Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time
 
Cow’s Creek Physician Rescue (CPR)

November 26, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and we are home home. In our Southern California home. I have to work today normal clinic and Saturday 830-5pm. It’s extra duty on Saturday and my obligation of being part of our physician group. I get paid overtime. I don’t give away my shifts anymore. I don’t even know why we judge others for giving away their extra duties when others want to work it, but it’s still a thing in our department. The judging. But it’s getting better and I’ve decided that there are few times that it’s productive to render judgement on things like that. There’s Mr. Plastic Picker who is standing in the middle of the tree parcel of our Oregon farm. Over a hundred acres of douglas fir on that side of the parcel, and a healthy stream that flows through it. Both of us, and all doctors, we’ve been judged our entire careers. And sometimes the judging and punishing is inflicted by eachother. It’s an institutional and professional history that dates back centuries really. It’s no use blaming any one person or institution, but it’s important to understand how deeply rooted it is in our professional culture.

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Better. The first picture I put Riley’s eyes were closed. Now they are open! My eyes are open as well.

November 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It was really fun yesterday. Riley Gilbertson our advocacy intern and I got to stop by to the UCSD PRIME HEq program, and we even had designated parking spots at lot #603 which is the end of Osler Lane! Riley got his spot. Someone was parked in mine! I parked in the pharmacy school’s spot. I hadn’t been at that area at UCSD since interviewing as a medical student over 20 years ago. San Diego is really a big city now.

The UCSD PRIME HEq program is part of a larger University of California program, and each campus (UCLA, UCD, UCSD ect ect) has a different emphasis. I learned this yesterday because my old medical school friend and friend Dr. Luis Castellanos is the director of PRIME HEq at UCSD. He even agreed to be features in my blog about a year ago! Here is the blogpost https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-luis-castellanos-cardiologist-doing-his-part-for-the-environment-7/

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How I see our HMO partnership.

November 18, 2021

by drplasticpicker

We did it! Our HMO green team did it. We gave our internal Ted Talk and it reached 1400 physicians and landed like this beautiful seed bomb onto a mature compost pile. The Green Dragon that is our partnership in San Diego is awoken, and the higher higher ups from region heard it too. We are getting emails and text messages, and things are mobilizing. I know we are pretty “green already” but we all know there is so much more to go. It had to be us. It had to be physicians that are in the trenches and that the others identify with. We shared our stories, and did our traveling show. Dr. RA made sure we practiced, and we pulled at the heart strings. We saw our area medical director get a bit choked up as we interwove physician burnout, physician wellness with planetary wellness and true healing. I was in like this really shy and fetal state yesterday as all the emails and text messages were coming it. Grateful that it landed well and ready for next steps. But wanted to share here, that each of us can do this locally. Experts are important, but I think our group have seen the three of us locally digest and take action and because we are connected – it makes a bigger difference. Green hugs. Our dragon is awoken. You should wake up yours. I like these metaphors.

We had prepared so much. Each slide was a culmination of multiple months of other projects, and thinking and digesting and doing. I think it showed. Our preparation and the body of our work. Now we continue doing. We can’t rest too long, because this is not about us. It’s never been about us. Actually it is about the 1400 physician us, that is our partnership. But it’s not about the three of us. But the three of us did pretty great yesterday. I think it’s okay for me to feel happy. I was feeling shy yesterday, but today I think it’s okay to feel proud. I was somewhat emotionaly yesterday and had to talk a walk at a local wetlands. I was there anyway waiting for our daughter to finish volleyball. It’s right there and easy to get to. So I went for a walk in the wetlands and picked up bag 12/20 this month. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get 20 bags this month. But now that I’m at bag 12, I think I’ll be able to get to 20.

All you need is salad tongs.

And I forgot. We got to pick the charity this year, and Dr. RA worked really hard to organize the donation drive. We have until December to really get everyone to donate.

Wow. We really did it. RA, DN and I did it. I’m so proud of us.
This organization gives me hope. Donate to them or Rainforest Trust if you can.

November 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m still not sure how and why it all happened. I haven’t let my virtual and real friends in California know yet, but I will soon. I did tell my friends at the office and the Rady’s residents who were rotating with us. When a big climate and health responsibility and opportunity descends upon me, my automatic reaction is to reach out for help. I reach out to those I think can help me complete the task the best, and those that I can trust. I’ve reached out already to one of the upcoming Rady’s chief residents, and she has agreed to help and is uniquely qualified. I know I can reach out to my friend Dr. Dan Spencer, and I think he will likely be the other person who can help. But I’m just letting it soak in and trying to sort out how I’m going to make sure I give this opportunity/responsibility that has been entrusted to me – and do what is best for the earth and for the children that we are responsible for. Because all of this is for them. We want to give our children and our grandchildren a shot at a liveable planet. The stakes have never been so high.

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So many years ago.

November 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I was virtually present at one of our Public Health Advsiory Council meetings for Climate Actions Campaign. That advocacy council is growing with plenty of help from other health professionals. I honestly think it might be time for me to step back as they are concentrated on very important local wins, but I’ve been asked to be part of state wide advocacy efforts within the AAP. I’m struggling a bit with that decision, and had a slight headache because of goodness-work overload. I had to take some motrin last night (which is rare) and quietly read a poem by Walt Whitman our son recommended.

But there were several moments at the meeting two nights ago, that were so powerful. My children are older, teenagers both now. The picutre above is my daughter at one of the moments when her littleness and beauty were so overwhelming to me. Where did the time go? How quickly have the years passed? Really all this climate work is for her and all our children. I check in with her to see if we as a family are doing okay. I was at volleyball last night and eventhough multiple work phone calls intruded into our time, we got through it and I was there to drive her. She was okay with it, and we had a very nice dinner all four of us. If dinner ran a bit later into the call, I would drop that call. But it worked out. We got to volleyball, got to dinner, and I got to that last call – without the sense of rushing.

But there was a moment when my friend Dr. RA was also calling into the call and her daughter said in this beautiful small voice “Come into the light mommy, come into the light.” Dr. RA was standing in the dark in front of the house, trying to patch into the advocacy call. And her daughter beckoned her into the warmth of the family. I saw my friend Dr. RA the next day, and I told her that moment was so beautiful. She also I know is doing this work, standing in the dark in front of her house for her children and all the children that she takes care of.

Just one of those moments, and so many climate and health advocates are physician mommies with young children. “Come Into the Light Mommy, Come Into the Light.” The voice of our children beckoning us home.

Puzzle our teen daughter and I finished Sunday.

November 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s daylight savings and I never have really understood the entire concept. The chaos that it causes doesn’t really affect me anymore, because my body is in rhythm with the sun and moon and I get up at the same planetary time. The amount of darkness while I’m peering out of our energy efficient glass doors into the backyard is about the same. It’s starting to get light outside a bit. Everyone is asleep except my in-laws as they too are usually up early like I am to take advantage of the quiet.

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My beautiful evolving “Green Awakening”

November 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I am so happy for Crispy Doc! I don’t really “know” him but I visit his blog once in a while. I am also one of 70 physician personal finance bloggers out there on his blogroll https://www.crispydoc.com/physician-finance-bloggers/. To be on his blogroll you have to blog about physician personal finance (which I do all of the time) but he checks to make sure you have a blog dedicated to this at least once every 3 months. It’s not a hard requirement, and I connected with him on a lark. I’ve always been fascinated by the FIRE, financial independence retire early world. Then I coined the term FISE, Financial Independence to Save the Earth. The term is important to me, but it’s just me using it. Once my friend Dr. McFrugal blogged about my term. https://www.drmcfrugal.com/weekend-reflections-9-13-20-fire-and-fire/

Anyway, back to why I’m happy for Crispy Doc – an ED physician who I do not really know. He’s Crispy Doc because he was burned out. But now he is moving into some kind of community health/management position and using his MPH degree. That is it! Physicians are such wonderful people and knowing that he is using his financial independence to do good and work in community health and management is really wonderful.

But the reason I started blogging this morning and meandering around the blogsphere is that I wanted to tell you about something we bought for $30 that for me is TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY. We are quite minimalistic in our household. I don’t really think I’ve bought much new in terms of clothing in two or three years? Our consumption of material things has gone way down. But Mr. Plastic Picker did buy me a $30 milk frother. I am so happy because it is going to save me money, make me happier, healther, and help me save the environment. This is why.

RANDOM TABLE OF REASONS WHY A MILK FROTHER IS A FISE PURCHASE

Before (Starbucks)After (home Milk Frother)Notes
Cost $5$0.10 mostly the organic soymilk, matcha green tea was free, power was free from solar panels paid for already
Plastic +++NONE!
Calories23075 I use 1/8 of the carton of soy milk or 1/2 a serving which is 50 calories and 1 teaspoon of sugar which is 15 calories
Food miles0.5 miles0 miles
Sugar????1 teaspoonthis is the biggest, I need to make sure my dental health stays good

And that is it. That is why my new MILK FROTHER is so FISE (Financial Independence to Save the Earth!). I love it! Mr. Plastic Picker bought it for me. He works a lot of overtime because he grew up with not as much material wealth. I tell him not to buy me things, but he bought me a MILK FROTHER and he also let me buy the OREGON FARM! Well I bought that too, because I work as well. Thank you dear readers. I am so happy with my milk frother. I will make you healthy matcha green tea soy latte anytime you are at my house! It only cost me $0.10 and we will be saving the earth together while we get healthier as well.

Also we are helping to save the planet by drinking less coffee. Here is the environmental impact of coffee “Increasing competition and a drive for increased output are impacting the environment in negative ways, with monocropping becoming the new norm alongside ‘sun cultivation’ methods. WWF reports that because of this, 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America have been cleared to make way for coffee farming, and this deforestation is on the rise in coffee-growing countries. Incidentally, 37 of the 50 countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates are also major coffee producers.” https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/coffee-and-its-impact-on-people-animals-and-the-planet/

It’s something to think about! I don’t really think about it anymore because I don’t drink coffee. I drink this beautiful cup of every morning which I call my “Green Awakening.”

So frothy!
My actual bags and slide I am using for a Tedx Talk at our HMO, with my best green friends.

November 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m really at bag 575, but by the time I give the above presentation with my best Green Friends Drs. Dave Neison and Rachel Abbot, I should be at bag #590. I thought the slide was really pretty! Power point is an environmentalists (especially and climate and health advocates) best tool. You can do so much with powerpoint???!!! Remember, my graphic of the propellar planes f@rting lead particles on the children of clairemont and affecting their neurodevelopment? I took that down from Instagram because I didn’t want to rile up too many people. But here on theis irreverent blog? I think it’s okay. It’s a way for me to blow off steam about the state of the earth.

But what is the state of my plastic picking goals???!! 15 bags this month! And in total I’m at bag 575 lifetime. Please click here to see my lifetime totals running page. Just in case you need proof. https://drplasticpicker.com/plastic-picking-round-up/ And in total I’ve salvaged 1745 things from the earth and 45 things this month and reployed them into human circulation. Really interesting things this month. A nice wooden pole, a garden hedge clipper thing I found in Del Mar cleaning the wetlands there, and always MONEY! A quarter this month.

ObjectTotalFate 
Aluminum Cans23Recycled
Plastic Bottles12Recycled
Sand Toys3Gifted
Flip Flops0Donated
Clothing Items0Donated
Toys0Gifted
Glass Containers6Recycled
Hats0Donated
Tennis Balls0Gifted
Swim Goggles0Donated
Office Supply Items3Used

I try to get 20 bags a month, but this month got 15. I took a few jogs and walks without getting trash, because I really feel there was less around. I’m also trying to jog more and get more cardio in. Next month I should be back to my 20 a month. My goal is 1000 bags of trash!

I have been so grateful for this journey and each bag of trash has led me to new adventures literally and metaphorically. I’m in conversation with other climate and health friends about the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. I’m planning of presenting two posters there, since I have to do one for work and the other is the aVgas project. I’m making myself available to help with a panel and climate and health. If my friends need me, then I’ll be there. If they don’t need me, Dr. Plastic Picker can always find things to do. Indeed, I’m really excited if for the scenario that they don’t need me. I’m super creative, and I have all sorts of ideas of how to me impactful at the meeting in recruiting more like-minded pediatricians to help save the world.

Just chuckling to myself at all my ideas. It’s like this book at Emerson that I haven’t yet finished, my mind is on fire. And it’s on fire for the earth. I’ve recovered from my bout of lactose intolerance. Please don’t offer me sour cream or any dairy. It’s all plant-based milks for me now. Sending me plant-based hugs, yours truly Dr. Plastic Picker!

Local La Jolla Bananas from Dr. Joe.

November 2, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Are you stressed out about COP26? I am a little bit. Watching the news and the bumblings and the Russian/China No-Shows. Watching the posturing. The mainstream media doesn’t help as well because gloom and doom always generates more clicks than hope.

But anyone who has ever been on any kind of committee knows that the leaders, they don’t do much. Most leaders anyway. They just posture and take credit for what the worker-bees accomplish. The true work is done by the creatives and those that have passion, and the people – the people is where the answer is. I’ve sat on many committees and indeed, I’ve lead many committees, and I know this to be true in my heart. So am I upset about COP26? Yes. But I also know the answer. The answer is that the people and the masses need to be inspired by eachother. We need more Boyan Slats from the Ocean Clean Up. We need more Greta Thunbergs. And we need more climate and health advocates/activists. The leaders will follow along once we’ve convinced more people, and honestly half of the world still needs convincing. No one said this was going to be easy.

So I am doubling down on local efforts and enacting change locally. This is where I can make changes, and looking back at the last two years – I am in awe at what we’ve been able to accomplish here. I am someone who likes to take action, but I realize the biggest way for me to help is to continue to talk about this work. As we are moving the needle on various projects and pair it with advocacy talks, for some reason it resonates. I’ll be interviewed by NIH this afternoon. We are preparing for an HMO wide walk on climate and health. We are giving a county LiveWell seminar on Climate and Health. I’m considering leading a breakout session and presenting our avGas project at Pediatric Academic Societies, in order to talk climate and health. The talking paired with the doing, that is what I’m meant to do right now.

Just here on the blog this morning, sorting through some climate emotions. The bananas above are from my friend Dr. Joe. He has banana trees in his backyard, and I pick up his coffee grounds for my compost. We kind of do this back and forth trading of things because he lives right next to my mom. It keeps me connected with him, and that sense of connection is what we need to #fightfor1point5.

I’m at bag, I think 575 abouts. I’ve given out over 500 reusable bags with the Dr. Plastic Picker logo on it that hopefully is decreasing plastic bag use. Those bags were really pretty. I may reorder some. I’ve banded together a motley crew of 40 pediatricians and premed interns in San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air, and we are lifting pediatric voices here locally. We have three pediatricians serving as public health members of different Air Pollution Boards. We are getting some headway on pushing our mayor to offer unleaded aviation fuel at Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport. Well at least it sounds like some policy people are listening and city councilmembers are listening. The Youth Arts Project is getting to it’s completion and the art work from the children is absolutely amazing. We will print a collection of 10-25 of the entries, and have a traveling exhibit of the works in different offices in San Diego. And my mentor and former senior resident Dr. Young-Ho Yoon nominated me for an alumni award for my advocacy work. I’ve since somewhat given up on Harvard and having an influence over there and I think it’s unlikely that I will receive that award. The award is another opportunity to talk climate, but having him nominate me – his former intern – means the world to me. It means he noticed and he cares. He’s taught me so much. He told me to buy the Aerobin400 and the composter has been such a great metaphor for life. He inspired me to make my own pizza dough. I really should nominate him.

But he knows, and you dear readers know how much I appreciate you. I had colonic spasm yesterday and almost went to the Emergency Room. I’m 100% lactose intolerant now, and I made th mistake of eating sour cream. Lets just say it was a difficult 24 hours. But I’m back after resting and taking care of myself. I had no qualms calling in sick yesterday, as I rarely do and I was sick. I hydrating myself and napped. Dairy is my kryponite. But given there are so many plant-based alternatives and I am changing to mostly plant-based anyway, I just have to be more careful. Dairy is my kryptonite. That’s a cool turn on phrase!

Signing off to do more climate talk talk talk, and going to contact the California EPA about lead data. If you are the mayors office or city councilperson’s policy people sneaking around my blog, all I have to say is that I gave you guys fair warning that your constituents are not going to be happy that you led leaded avGAS continue to rain down on their children. I’m just doing my job. You should do your job. And yes I posted your job on the World Health Organization website. Yes I did.

Signing off, Dr. Plastic Picker – your local litter picking pediatrician who is also trying to clean the sky of lead from the Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport. They would never do that to La Jolla. Which is why I know these La Jolla bananas are Lead-Free. Sad but true. It’s an environmental justice issue folks.

Brown Pelican
From oceana.org

October 31, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I fell in love again yesterday. I am still happily married but Mr. Plastic Picker was in an irate mood. Sometimes when you are married for a few decades, it’s hard to remember the other person is a separate person. And sometimes, separate people have to have some alone time to deal with their emotions. But as I’m going through a time of growth and change, Mr. Plastic Picker also is going through a time of his own growth and change. So he was home walking our puppy and taking our son to his activities, and I was at Girl Scouts.

It may have been the emotional transference from husband to wife, and my need to get a way a bit from my husband. But we went on our first outing for our Girl Scout Troop for the year. And it was wonderful. Absolutely amazing. I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life, but I’ve never been kayaking and I’ve never seen La Jolla Cove from that perspective.

It was a wondrous adventure from the time Mr. Plastic Picker dropped us off at La Jolla village until when we returned home after the bonfire filled with pizza and s’mores. I didn’t intend to kayak but my fellow co-troop leader was not feeling well, and there needed to be another troop leader. So my daughter and I were in a double kayak. She was in the back steering and I was the power in the front.

San Diego you were so beautiful yesterday. This native daughter fell in love with you again. And I fell in love with the brown pelican. Brown Pelican you are 70% blind. You return to your nesting place because you need to see the bright white splotches of your white excrement on the cliffs. You can keep gallons of sea water in your gullet. And you are always true brown pelican, returning to home where you’ve marked things with your excrement. And perhaps Mr. Plastic Picker spirit animal is the brown pelican. And you were beautiful gliding over the calm waters of the cove and diving in to skim for fish. You kept on gliding over me yesterday. Or Mr. Plastic Picker, is your spirit animal the bee that tried to sting me while I was in the kayak? How in the galatic universe a bee found me in the middle of the cove to try to buzz around my face? I did not squash you bee, because you are a super being – indeed one of the most powerful living things on earth. But I did not know why you were in the ocean trying to land on my nose? Were you trying to pollinate me? I don’t think that would be appropriate! Good Lord!

But yesterday was a wondrous day spent kayaking in La Jolla Cove. I really did have a wonderful invigorating time. Even getting tipped over at the end as we tried to return to shore, and shivering in cold but saved by my dear friend’s extra blanket and jacket. The entire day was about reconnection and nature and community. And even Mr. Plastic Picker was touched by that community because he picked us up and our parent friends said hello to him. I love my husband. But even after almost twenty years of marriage, we can be mysterious to eachother. Is he the 70% blind brown pelican or the annoying bee? I don’t know. I do know that I love him and my giving him space yesterday, and being joyful is the best thing for him. I know he drank all of my plant-based almond milk and he got to see the weird bananas that by friend Dr. Joe gave our family. They are La Jolla Bananas. Who else gets to eat bananas grown in the backyard of a a La Jolla House but the Plastic Picker family?

Much love to you all, and it is so important to support your spouse when they are having one of those days. Yes I fell in love with you again San Diego. Yes you brown pelican. And every day you, Mr. Plastic Picker.