Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time

May 7, 2024

by Dr Plastic Picker

I am so sad today. I am so disappointed in what happened on campus 5/6/2024 at 5am in the morning at UCSD. The encampment at UCSD was entirely peaceful. I know too many students and faculty who can testify to that. Students were having peaceful gatherings and fostering community and discussion. And now after students were exercising their freedom of speech and assembly and speaking their truth, they were mocked and hurt by entities of authority and supposed trust. It’s heart breaking to me to see the students hurt, and mostly that their trust and idealism smashed. They saw an injustice and used their voice to ask the university to address that injustice. I don’t agree with everything the student movement asserted or asked for, but I certainly agree with their rights and the spirit of their actions. Then administrators and law enforcement officers of a city /municipality that many of them were raised in and chosen to spend these crucial years of learning, hurt them. Student and trusted peaceful religious figures were maced and beaten. There were snipers. This is absolutely ridiculous

The failure of leadership is so obvious. That the powers that be are trying to intimidate and instill fear into these students, shows the depth of some kind of deception or corruption. I do not pretend to know everything, but I do know when something seems fishy. If you are paid 1.5 million dollars to manage the university and you had to have police arrest peaceful students when other universities were able to address the protest differently, then you have failed. You do not deserve your 1.5 million dollars. You made how many more times my salary, and I work tirelessly for my patients (for which I am paid) and then for my community (for which I am not). I am unimpressed with your academic accolades. I am incredibly angry at this chancellor although I have never met him. In the end I am paid to take care of my patients and I take that responsibility seriously. In the end you are paid to take care of the UCSD students (and at the core are the undergraduates) and you failed.

And for those that are trying to rewrite/reframe what was happening at the UCSD encampments. I see it on some news outlets. Shame on you. Shame on you for trying to gaslight these students. The students will remember. When they become leaders in their fields when the rest of you have long left San Diego because you were never from here nor cared about these students and our region, you will be reminded when you had to made an important decision – and you decided wrong.

Dr. Plastic Picker

Around town doing errands getting ready for her party.

May 4, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I became a climate and health advocate around the same time my own daughter was entering her tween and teen years. Mixed in the city council advocacy and trying to address the existential threat of climate change at the regional level, I was mothering a tween and now a teen. I usually end my talks with a picture of her, because she’s incredibly pretty and accomplished, and I talk about my hope for what the world will look like for her in 15 years. I am incredibly greedy, ambitious, petty, loving and immature – when it comes to my own daughter. But usually I try to channel these normal emotions into good, by working harder for climate and health. I want for her what I want for all our children, a livable planet. I am five years into my promised 10 years of activism for her and your children’s future, and I’m incredibly proud of all that I’ve been able to accomplish in our small corner of the world.

So today is a big day for her, because we are celebrating her sweet 16. As a pediatrician, I’ve doctored and guided so many children and families through the pangs of childhood and adolescence. I feel incredibly grateful to have two children, who are a credit to our families. They represent the best of Mr. Plastic Picker and myself. As I see both children step forth into the world with their talents, passions and beauties – I feel satisfied with my life and am okay with getting older. It’s the natural cycle of life, decay and rebirth. From compost comes the flowers, and I am now the compost and my son and daughter are blossoming. I think much of the preoccupation with youth and beauty in our world, is because we are ignoring children and ignoring the true beauty of youth and their promise. When I see the teens and tweens, I see the results of parents and grandparents that have come through my clinic. I remember my own parenting, and see every day how exhausting and demanding each stage of child rearing truly is.

So I don’t botox my body. I don’t plastic surgerize myself. I try to exercise and eat well, and I asked my mother-in-law to trim my own hair two days ago. Given that she recently had a stroke and a concussion and is in her 80s, I thought I was incredibly brave! LOL. But I love her, and I am busy with life and doctoring and mothering, and honestly don’t worry about myself too much. But somehow my patients love me and the parents and nurses like my outfits. I think it’s mostly that I am happy these days, because I am enjoying my children and I have so much purpose in life.

We have lots of projects going and I need to send our May Newsletter out. We have our meeting for our advocacy group soon. I have three letters of recommendations to write. I have a paper to write with our writing group. I need to hug some residents who need hugs because being a resident and trying to create a family is hard when you are working 80 hours a week.

But today. Today I will concentrate on her. To my daughter, I have 130 silly emails I sent to someone dreaming about you and your future. I have another growing 10 silly journal entries lamenting on now discarded dreams and forming new dreams for you. But woven in those silly emails and journal entries and instagram and facebook posts, was snippets of your childhood between 14 and 15. I have been so lucky to live each day with you. The days are longer for mommy. I eagerly wait to see you wake up, and whether you’ll be pouting or smiling. I wait for our walks together, so you can tell me your teen stories for the day. But you and oppa are so busy now with your lives. Thank you for involving me in yours. Thank you for being an incredibly brave, smart, beautiful and accomplished girl. That I’ve been your mother for 16 years has been the greatest gift I’ve been given. You were the baby that almost didn’t make it, as you were born so early. And yesterday we were chatting about your sweet 16 and who was coming and who wasn’t, and you just casually mentioned your expected grades for this upcoming trimester without batting an eyelash. Given that your mother is Harvard-trained, how is it that I have a daughter that is smarter than I am? And with that, I feel incredibly empowered to save the world for you (and oppa). The boy part, you’ll figure out yourself. Mommy was jumping the gun. How did I ever raise someone smart enough to have the dreams that you are having. Shoot for the stars and all the plans we’ve been talking about. We are not the normal mother-daughter pair. You inspire me everyday to work harder for the earth and for our community. Happy birthday to the sweetest teen that I have ever met.

I don’t think you realize how incredibly beautiful you are. And it’s the internal part. It shines through.

Fancy hotel room

April 26, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m in Tuscon with Dr. Bear. Dr. Bear, the AAP San Diego Social Media animal. I’m speaking at a conference (did not take any honorarium!) at the Integrative Medicine Conference and I’m realizing that even these physicians don’t all “get it.” I’ve worked with so many different physicians on climate advocacy and a good number have been amazing integrative medicine fellowship trained. My friends Drs. Melanie Fiorella, Kathy Kemper and Sandra Gee are all collaborators and amazing. But as I was sitting at dinner with the other conference presenters, I realize that probably a majority don’t know how dire the climate crisis is and that someone needs to try to activate them.

So I’m in Tuscon in a nice hotel room with a stuffed animal, by myself. I miss my family honestly. I actually don’t like traveling, and if there wasn’t a huge global heating problem – I wouldn’t be here and honestly don’t want to be here. But I’ve accepted my life being pushed by the universe to go where I’m meant to go and I’m noticing the things I’m learning and the experiences I never would have had. If I hadn’t become Dr. Plastic Picker, I would never had the conversations I had yesterday and life is honestly interesting.

I get to have several famous UC San Diego professors as friends. One of my friends Prof Adam Aron told me to come to this event, and to speak to these doctors. He was the original one who was invited to speak. But he is very tired and has been doing so much for the climate movement, and it’s important to share in this work. So I was there sitting across from very famous integrative medicine doctors and researchers, and I had absolutely no idea who they were. I saw the famous Andrew Weil though, and I only really know him just because I saw his picture on the internet. But I got to see the dynamic and community they have here in Tuscon in the Integrative Medicine Department – and the mix of personalities. I probably will never get to see them again, but I talked to them and connected as much as I could.

Today I’ll give a talk. It’s the best that I had. I tried.

First slide.

And here I am, and I think I did create a new talk for them. And I’m reminded that I’m enough. You are enough. And I flew here (it just didn’t make practical sense to drive) and used two of my precious vacation days to speak at a conference of people I don’t know and would never take and cannot take any honorarium. This conference is about 370 attendees and it takes an entire team to put this together and they charge quite a bit. I think the economics of conferences is interesting. Our H3SD Heat and Human Health Summit in San Diego will only be local attendees and will be free, and will be amazing. That’s the conference of my heart. But I still have to travel to these summits, and I am hoping that integrative medicine doctors will be key in helping to address decarbonization and global heating.

But I think today the most important person I will see is a high school friend who is a professor at University of Arizona. Ricardo Valerdi I actually know and is founder of “Science of Sports.” I’m getting to talk to the sports medicine department at University of Arizona and their team physician Mark Sakr. I texted Ricardo on the plane over from San Diego, and yesterday he was able to snag me a speaking spot with Mark and his team today. I’m going to share the extreme heat and youth sports workflow. And share my brief story. I think that will be the most impactful.

I haven’t been blogging as much and I thank the readership for their patience. Earth Day and April as Earth Month has been absolutely a whirlwind of conference talks and projects. And here on the blog I can be honest. It’s been exhausting. But I’m almost done. And I get to see a close friend from childhood, and have dinner with his family tonight. Gosh, I can’t remember when we saw each other. And I want to go home and be with my daughter. We are planning her sweet 16 and this weekend it will be just the two of us (and Mr Plastic Picker) but she is the light of my life. I love her brother too. But there is just something about having a sweet almost-16 year old daughter who still likes to hang out with me.

Wearing her state speech Tshirt! We bought three and a sweatshirt!

Thank you for following along my journey as Dr. Plastic Picker. I’ll be home soon. It’s a 55 minute flight to Tuscon so close. But it’s not home. And I know that my climate fight needs to mostly be at home.

Yesterdays photos from our families perspective.

March 24, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The kick off for SB1137 happened yesterday. The two healthcare voices that showed up were me (Dr. Plastic Picker a pediatrician) and a premedical student that is still in high school. He’s shown up to multiple events, and if you show up – Dr. Plastic Picker hands you the opportunities. He’s already given a lecture at the medical school, helped establish the Student Electrification Initiative, and now going to push through a resolution in his city to support SB1137. It’s honestly whoever shows up, because this work needs to be done and it needs to be done now.

It was amazing all those that I saw again and met yesterday. It was a good sized group, about 50 community members, coalition members and youth advocates. My own two teens came, most notably my son who literally just landed back home for spring break from UC Berkeley. My daughter was there, woke up early for me to show up because her mother was speaking. Both of my children have done more than enough climate projects and understand fundamentally the importance of my advocacy, but I push them to do other things – because climate will become a large part of their lives later and for everyone. Now I want them both to grow and learn and have some privacy, from this intense world I’ve entered. But I saw one of my original mentors from Climate Reality! That was the first training I had done, and I had only met her virtually and I’ve been on the email list server for four years! It was really good to finally meet in person. I saw the members from SanDiego350.org and when a certain southbay justice person calls me or emails me, I show up. She texted me about this, and I made sure to show up. I saw Jack Shu! He’s an amazing climate advocate and has been for decades, and is now been joined by more Asian-American leaders like myself. He is amazing and his family is amazing. We’ve hung out and sang karaoke with all the UCSD premedical students!

And this morning, I’m just being a mom because yesterday – even though it was only a 5 minutes speech – I get so emotionally wrung out by it all. I was satisfied with how my comments landed. I was exhausted by the preparation, because I did have to review notes and prepare comments and do an updated premed search. I was energetic during the networking and happy to see everyone. But then afterwards because I’m fundamentally an introvert, I was exhausted and irritable and had to sleep. And then my daughter and I got into an argument, which is unusual for us. But I slept some more and she went running, and we realized it’s because of the nature of climate work and being connected. We laughed at dinner, so very much. We were happy and connected and together.

This morning, our son is upstairs with some high school friends who are all college freshman, and their laughing and chattering while watching some e-gaming finals. Mr. Plastic Picker and I drove over to the local bagel shop, and grabbed them some bagel sandwhiches and a carafe of coffee. That was new for us. They are college students, and I did not know that my son drinks coffee and so does his friends. But they are laughing and we give them space, but the house feels so full and wonderful with the young college students upstairs. Our 15 year old naturally wandered downstairs and making some whip cream for herself for no particular reason, and we’ll head out to the mall to buy a new set of earrings for her. I’m looking through the clear glass doors toward our beautiful backyard, and they are sitting and chatting and trying to fix our automatic gate. My mother sits in a very comfortable DME hospital grade bath chair, the ones that you see in the hospital when you are admitted. I absolutely have no idea how and where they got this chair, but they have one and now I realize why it’s important that we keep it. She looks so comfortable sitting in it.

And that is our life, with a hand-me-down luxury electric car in our garage that barely fits. We are so lucky in our lives. I am so lucky to be in the advocacy space that I’ve happened upon. And I am grateful for every day on this beautiful planet, to be connected with you to have my dreams for a livable planet and to still harbor silly dreams for my children’s future. The emotions are real, and the actions are impactful. Thank you for following along on my emotional journey. This work can get heavy, but this morning we saw rainbow and it seemed lighter because I put the earth at the center of all I do.

The little one. Always pushing me to be better.

March 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good Saturday morning dear blog readers!!! I know I’ve neglected the blog readership quite a bit. I promise I’ve mostly been working (doing clinical care because I’m still a full time physician) and trying to address the climate crisis. I have to email a lot these days and actually text and Instagram message quite a bit these days, just to pull the disparate parts of our society together to collaborate on projects. I’ve ridden the waves of emotions from elation to annoyance to exhaustion, and thank you to those who actually know me for hearing me chatter on and on about climate and mostly chatter on about my teen daughter.

I think about leadership a lot. I sometimes wonder why I am in the place and space I am in. I get exhausted sometimes, but mostly I know I am at the right place and where I need to be. I think about the future still, even though I try to be present in most moments. I have written this before, but I will remind myself. The greatest gift climate work has given me, is that is has blessedly slowed down time. In the almost two years since I left middle management, I have been living in a slower time sequence. I have been able to enjoy my daughter being 15.

I’m sitting next to her right now. She’s in a virtual meeting with like-minded girls from Bangladesh and Central Asia, and doing an “Impact Challenge” as part of the Harvard Youth Leadership Summit. It was a virtual conference that I think was competitive that is run by the Harvard College Program for Asia and International Relations (HPAIR). It’s really interesting sitting next to her and watching how these four girls work together. They are so collaborative! Animated! Shared space! Inspiring! This definitely gives me hope and gives me goals on how to better work in groups as well.

Leadership. What does it mean? It mostly means showing up. I was reminding my daughter that the time you invest/spend on something is important. Showing up and committed to something. She was so committed to this conference. She was worried about being late for it virtually yesterday. She was eager to get up this morning to meet with her group. This is a completely optional conference, and I’m so grateful that it ended up being a useful activity for her. She’s learning. She’s connecting.

And this weekend? I’ll continue to lead and learn alongside her. Lots of climate projects in the works. We have the vegetable sticker project which is mostly on indigenous food systems and we have an invested new premedical student. SB1137 kick off and rally is next weekend, and I need to be ready to speak and advertise to our group. Still organizing PHAC OC/LA and recruiting new members for our council. H3SD 2024 planning is going really well. There was some internal change over of some positions, so I need to email a new person and cc an old person to make sure we have funding. In the end, our family can fund it but it’s a big chunk of change and we funded a bit portion last year (which we were happy to do since it needed to be done!). So lots of wonderful things this weekend, and meaningful projects.

I’m honestly mostly happy our teen is home. She was on a school trip to Argentina. I didn’t want to post too much about it because of the carbon emissions, but she went and it was the truth and it was worth it for our family. We try not to fly too much. We are driving up to her state speech tournament which is Fresno. And our son will be home next weekend and I’m going to give him a big hug.

Thank you for letting me type nonsense and detail my thoughts, as I try to be part of this existential fight to address decarbonization and global heating. Hope everyone has a sustainable weekend.

Living her innocent 15 year old life.

March 3, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s interesting being at the intersection of generations. Mr. Plastic Picker and I had kids relatively early for those with graduates degrees. I had my two at 27 and 30, which is insanely early if you talk to most doctors. But that makes it interesting being a climate and health doctor now, because I’m at the peak of my professional career and influence with teenagers and thinking about their future. It’s so easy to be distracted by silly departmental politics or having FOMO regarding traveling to exotic locations, when literally the prospect of having grandchildren might elude me because fossil fuel companies continue to destroy this earth.

It’s true. I was with my daughter and celebrating her wonderful wins at the State Qualifying Tournament and she made finals in Impromptu and Original Prose and Poetry. Her accomplishments are remarkable and she’s in the mix to be part of that rarified world of kids at those schools who all know each other, and that can be influential. Especially as a former preemie baby, I don’t take anything about her life for granted.

But seeing her soar and win, begs the question – what about the rest of us? What about all of us in our 40s and 50s who went to those rarified Ivy League+ institutions with money and positions and power? What are we doing? We have already reached where these young high school speech kids are trying to reach, and what have we done with all that we have been given. I always remind my children that common adage, to those that are given much – much is to be expected. If I can guilt anyone of my generation to step up or ramp up their climate work, than that is actually the most impactful thing I can do. And I’ll be honest with the blog readership (and this is talking to the choir), I am vastly disappointed in a majority of physicians, pediatricians and adults out there. Obviously they don’t read this blog. But they listen to me speak. They see me parade myself around the blogsphere, and maybe even like an instagram post or two. But shame on you. I’ll be a big negative today, but absolutely shame on you. You can do more. You can absolutely do more.

When you have teens, you realize that despite the fancy dresses and despite the eloquent words – they are children. They are children organizing, and like Youth Vs. Oil – changing the conversation. And what have most physicians done? They’ve bought themselves a status Tesla and patted themselves on the back. That’s honestly what I think of most of the physicians out there.

But I have hope, because in reaching out to hundreds of colleagues, I’ve met a handful who get it. Who 100% get it. And we have big climate wins that I can’t fully announce yet. But I appreciate a certain ophthalmologist, a certain internist, a certain family practice physicians, and many many medical students and premedical students. When we are ready to announce some big climate wins on behalf of climate and health, I’ll announce it. I have to keep these two under wraps for a bit until they go through the proper channels.

Just wanted wanted the blog readership know that our teen did so well at her state qualifying speech tournament, and that Dr. Plastic Picker is still plugging away and organizing and recruiting. Thank you to all (mostly premedical students and medical students sadly) who have linked arms with me to do this vital work. And if I guilted you a bit, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. DM me, text me especially if you have an MD because there is so much for you to do, like I have a lobbying meeting coming up regarding wetlands and honestly it doesn’t have to be me. It could be YOU. I’ve been on the news and done enough public speaking that I’m 100% willing to share.

This is the true feelings of Dr. Plastic Picker. Who started off as a litter picking pediatrician. and now an eco-warrior!

Cool Instagram posting with a shoutout to me!

February 24, 2024

By Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear readers!!! I’ve been so busy emailing that I haven’t had the need (because sometimes my emails are super creative!) or the time to blog. But I’m back this morning and super grateful to the blog readership for following along my journey here in written form which is always more authentic, or on Instagram where I’m really a bit too silly!

But in all seriousness, it continues to be an impactful life – filled with patients, family and climate work. I just came home from early morning walking the dogs (we have my brother’s corgi too this weekend) and going to Starbucks with Mr. Plastic Picker. My husband said that I’m his best friend? He’s always called me that and I’ve never accepted the offer. I’m honestly still thinking about it LOL. Of course I’m his wife and he is the love of my life. But best friend? I’m not sure about that one.

I spoke at Protected Roots Integrative Treatment Center https://pritreatmentcenter.com/. How I happened upon that speaking spot was circuitous and a year ago. I had met one of the psychologist at Love Your Wetlands Day a year ago, and we kept in contact via Instagram. And I finally agreed and we found a time for me to physically come. But then I realized that on a Friday and missing clinic was going to be too much for me. Sometimes I tend to try to give too much. But I ended up being able to do a virtual talk for an hour yesterday during Friday lunch. And honestly knowing that they really wanted to hear me talk, and giving me the freedom to craft whatever talk I thought appropriate – it just made the entire day flow. Does that make sense? I got up early on Friday to prepare an almost new talk. I talked about my climate and health journey, but I felt it was this open forum to discuss some new ideas I had been thinking of. My climate and health journey and this meaningful work has led to better parenting and doctoring for myself, and I approach mental health issues for my patients in a more creative way.

New Agenda for the first time in a long time.
New slide I hadn’t used before

So it was mostly new images, but the thought processes and discussions were really good with this group. I spoke from my place as a front-line pediatrician, as someone who has cared for children over their lifetime. It was really meaningful to me, and I ended the discussion with “if I made you smile and I made you think a bit more, than I’m happy.” And honestly they made me think and they made me smile, so it made me so happy yesterday and it’s still spilling over to this morning.

So I’m up and it’s not too busy of a weekend! I need to write a letter of recommendation, write our SDPCA newsletter, organize a new PHAC Climate Actions Campaign Council for Orange County/Riverside, and send a lot of emails today. But it’s a kind of catch up weekend which is the best kind of weekend! Have a sustainable weekend dear green friends. Remember that it’s systems change so don’t stress over the little stuff.

UCSD Premed AMSA society.

February 17, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and updated the readership. It’s been nice to be able to document this climate and health journey on Instagram, because I can essentially make my own music videos. I think everyone is enjoying it, and I am trying to moderate how much I share and how much I post on that platform. I am writing a lot of emails these days, and doing general writing – so I haven’t needed the blogging outlet as much. But I wanted to be here and let the blog readership know that I’m still here. I’m still plugging away at decarbonization.

I was sitting at San Diego City Council Chambers last Thursday. I’ve testified many times virtually, but I had never been in the actual city council chambers ever before. It was a very interesting day. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, since I had a full morning clinic and the City Council Environmental Committee meeting started at 1pm. But I was able to make it, and find parking in ever crowded downtown. I sat next to my good climate friend Andrew Meyer from San Diego Audubon, as Rewild was there as well to make comments about the DeAnza plan. I was really there to support the SanDiego350.org Youth Vs Oil group, as they brought forth a city resolution to defend SB1137. They had asked me to support and I came because the kids asked. This is one of our top legislative priorities from the AAP California anyway. I feel honestly humbled by these youth activists. As I was telling some of my friends, it takes a lot for teenagers to trust adults and to have that trust means a lot and I take that trust seriously. So I made comments, after their presentation and I think they were impactful.

I more importantly need to do my part as an adult. SB1137 is an oil and gas setbacks bill, and indeed I’ve been advocating for this for the last four years. Our group San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air actually formed partially from a former defeat of a similar gas and setbacks bill, back when our state senator was Ben Huesos. Lets just say he was never a good friend of this particular pediatricians especially since he was getting so much fossil fuel money to fund his political career (at least that is what some of my climate friends told me). Well, Ben Huesos is gone and Dr. Plastic Picker is still around! And SB 1137 did pass and was signed by the governor, and now we are part of a statewide coalition to defend this win.

I’m continuing to focus on decarbonization, and have various projects deployed with many students. My good friend Dr. Anne-Marie Birkbeck Garcia and I were at UCSD AMSA speaking. OMG, that night was so fun! We were just talking about random things, and mostly about our lives and motherhood and being young doctors coming up the ranks together. I think our story resonates because we are both mothers with children the same age as many of the students that were sitting in the audience.

So just wanted to let the blog readership know that I’m around. Working on so many different projects, but it all seems to interconnect and make sense. But wanted to share a big one, which is defending SB1137. Thank you to all that have linked virtual and real arms with me, to try to fundamentally address this existential crisis of climate change and global heating.

Will try to turn off most of it this weekend, because my own college freshman is home. We picked him up at the airport yesterday and I’m about to drop him off at a central location so he can join high school friends for an esports tournament in LA. His baby sister made him homemade cinnamon rolls. It’s a sweet life we have, and that sweetness makes me even more desperate to save it from big oil.

My sweet son. Picking him up last night from a short flight from Oakland. He took the BART. Little steps.
Our other home.

January 21, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It continues to be a beautiful life of purpose and advocacy for me. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palos Verdes that I thought was a reasonable price, and there are other Prep School Speech families here as well. We drove up in our old trusty Prius and they drove in a Tesla. It’s a practical trip, to get our daughter up here for an invitational speech tournament. But it ended up being a small adventure that we are in the midst of enjoying. We had a drive up that took us beyond our home town of San Diego. I’ve never been to this area of Los Angeles, but I’ve heard of it. I’ve had college friends from this area, as it’s a bit of a ritzy area. We had sushi at a place across the street, and with just us three and the proprietor family – we watched BTS and Black Pink on the TV. There are a lot of Korean storefronts here and we drove by a Kumon. My daughter mentioned to me that she was glad we never did Kumon, and I didn’t subject her to that insanity. It was probably appropriate for some children, but for us – I had this blind trust that I needed to keep her body healthy since she was so sick when she was young and to make sure she had a happy and joyful childhood. That she’s done academically well in school, has been a complete bonus.

Indeed this weekend is a bonus. I never thought we’d get to be Prep School Speech Team Parents, and we find every part of it fun. The sushi dinner yesterday – fun. The gossiping about sophomore high school drama (which we are not involved in) – fun. The togetherness of parents and daughter in a smaller hotel space – fun. Wearing her green speech dress again with her new fancy earrings (that I splurged in a once and a lifetime purchase from Tiffanys) – fun. Dropping her off in the rain, and then again dropping two new umbrellas for her and wondering if she will have a kdrama moment with a handsome boy (they always have that umbrella scene where somewhere likes you and offers you an umbrella) – fun. And stopping by a local bagel shop for coffee and to split a bagel sandwhich, my husband and I – fun. And stopping by target to get a jacket for him – fun. I find it all fun, my life and also the activism.

The activism can be exhausting though. My students, former patient and fellow climate and health advocate Laisha Felix – we collectively did a wonderful job yesterday at UC San Diego School of Medicine. The conference and giving two workshops was a big deal! And we prepped and prepared, but more importantly we were sharing a real project that we did together that fundamentally helped with decarbonization and also address environmental racism in Barrio Logan.

This wonderful person named Laisha Felix. Future surgeon and daughter of Barrio Logan.

But the biggest thing this weekend was presenting and networking with the students at UCPRIME, thanks to my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. We were able to connect with three important advocates that we need from UC Irvine medical school. They are the missing puzzle piece that I need to continue advocating for the masterplan for climate safe schools, and also addressing leaded water pollution at K12 drinking water.

And the second biggest thing I did, was help Power San Diego establish a temporary auxillary office in North Park to try to bring municipal power to San Diego so that we can maximize rooftop solar. We are not going to be able to decarbonize fast enough with SDGE and SEmpra. End of story. We need municipal power and we need Power San Diego. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s a David and Goliath struggle, but for a litter picker like me – tell me it’s impossible and difficult, and I’ll jump right in to help.

But I’m enjoying the day and this weird life of mine. I’m enjoying my pretty 15-year-old daughter and the little make-believe dramas at school, and seeing her mature and grow up well. And I’m looking forward to every day with her, and every day I have to make small changes in our fight for a livable earth.

Thank you for following along on my journey, and I’m trying to be more mindful to take care of myself and also be more present on the blog. Green hugs to you. And thank you for believing in Dr. Plastic Picker.

Picture of the Physicians for We Power Event.

January 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The Physicians for We Power event went well. My contribution was lending out my house and backyard to be honest. I had to have the house deep-cleaned (we needed it!) and then ordered the food, and used all the connections I had to get about 20 people to our actual house. The event went well, and authentic connections were made. The wheels of activism and natural organic connections that will hopefully avert catastrophic global heating are happening. I am reminded and I remind my friend Prof Adam Aron, that we each are one person. None of us are responsible for this entire thing, but certainly we can do our share to avert the catastrophe.

It’s a busy climate week honestly, and most of it is done virtually. Tomorrow we have an event for New York State and it’s getting a lot of press! My friend Prof. Sandra Jee just let me know that the talk has been advertised in the whole entire state of New York! New York is a big state! Out team is ready to present and it’s serendipitous the team that we have put together. I think it’s honestly that I’m amusing and somewhat interesting. And I’m co-presenting with a UC Berkeley premedical student. There is something powerful about pushing the youth out in front. That I tend to attract more Asian-American premedical voices and opinions is a good thing, because we are still underrepresented in this work. Our presence is sorely needed.

I also have an EPA lead meeting today which is like 8 hours long! It’s crazy! How does the EPA expect busy clinicians to go to an 8 hour meeting? We formed a lead advocacy team but everyone is in class or working, and I also am working. But I’ll register for the webinar and at least make some comments. The lead pollution in school drinking water still drinks me literally bonkers. We are giving the virtual talk tin New York tomorrow, which I need to practice and make sure my friend Dr. Sandra Jee is proud of us! And then on Saturday, Laisha Felix one of our amazing students is co-presenting with me at the UC PRIME Statewide Conference!

And this week, I also need to really organize and push forward the programming for H3SD 2024 with my good friend Dr. Luis Castellanos. I just texted him to confirm we can do August 9 evening and August 10 for the main program for the Heat and Human Health Summit. I heard from Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action that sharing our agenda was very helpful for them during their heat summit that they did in the summer. It’s funny how sharing the work and ideas really helps, and not gate-keeping. My daughter often uses that word. No one is allowed to gate-keep. She’s really wise (and super cute!). I have to confirm budget as well for the summer, and I still haven’t received by money from last summer’s event. I know I’ll get it but $5K is a lot of money! The wheels of the institution that I work at does sometimes move painfully slow. But I know they are good for the money! Is that what I have to do? I know there is more.

I haven’t been as active on the blog, but will try to get back to you more. I’ve been distracted by this 1.5 year long other storyline that has to be private. Mr. Plastic Picker was being annoying yesterday and said I was emailing my penpal too much. But I’ve honestly led such a wholesome life and this is my one bit of fun, and I’m going to keep emailing until my penpal tells me to stop. It makes me happy to share little stories that are innocent and sweet.

And that is it! Lots of environmental health and climate work to do! Our little one is going to the climbing gym today and she was pouting when we got home yesterday after dropping our oldest up at UC Berkeley. Teenagers are honestly like toddlers. They pout for no reason other than trying to get your attention. And isn’t it great that she’s trying to get my attention and not some boy’s? I’m grateful for that mostly. I think it’s because I amuse her as well.