabilia, succulent & planter, and their names will be engraved on a plaque for the AAP-CA3 office. Thanks to Meredith Kennedy, director of AAP-CA3, for her support, Vi Nguyen & Jim Moseman for their guidance. Thank you to intern Ashley Teo for assisting in vetting abstracts, and to the judging committee, Drs. Cindy Fujii, Anne-Marie Birkbeck-Garcia, Larry Ashbacher, and Joe McQuaide, for all of their hard work.
1st place: Kyle Tianshi, 9th grade, NEREID: Nanoparticle Examining Raspberry Pi Empowered Image Processing Detector
2nd place: Ayush Agrawal, 11th grade, Detecting Arsenic Contamination in Asia Using Hyperspectral Satellite Imagery and Deep Learning practical and implementable for environmental contamination monitoring.
Honorable mention:  Zachary Eiseman, 8th grade, Effectively Reducing Electromagnetic Radiation From Technology the internet connection speed. Therefore these coverings did the best at limiting the radiation being emitted.

Less Litter More Health Litter Picking Event! Please consider participating in this FREE virtual event sponsored by Sustainable Pharmacy Project at Virginia Commonwealth University. A few of us are working with these great students on shared pharmaceutical waste projects. “The SPP team is elated to announce our upcoming litter picking competition, Less Litter More Health. With the support of VCCA, we have some great incentives to get you out in your community right around earth day. Please sign up via our interest form here or by clicking the hyperlinked image below. Be sure to read about how to participate in the event, as well as the great prizes from local businesses here in Virginia. Invite your family and friends and get outside to enjoy the beautiful spring weather!”  
Dr. Anne Maire Birkbeck Garcia Public Health Member on Air Pollution Control Board
This was probably the biggest development for our group.  Our organizational efforts and lobbying (many thanks to Sabrina Perrino and Dan Spencer and ABG of course) got it done.  I’ve posted this all over the blogsphere but in case you missed it, here is the link to SDPCA website.  Congratulations again to Anne Marie! Well done. https://sdpediatriciansforcleanair.com/dr-birkbeck-garcia-sdpca-pediatrician-appointed-to-the-apcd-board LEGISLATIVE STUFF:
Sally and Vi worked with AAP-California Climate Change and Health Legislative group, and AAP-California signed up to support SB 467 the anti-fracking oil setbacks bill.  Several of us are working and some of you have called also, on the SDGE Franchise Agreement fight to get San Diego to sign a shorter 5-year-agreement with our not-friend-to-the-environment SDGE. Patty, Vi and Sally are attending this month the National AAP Legislative Conference, and thank Meredith and chapter leadership for the support. Lots of legislative stuff we are working on, so if this is your passion – PLEASE LET US KNOW. We need help!

Children’s Art Council is meeting this Saturday, April 10 at 11:30 to finalize the submission website and everything will hopefully live this weekend!  Email premed intern Hakim Tokhi at aapchildrensartcouncil@gmail.com   General Committee Meeting: Q2MONTH Climate Change & Health Meeting May 18, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom  
It’s so beautiful and fragrant.

April 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m filled with hope today. Usually I blog in the early morning, but I haven’t really posted anything in a few days. I’ve been busy working the late shift at work and doing interesting climate projects and work work projects. But I wanted to share this picture of a simple blue flower from a rosemary branch my friend Dr. Jill Gustafson gave me. It seems a silly thing, but this is a branch she gave me from her bush. I had tried to propogate several other rosemary bushes from around the office but they didn’t root. This one I asked her for, and after she had given it to me – I had just stuck it in this pot with a mix of potting soil and compost. I watered it here and there, and at times I did not think it would root or make it. But it flowered this past week and the blue flowers are really beautiful. It’s alive.


Life is growing in an inhospitalable

April 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Wow. I’m proud of myself this morning. Do I start a lot of blogpost this way? My parents were big believers of positive reinforcement and always praised us children growing up. We are generally self-directed and self-modulated and humble people (are you snickering??? LOL), so I think it worked. I am proud of myself this morning, because I made a lot of headway on the article for the Journal of Applied Research in Children. I had doubts last night, especially when I realized I completely missed my first meeting as part of the HMO green team. I was running late with patients. I had it on my iPhone calender but not my paper calender. I’m still a paper calendar type of person. But with the saddness of realizing I completely missed that meeting, I think I overcompensated by really dialing down and getting through the writing for the journal article which is honestly right now more important. The deadline is looming and we have an author meeting tomorrow morning.


Beautiful flowr at my mom’s house.

April 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Why do I write about personal finance? Because I always think about money and time, and cost effectiveness and efficiency. Why do I write about personal finance to you? Becuase I always think about the earth and how are we to save this world, if not together. I figure I’m just doing what I always do, just out loud – think about my personal finance, your personal finance and also the world’s carbon-budget planetary finance and maybe some will find it interesting enough to wander to the blog and read about it. If they remember my name Dr. Plastic Picker and it encourages them to sign a petition or reduce their plastic use, than I’m doing something other environmentalist aren’t. I stop by other personal finance blogs and sprinkle some environmentalism in the comments here and there.


New Growth That Makes Me Think Of You

April 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Dear Daughter,

Yesterday we were together for much of the day. I mixed up the time of your volleyball practice, and we showed up at the park without any practice. You were already dressed in your volleyball clothes, the shorts and the jacket that are your favorite. You looked like an anime volleyball character, and I know that is part of the reason why you love volleyball. I love that you love volleyball, because it is important to move your body and realize our bodies are special places that our spirit lives and to care for that place. We had a wonderful day instead wandering around the old park that I grew up. You climbed the big hill and wandered around the woods there. This community is safe. This is where I grew up. I didn’t worry about you, and the others around the park because I knew they were there with their families doing much of the same thing. Spending time together in a place that they know belongs to them. Indeed this earth belongs to all of us creatures, and that is why I was picking up trash yesterday. Wasn’t that such a big bag of trash we gathered? Thank you for showing me all the pieces of plastic littering the earth.

Yesterday we talked several times and I told you stories. I told you the story of how really sick you were when you were a baby. And the three distinct times when the doctors asked me, do you want to continue? And each time, I put my hand over you through the skin overlying my womb, or through the isolette and said – yes, please continue. I’m the only mommy she has, if I don’t fight for her life alongside her – who will? You are older now and the stories I told you yesterday were brief and matter of fact. Those times were hard for me, but I was already a woman physician grown and graduated. You were small and fighting for each breathe, each moment and each day. I promised you while you were in the neonatal intensive care unit a full and loving life. And that is the life you have. It’s what you call the “bubble” mommy and daddy created for you. And like the isolette that they put you in as a premature baby, that is the “bubble” of community, family and love that we surround and protect you.

But I forgot to tell you something yesterday, and I am typing it here before I forget. I may read it to you later, or maybe you will wander onto the blog to read it later. I know sometimes you come to check to see what your mother the silly Dr. Plastic Picker writes about sometimes. This I won’t tell you for a little bit because I don’t want to be too melodramatic. Sometimes these stories we tell, need to be given in small bits and pieces as even wonderful stories can be overwhelming.

When we were over at your grandmother’s house, my mother’s house, for the first time in over a year – we walked by the ancestral alter at the house. We were more focused on you giving your grandfather the first hug that he has received from you in over a year. But I forgot to point out the ancestral alter and the picture of my grandmother, your maternal great grandmother. It’s one of the few pictures my mother has of her mother. Our family lights incense there and leaves symbolic gifts of rice and food to her spirit. She lives there, in the spiritual and literal sense with us still.

You have to remember our stories, even if you do not choose to continue formally what our family has done for generations which is to honor our ancestors. You have to remember and to keep in your heart that the woman in the picture, your maternal great grandmother, loved your grandmother unconditionally. Your grandmother, my mother, loved me unconditionally. And I love you, unconditionally. Each of us as women have had traumas and challenges, and life has not been easy especially for your great grandmother as a rural woman in South Vietnam with six children and a husband long dead after the colonial war with the French. But somehow, loving our daughters has made them stronger and allowed each generation of women in our family to gain strength.

Our culture was originally a matriarchal culture before we were colonized by the Chinese who brought the idea that boys were better than girls. I think we still are a matriarchal culture, because what is culture but the traditions of a people? This is why what you do at school and who you are, is celebrated by your grandmother so much. Next time we go over to your grandmother’s house, I will show you the picture of your maternal great grandmother and tell you what each object on the alter means. And did you know that the name you carry, which is Thao actually means together with Hieu – Hieu Thao means filial piety, faith in your family. I forgot to tell you that. But in our family it is not the children who honor the elders, it is the mothers who honor their daughters.

I love you, unconditionally.

Your mother who has the same name.

Shared by a friend. If it’s your image, let me know! I’ll give you credit. I have no idea where it’s from?

April 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

We had such a huge climate victory for our region, that I can’t even begin to describe. We were at the right place at the right time, and continuing to build authentic and honest connections within our community. A trusted and well regarded pediatrician was appointed to the San Diego Air Pollution Control District Board, who is qualified and passionate about the earth and Environmental Justice Community Children that she will help us move the needle on climate change. Then the SDGE Franchise Agreement might be back in play. This is the nitty-gritty agreement when San Diego chooses who gets to place natural gas pipes and electrical lines in our actual land, and this is leverage on pushing SDGE toward cleaner fuel. This will be the next big battle. But yesterday’s win regarding the Air Pollution Control District and the new goal of the SDGE Franchise Agreement, was enough to have me literally running around the clinic yesterday so happy for the earth. But this morning after an ok night sleeping and watching a weird period drama (which would have been interesting to the previous me), is leaving me a bit lethargic. I have to catch up on charts today, continue plugging away at the journal article which is going relatively well, Girl Scouts this morning and also just taking care of myself a bit. I need new glasses and I need to schedule a visit to the dentists, even an eco-avatar needs to get my teeth cleaned.


I was more organized in my thinking when I made these. They were gifted to twins.

April 1, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I usually write monthly plastic picking totals and detail how many bags of plastic pollution I’ve collected mostly from the beach, and how many items I’ve salvaged from the landfill. I detail the number and what kinds of items. It’s April Fools though, so I’ll leave that post for maybe tomorrow or Friday. It’s an easier post for me to write because it’s really just some profound thoughts and a chart and a link to my plastic picking lifetime totals page – and then we donate money. But this morning, I’m not really feeling it.


Sometimes darkness can give one hope.

March 31, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m not sure why, but I was out of sorts yesterday. Frustrated and impatient with the state of the world. I know that within the last 2 years of this environmental activism committment, I’ve been able to do a lot especially since it’s the job that doesn’t pay. But I was at the job that pays yesterday at a regional San Diego wide vaccine meeting, and I was frustrated at the state of the world. There is a goal that this group wants to get to, and has received money from the government. Yet they don’t know where they are, and initial ideas are things we implemented over seven years ago. When I’m part of something, I want it to succeed. I am committed, because professionally that is my goal to work on pediatric quality metrics. But it’s frustrating sometimes, seeing the money that is given and I think I could have done so many more with it. I’m sure this group will do well and move the needle. But I am who I am, and I don’t mince words. I did not mince words yesterday and spoke my piece. But I’ll continue to show up and help make it a success, because vaccinations are important.