We did it! We advocated. I started this blogpost yesterday and just wrote “Time to ADVOCATE!!! SB 467.” And that was it. I’m returning to this blogpost now with a cute new picture and also to say that for the last 24 hours (with some well deserved sleep in between) I worked really hard for our HMO/department doing a gazillion projects but in between was advocating. It is all happening.
When I declared I was going to save the earth (along with everyone else) I was not kidding. The Youth Climate Movement is powerful, but they are children. They woke me up, pediatrician and mother me. The adults need to get to work. To be honest, back in August 2020 when I wrote this post https://drplasticpicker.com/ab-345-did-not-fail-politicians-failed-but-pediatricians-are-quick-learners-and-we-rise-up/ I was really sad and mad. I just emailed Erik Anderson from KPBS thanking him for the interview from August, but it was again a sad time when we were accused of this being a publicity stunt and ultimately the bill failed in committee.
I spent most of the weekend puttering around the house and gardening this weekend. My friend Dr. Jill Gustafson https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-jill-gustafson-environmentally-minded-pediatrician-4/ referred to it as my urban farm, which I guess is a really cool way to think about it. I need to update the blogpost I wrote about her as the picture link does not work anymore. I might just use a picture of the cool hand-made soaps that she has been working on or the 3D Boston Puzzle she leant me! Sharing is caring folks, and Dr. Jill Gustafson cares about the world and everyone!
Back to gardening. I think it is when I read Project Drawdown and the emphasis on the emissions of the agricultural sector, reading about the power of plant-based eating on reducing climate change and looking at myself and my influence as pediatrician that takes care of kids who need to eat better food that made me realize what the gardeners around me had known all along. If we want to save the world, we have to do it by regenerating the soil and eating more locally and plant-based. And what is more local than your own urban garden?
I was updating our financial spreadsheets and remembered it kind of all started when we sold our “extra car” which was a Honda Odyssey Minivan. It actually went to an old high-school friend for a bit below market rate $4500. But not only did we get that money and avoided paying the yearly DMV fee which was about $150 or so, but we gained all this square footage of concrete pad in the back. As I began to transform that area into a container garden, I realized I had room for the Aerobin 400 composter that I had always wanted. And then the success in our backyard pad led to me venturing back up onto our roofdeck and now creating a green space up there. Between walking in the backyard and then up and down the spiral staircase, I’m getting a lot of steps in.
It’s been a beautiful process. I’ve planted beet greens, radishes, onions, and chia microgreens successfully. It might have been just a few plants, but given that I did it on my own with guidance from my mother and mother-in-law – it made those dinners especially meaningful. I’m also working on succulents and I was inspired by a friend’s house and her succulent container front-porch area. I bought hybrid aloe plants that are doing really well, and continuing to collect and propogate succulents gifted to me by people I love or that I’ve found in our own front yard or sometimes a stray succulent that has broken off itself and I will gather on my litter picking walks. I know it sounds silly but at those moments, I feel like a forager – although I’ve never foraged for food and I don’t think I’ll get to that point! Although I admire them whole heartedly.
And then there are my adventures in composting! We harvested our first compost this weekend and I’m so happy. I check on my compost everyday and either turn it, or water it. With the Aerobin 400 , you aren’t supposed to need to do anything – but I have fun with it. And the more I harvest our compost, the more the top level sinks and I can add more scraps. I actually don’t have enough scraps so I’ve asked my little brother to save vegetable scraps for me! He lives in a downtown condo so no yard space. I need to buy him a kitchen compost container for under his sink but I need to know how tall. I’ll call him today.
And in the end, my family will be eating even more nutritious food all powered by this regenerative process that is the composter, our own urban farm, and a sense of regeneration and wellness in our lives.
I gave my mom that huge funny looking radish that I posted on Instagram, and she was delighted and happy. She said the gardening is good for my mental health. It definitely is. Maybe I would not have gone through that dark period in my professional life when I was so stressed and sad and hypervigilant and irritable if I had been a gardener then? But going through burn out led me to the beach, which led me to declare I was going to save the world, which led me to gardening which led me back to my mom and mother-in-law and back to our own waste in our house now miraculously turned into soil. For each of us, we have our own journey and what I have most learned from all of this is to live in the present and not let worries of the future the “what ifs” destroy the joy of today. This is Dr. Plastic Picker, your pediatrician being present with you fully today and during your clinic visit.
I needed some cooking therapy yesterday morning, and in between blogging and answering work/environmental emails – I made granola. I’ve made granola now many times, but this granola was a big hit in clinic! I had several people ask me for the recipe. My ultimate goal is to have everyone eat more fiber, inspire more plant-based eating and reusing containers we all have at home. And granola can be the entry point for many people!
I admit it. My family has been involved in the real estate business since the 1970s. But then so have many people in our region. There are a lot of “real estate” families like ours. Just like anyone who has worked and thought about things through many times, real estate is a skill set. And like anything, when you first look at it – it appears daunting, then easy, then really difficult and then in the end simple again.
A really smart HMO resident called me yesterday to ask me real estate advice about buying their first home. They have a small downpayment and are approved for a 30 year fixed at 3.1%. But there is some uncertainty about their lives in terms of where they will be in a year, and where in San Diego they could eventually settle if the graduate gets a job here. No children yet. Smart young doctor that is usually good with money.
It’s 2AM and technically a new day. I had fallen asleep early as I was curled up in a ball, processing some work decisions I had to make. Medicine is hard. I’ve had to make some tough calls morally, and I made the right one. But I had to go to sleep as sleep is restorative. My daughter asked to read something to me, and I just did not have anything left. It had been a long day at clinic as well, supposed to end at 2pm but for me stretched to 5pm after calling local authorities to do a wellfare check. I hardly ever turn away from my children especially the youngest who was born so early, but I had nothing left yesterday. She quietly left and closed the door after I turned her away, and her father followed her to help her with her question. The handsome college junior , my college sweetheart Mr. Plastic Picker came back later and hugged me and told me to go to sleep. We are on the same career track and he has similar situations at work, so he understood my moral fatigue. We are a good team.
I would usually write a Hopeful Wednesday post, but today in lieu of Hopeful Wednesday – I will just cross-post something from my real-life facebook. Our AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee is a real group of friends. And one our friends did something amazing. Here is the post.
It’s been a year of efforts, and I wanted to give a big shout out to Patty Pascual Hosking part of our AAP CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee who works on the climate advocacy/legislative side of things with us. She was helped by our colleague Jim Moseman who leads the award from Kaiser. Patty had this dream of establishing a Green Ribbon to be given out by pediatricians in our committee at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair for research on climate change. Patty is San Diego raised, and Science Fair had been a treasured part of her teenage years and she wanted to give of herself to our community and to the environment through this venue. As with things that are driven by passion, it happened. I can’t tell you how joyous I am. And thanks to Drs. Anne Marie Birkbeck-Garcia, Joe McQuaide, Cindy Fuji and Laurence Ashbacher and our premed intern UCSD student Ashley Teo for jumping on in. “The AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee has been established as a professional organization at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The committee will judge and award the top 2 high school science projects that are most committed to the improvement in environmental health and most likely to lead to impactful environmental change. The GSDSEF is scheduled to take palce virtually on 3/15-3/18/2021.” Two high school kids will be awarded a “Green Ribbon” with a small monetary award for books, and also we decided to give each a cool concrete planter below with a native succulent. They have been ordered and on their way. These are made locally in Los Angeles by a small business, and hand poured using carbon-capture technology on site from coal and gas plants before they are released into the atmosphere. The carbon is infused with fly-ash and replaces 80% of the concrete compared to traditional methods. It’s lightweight and it’s cool, because Patty Pascual Hosking is cool as is saving the earth, science fair and empowering youth. Oh, women of color in science too since three of the judges are women pediatricians of color. Patty is too modest and I’m telling her awesome story.
And that is it. There is a Bright Vibes Feed they had reposted a quote “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet is the Belief that Someone Else Will Save It” along with the caption “We need more than a handful of environmentalists. We need 7.8 billion of them.” This is true on so many levels. We are all influencing eachother. And I know that in my small corner of the real world and virtual blogsphere, it’s not just me as a climate advocate. I have friends who are more modest (I’m the loud out there one) and they are environmentalist as well, and we’ll do this together. Hugs from Dr. Plastic Picker on this Wednesday morning. Amazing what good friends who care, and a solid night of sleep after yoga will do for my wellness.
I’m working on several substantial climate projects. Therefore I’m up at 424AM to take advantage of the quiet and to read and think. Anyone who wanders onto this blogpost, please know that the readership is like this virtual blanket of friendship I feel as I’m typing away in the silence. This blog is really my journaling about the eco-avatar me trying to save the earth.
We are working on an article for the Journal of Applied Research in Children entitled “INFORMING POLICY FOR CHANGING OUR BUILT ENVIRONMENT TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS AND ALSO TO SAFEGUARD THE HEALTH OF CHILDREN IN EJ COMMUNITIES, COMMON SENSE ADVICE FROM FOUR COMMUNITY PEDIATRICIANS.” We were excited to get the article accepted, but now we have to write it. Since our tween daughter was able to almost finish her 7th grade drama project and her History Day Project on Mahatma Ghandi, I thought to myself yesterday – I certainly can try to knock out some work on this writing project. Time moves quickly and I’m the lead author, so I want to really get this moving so we enjoy this experience.
I’m kind of all over the place this morning, and this weekend. We had a phenomenal pediatric drive through vaccine event yesterday. That’s already posted and publicized over several facebook pages and Instagram accounts. Then we did some parenting yesterday, and finally bought some underclothes for our daughter and much needed running shoes. Between Dicks Sporting Goods and RoadRunners Store (which I actually don’t recommend), we spent $350. So much for being frugal! We haven’t really purchased any sustaintial clothing for her in months. I don’t remember the last new piece of clothing? She is such a good daughter and okay wearing hand-me-downs and on this sustainability journey with me, but when you need sports-underthings you need sports-underthings. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are both real middle-managers and it doesn’t make sense during the COVID-19 pandemic to spend time exposing our daughter to possible infection and time is money, so we spent 3 hours shopping for things and spent $350 on things she really needed which are quality products that should last her a very long time. I told her honestly yesterday, “Mommy always likes to reuse and/or find a deal. But honestly dear daughter, we have plenty of money and daddy needs to work so let’s just get what you need and get home. It’s okay to get good quality clothes and spend money sometimes.”
I was pleased that we didn’t fall into the Road Runner’s trap of getting the custom orthotics for our daughter who has no foot issues. Sheesh. It was like going to buy a new car, and them trying to sell us all the bells and whistles when you just want to go home with the basic model. Definitely a hard sell. But we walked away and even had a good dinner, and avoided take-out yesterday. We almost ordered pizza and almost got burgers. But knowing that I could whip up dinner really fast, we saved ourselves the unhealthy fats and saved the earth a bit of emissions yesterday.
But I feel so connected with everyone today, even though I am just sitting at home typing away at the computer. I have been on and off typing, but in between communicated with the amazing students at the Sustainable Pharmacy Project who are applying for a grant, posted on my Crimson University Alumni Page about the same grant that all aims to increase the discussion on climate change and health. I made the Bobby Flay’s pizza dough again, as I looked through our fridge and homemade pizza is a great food waste recipe! So lunch will be pizza after about a 6 hour rise. I made one further step in solidfying the judging panel for the Green Ribbon that one of my amazing colleagues is organizing for the Greater San Diego Science Fair. And then I made a trash art piece that is very profound.
I usually want to present pretty pictures of nature and trash art for the readership. But yesterday I dragged this plastic large thing (I think it’s the underside of a car) from the corner of the HMO parking lot to the trash can near this hidden back patio where employees eat. I dragged it there and gave myself 3 bag credit. I’m at 13 bags of trash now, and I committ to 20 bags for the month. Honestly, around my neighborhood is pretty clean and I get to the beach about twice a week at most. I have a lot of environmental projects to do, and since I really am trying to save the earth – I’m taking the easy way out and picking up trash around the canyons and the HMO parking lot. And there is a lot of trash.
I had time at lunch yesterday to go on a walk with Dr. Dear Friend and we visited the baby succulents. She was tired and feeling sad, because a dear family member is very sick and in hospice. We are all going through life struggles and it’s important to hear our friends. So we walked up the HMO parking structure and I leant her my water bottle and she squirted some water on our succulent babies. We chatted and we were just together as colleagues and friends. The succulent babies are doing well, and you can check out Instagram to see how they are doing. I usually post at least once a week photos. They are succulents so they don’t really need to be watered. We are planning on planting trees up there and some succulent fairy gardens.
It’s totally out. It’s totally out in my HMO and physician group. I gave a podcast interview on physician wellness and I talked about Dr. Plastic Picker. I know it sounds odd since I’ve been out there already all over the blogsphere and Instagram for almost two years, but it was an oddly anticlimatic moment. I guess I’ve gone up the middle-management ladder so far already, that I realize that pretensions are silly and it’s the subtance of the person and their work that is the most important. I have no fear anymore of being ridiculed or looking silly. I’m totally out there now. And the reason I am out there is I need to make real changes from within and green our healthcare sector.
Everything is decomposing in my former “guerilla gardening” project up on the HMO parking lot. It’s not really guerilla gardening anymore since everything has decomposed, and I’m going to actually put real compost into those planters. There is an aloe tree and a bunch of succulents, but I’m just going to plant some bluberry pushes and a lemon tree soon. Why not. I even told the head of engineering (I think he is the head of engineering? It might be an imaginary person). And he was okay with it.