Dr. Plastic Picker – A Personal Plastic-Picking Blog: Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution One Piece At a Time
She crocheted me blueberries! And a basket!

July 4, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I swear I’m getting better! I’m not posting pictures of our daughter as much on social media and she reprimanded me recently. My excuse is that I worked a lot when she was younger and now I’m enjoying so many of the “firsts” that I want to remember each moment. I wasn’t there when she rolled for the first time, or when walked. And even if I was there, she was a sickly enough kid and I was a stressed out young pediatrician mother that the joy was overshadowed by worry and stress.

But it’s great being a bit past 45, and not yet in menopause and having a daughter that has such an interesting life. She is so sassy and sweet, but it’s her life and I’m taking the backseat on her narrative. It’s her likeness and her image, and social media is different for the teens. They have to be careful what they post and who likes it, because there is a whole social milieu that does not involve parents. So today, just pictures of her crocheted basket and blueberries!

Happy July 4th everyone! I can write about it here because not many folks read my blog anyone. THANK GOODNESS! It’s a particularly special July 4th because my brother-in-law is finally home after a 9 month deployment from the Navy. The state of the world is complicated, the War in gaza, climate crisis, and upcoming election. I actually don’t try to think about much other than the climate crisis and environmental pollution (and oh my day job of actually clinically taking care of children), but I know that it’s related so much of it. I couldn’t post on Instagram because I was getting hateful comments about the military since I’m mostly in the climate world on Instagram. But here, I can say it. My brother-in-law is a hero and he’s home. He kept the Houthi’s out of the conflict and saw more combat that anyone since world war 2. We still need our military. There is Russia, North Korea and China. If you don’t think you need the military, look around your house and think to yourself – you don’t think someone wants it? Our lives are pretty nice in the United States of America (yes for very complicated exploitive and colonial reasons) but we aren’t solving things overnight and we still need our military to protect us. Because other countries also have a military. So he’s a hero and he’s been awarded a bronze star, and he’s home and safe and I’m so so grateful.

And today I’m going to try to go for a jog and keep my heart rate up for at least 30 minutes. Had some big climate wins yesterday and a lot of legislative movements, but today I really just wanted to remember the crocheted blueberries and the basket she made me. And that my brother-in-law is home with his two children and his wife (my sister). And that I went for a jog, and spent the day with my children.

Sometimes life is that simple. She is my climatewhy, so thank you for listening about her. I really want grandchildren which is why it bothers me so much that there is global heating and an existential threat to humanity. I hope you have a relatively low carbon holiday. And all of us (including you) should really fly less. It’s really unfair. We’ve definitely reducing our travel.

French creek on our farm.

June 22, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

We are back home and our oldest will be back tomorrow from Japan. So we’ll be rejoined as a family for a glorious two weeks before our youngest goes off for a month long camp in the LA area. We are so proud of her. She worked inordinately hard to be admitted to the honors summers arts camp, and she’ll get to live out her dream of “nerding out on ceramics” for a month. She’s an artists at heart, and I love that so much about her. But we’ll miss her for that month. Life does not seem as lively when she’s away. I never thought I’d enjoy having teenagers so much, and this last year of having them both 19 and now 16 – I am going to completely revel in it. I want to make every day count.

But enough about my kids! I wanted to think through this idea of reconnecting systems. I find so many metaphors in nature. But this is where I was thinking of reconnecting segments of our community, and realized that combating global heating is actually literally reconnecting systems. And it is in the most unusual place.

We bought a large tree farm in Oregon and the property is huge. The house is beautiful and has a kitchen nicer than my kitchen in San Diego. There is a large creek that is the Upper Cow Creek that is part of the Cow Creek Watershed (I think). I spent 3 hours with a very smart conservationist from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Service and we hiked around parts of our property and chatted for 3 hours. It was one of those meandering conversations but focused on our property qualifying again for the Riparian Habitat tax relief program. Essentially if you do things to preserve Riparian habitat, you don’t have to pay property tax on some acreage. The money is not that much for us, since we are FISE (Financially Independent to Save the Earth). But what I learned was invaluable.

I learned that the most important part of our property for Riparian habitat was not where I expected. I guess the main creek is in pretty good shape. We have to plant some more shade trees to shade the river, and willow and cottonwood are good. But probably some of the native pine species would be better. My new friend mentioned the Ponderosa Pine in particular. Like from that old western show Ponderosa!!!

We want to replant several species and not have a monoculture. Most people tend to just plant a lot of willow since it grows so fast. There are already a family of beavers on the creek more upstream which I forgot to tell my new friend the biologists.

Okay! Just sent the email “It was so great to talk to you Amy and I’m still processing everything we talked about and what you taught me. Just before I forget, I talked to my brother Daiuy who is up on the property now.  I forgot that further upstream of Upper Cow Creek they had seen a beaver dam and beavers. So there are some already on the main creek. On French Creek south of the area we were looking at closer to the road, there is sometimes a pond that forms there. So it’s definitely wet a good amount of the way. I had forgotten but during the fall and winter it’s usually there.”

I learned about floodplains and that it’s sometimes important to create manmade channels to reconnect floodplains that have been disrupted by agriculture for decades. We already have logs on the property that might be perfect material to reconnect the floodplain. I hiked with this wonderful new friend and she pointed out the native species that I had no idea about.

Oregon grape is my new friend. Here it is!

So many plants I need to learn how to identify. But more importantly I know now the big plan of what we need to do. It’s going to take time and patience. But essentially the main Upper Cow Creek runs too hot most of the year, and reconnecting the creek with the floodplains on our property and the French Creek which likely has colder water during the winter and fall – will be important to try to bring up the number of juvenile coho salmon.

I’m so grateful for this interesting life that I’ve stumbled upon. I just finished talking to my good friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman and our conversation was jam packed with climate work and updates, but also meandering about the people we love and worry about and our dreams for ourselves, and our communities. And interwoven between us are so many people and stories, especially students that we mentor. I am forever grateful for making that connection with her, and in some ways I think I was always meant to meet her. Like I’m grateful I met you dear reader. I hope you seek to reconnect to someone today. I truly believe that reconnecting is a metaphor but also physically reconnecting. I’m hoping to head out to Missouri soon to see Dr. Friedman and I’m going to bring Dr. Dear Friend as well! I want to see what’s up with this biosludge stuff.

wild daisies

June 20, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s our last full day on our Oregon farm, and we head back to our life in Southern California tomorrow. Today I’m meeting with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife OFW office, and one of their fish biologists. We have a Riparian plan that we need to finalize with the state of Oregon in order to continue some tax breaks we get for not developing an area of the property that has vital riparian habitat.

This climate activists life has led me here, to Oregon. There is no way to hide from climate change, our entire way of life will change. But we can all do what we can, in this chaotic reorganizing of society. This isn’t a climate bunker because the forest that surrounds us is likely to burn from wildfires at some point. But it was a way for me to deal with my climate anxiety. If I can just save these 200 acres, than I would have done some of our part. I remember when we flew out here during the COVID pandemic when travel finally opened up a bit, and we were up in this place during May. The ground was so healthy, and there were large birds of prey flying overhead. Knowing how degraded much of our earth is now, I realized how precious this place was. We “own” it but how does one own anything? You can’t “own” anything because our time on this earth is limited. I’m not afraid of death, because truly that is in the end where we are own destined to end up. We will be returned to the earth, and then I believe reborn again.

But for this time that I am here, I’ve decided one of my roles is to safeguard at least these acres. We’ve had movie companies approach us to film movies, that would have brought too much foot traffic to sensitive habit. We’ve had odd offers to grow wasabi from very wealthy people because the water is so clear in the creek. We’ve had multiple offers from some sketchy people to grow what we think is marijuana. Who wants a random acreage in the middle of a forest to lease? You must be doing something sketchy. So our family has decided to leave it for the fish and the salamanders and the earth.

Life is so busy that as a part-“owner” – we’ve only been able to come up no more than once a year. But it’s a blessed time that allows me to re-center. Every time I return, I am reminded how important the work that I am doing in San Diego is. And what we do in southern california, will help preserve places like this. And forests like the one that surrounds me, is doing it’s part by preserving the life that our species has decimated. There are baby deer frolicking around the property, a family of squirrels living in the old stone outdoor stove – every morning so busy. I love that squirrel family. If they had an Instagram account, they’d 100% go viral. But we’ll leave them to live their lives. The badgers, the mountain lions, the bears, the bald eagles, and the deer – we need to leave them some space. The concept of Rewilding is so powerful. But we can only rewild places, if we make our urban lives wonderful and filled with community and love and green spaces – so that the ridiculous suggestion from one of my patients to build a town in this secluded plot doesn’t come to fruition. The last thing we need is another town, where rich citizens flock and pretend to be eco-conscious.

We are just normal doctors that managed our money right. We still work and I have to return to our lives back in southern california soon. We can only keep this property if I continue working. I was so close to quitting years ago in the midst of my burn out, but I am so glad that I did not. Because I did not quit and got better, I have gotten to live this interesting second part of my life trying to fight for our community and climate. My daughter got to pick wildflowers on a farm that our family owns, and sat quietly on our porch and made a crown of daisies. Just like I try to protect her, I believe if we all work in our own ways to better society and address decarbonization – we will pull together as a community and weather the worst of this.

I still have so much fear and anxiety, and those of us in the trenches know that. We know about the catastrophic heat waves coming. We know about the heart disease and kidney damage and premature birth that is caused by global heating, environmental pollution and air pollution in particular. But being here calms my fear. I can still enjoy today. I can still enjoy a crown of daisies that my daughter made, because I know most days I have done so much to help move legislative work in California to address environmental pollution and climate change.

Just thoughts as we end our last few days in Oregon. Thank you for letting me share my journey. And I hope this blogposts finds you well.

June 18, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I can’t describe it any other way. There was a thunder storm of mucus in my left ear on both legs of our flight to Oregon. We are back on the farm after a year and a half. We own a large tree farm almost ranch up near the Cascades. I caught one of the worst colds of my life last week and had to call in sick for two days. It only equated to one day of sick leave, as I was only half days those days. But after working extra PE clinics and a Sunday call and just being around sick kids, at some point we all get sick. And I got sick. I thought I was better, and I certainly am from the fever and the body aches. But the mucus was intense in my left ear. And then on the ascent and descent from the airplane, the mucus decided to obey the laws of physics and responded to the ambient pressure changes. I had the most intense ear pain (otalgia) I had ever had on my plane trip. And then upon landing and not being able to hear out of my left ear, the mucus finally partially cleared and I could hear again. But honestly, the only way I can describe it – was it sounded like a thunder storm in my left ear. Twice I heard the thunder storm in my left ear, and suddenly I was able to hear again. It was such an odd experience.

The teen being my fashion model.

June 16, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s been a long moment since I’ve been on the blog. Apologies dear readers. As many of you know as we interact on other platforms, it’s been a June that none of us could have predicted. When you look back at last June, did you think this June would have happened?

I’m continuing to try to be impactful for the climate, and realizing it’s organizing bigger projects to move the national conversation. Mr. Plastic Picker is worried about the upcoming election, but strangely I am not. I guess I have somewhat tunnel vision in that I just want to play the role I’m supposed to play, and do my part. And the projects that I am working on, because they are all volunteer and usually with students and within the healthcare sector, are not limited by national politics. A lot of climate work can be done whether it be one political party or the other in power. The earth is neither conservative or liberal, the earth is the earth. Climate is climate. And I’m always grateful we live in a democracy (albeit imperfect).

This morning I have to finish two advocacy projects, finish calling the last 5 remaining legislators for sb1197. This is the leaded aviation fuel bill that is making it’s way through the different committees. Despite having some premedical students on the team, it’s hit or miss depending on their schedules. I get it. They are young. It’s graduation and many of them are moving home, and starting their summers. But one of the medical students is calling 5 of the legislators which helps quite a bit. It’s nice to do these advocacy projects together.

Then there is sb1137 which is the KEEP THE LAW gas and oil setbacks bill, and defending this win. There is a very large state coalition working on this. But locally, I’ve been helping to mentor a high school student Daniel Hernandez who is actually from my old high school (go Bonita!) and he has been doing very well. He’s linked with two large climate organizations and a good public speaker, so now has some leadership positions. I’m reminding him to pace himself and be strategic in his efforts, because he needs to also make time to apply to college and be a teenager. But I’ve linked him up with another post-bac student Kiran Rhodes and they are going to try to co-author an op-ed in the Chula Vista papers on SB1137. Likely we will win on this as there is a lot of money being donated state-wide to this effort, but it doesn’t hurt to do our part in our local municipalities and it gives a good student op-ed writing experience.

There is the fossil fuel divestment bill as well, SB 252 which directs the public employee pensions to divest from fossil fuels. Both AAP California and the Public Health Advisory Council for Climate Actions Campaign supported it last year. It did not pass. This years bill, we both support. So I just emailed the groups and got a consensus, so will draft a quick letter with some fancy signatures and send it off.

What else? Oh the H3SD 2024 San Diego’s Heat and Human Health Summit is well on it’s way to it’s second iteration. This summit was born out of so much love and passion, and me wanting to make connections in San Diego. I’m still waiting to hear about HMO funding for it, and my good friend and old medical school classmate Dr. Luis Castellanos has the medical school on board. But waiting and waiting for funding is really silly. I’m sure they will come through. But our family has committed to about 10-15K if our HMO bails. I’m used to working in big organizations, and for us as a dual physician couple who understand the true nature of climate change – it’s worth it 100%. But I hope they pay up because their name is all over this! I won’t tell anyone that we paid, but it will be an open secret in the climate and health world locally. Just in case any of them read this blog. It’s honestly somewhat embarrassing the way I have to go grubbing around for money in the world for climate work, when the world wastes so much money on many things. Like the number of managers in our department have ballooned yet things are being managed more poorly. Does that make any sense? I never see any of them around. Yet there are more of them.

Oh well. I’m just in charge of myself these days, and the earth.

Our kids are doing great! We don’t fly unnecessarily, so only our son is on his epic trip and he’s in Japan but staying there for a long time. It’s almost 3 weeks and we are so grateful for this. We are headed up to Oregon to our farm, and much needed time just Mr. Plastic Picker, myself and our teen daughter. We’ll hike around our pasture land, and meet up with the fish biologists as we have a Riparian Lands Tax credit since we are not developing any of the land – but especially not the special land around the riverbanks. A large creek that comes down from the cascades goes through our property (the Upper Cow Creek) and it’s important for fish habitat. I believe they are going to demo the Galesville damn near us soon which will be great for the fish. It’s exciting to have been able to buy that property and to make sure it does not get developed. Some one asked me is we could just build a town there, and I looked at them confused – because why would we do that? We are supposed to infill our urban areas and take public transport, and then leave these wild areas wild so they can continue to sequester carbon.

Thank you for letting me chatter on about life and the continued climate work. At UCSD the San Diego Union Tribune said the students did not really react to Al Gore’s speech. It’s not that they don’t care about climate change, 100% they do. It’s just that they don’t trust the admin who called police on their friends, and who wants to cheer on a speaker who doesn’t even know them introduced by a chancellor they no longer trust. It’s hard to earn back the trust of people. Just random thoughts when I was reading the SD-UT. Indeed, this June is not the June we would have predicted a year ago. But it’s the June we have, and I’m grateful to be alive (because I was really sick last week) and grateful to be able to blog.

Sushi at a New Place.

June 2, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I loved seeing all my classmates’ Harvard 25th reunion pictures! I know many of them had not seen each other in years and it was good to live vicariously with them as they transversed the campus and took pictures of spots that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I felt like I was drinking with them at the Hong Kong, despite having only been there once in college and not actually having drunk there at all. I am so glad to see Harvard through their eyes and lenses. I was sleeping next to my Harvard, as Mr. Plastic Picker and I were both alumni – so I told him that between the both of us that was Harvard enough.

I was planning on going to the Harvard 25th reunion but my body was really tired, and it had been more of an emotionally taxing time than I let myself realize. Earth Month and all the speaking engagements were taking their toll. For some reason I ended up in Tuscon AZ speaking at a conference, and it went well and I was meant to be there – but I was away from my family and alone and had to travel. I prepared a new talk, and met all these great people – but for an introvert it is fundamentally draining. There were more speaking engagements. Then the premedical students need advising, and they are wonderful – but they sometimes ask too much of me. As I advise them voluntarily, I have to set limits and let them know what is appropriate to ask for and what is inappropriate. And some of the requests were inappropriate. It’s okay for them to ask, but I have to say no and teach them why I have to say no. That is part of the mentoring. The newsletter for our group came out, and we were busy doing the good deeds that need to be done. But for all those reasons, and my mother-in-law having a stroke, my son has alternate travel plans, and I’m trying to save vacation days for other important things – I decided not to travel and I’m glad I stayed home.

It was such a wonderful weekend honestly. I’m trying to re-boost the composter to start hot composting again. I got some coffee grounds from Vons/Starbucks and I’m hopeful that will do the trick. I need to add more water to the composter as I think it’s kind of dried out. I am deep cleaning the house and making multiple runs to Goodwill and donating things at the library. It feels really good. I am at the point that I don’t think anyone is going to read my collection of the Black Stallion books! So it’s been given back into the free circular economy so that hopefully we all start to consume less. I got stuck behind the Goodwill truck in an alleyway, and was just thinking of alleyways and that I’m not sure if the AlleyWay project that one of the UCSD professors is doing makes much sense. People get kind of possessive of their alleyways. I helped my son make a graduation card for a party, and we wondered if he would come home versus spend the night at a friend’s house. He came home last night, and I saw him in his bed and I was so happy. I am going to wash his curtains today because they are so dusty.

And most importantly I got to be here this weekend, with my family. We had dinner at my brother’s house and I saw all our boys that are so tall and growing into good men and handsome – get ready for their cousins trip with their cool uncle to Japan. We laughed so much that night, and I made jokes and we had memories together as an extended family that are so important. And our nieces from New York are coming in August. They asked to come for the week, and of course they are welcome to home into our home. I told them last summer that our home is their home, and that they can visit anytime. I’m so grateful for that.

If I had gone to the reunion, we would never had found our new sushi place. So I missed you all that were at the 25th reunion, but it was kind of like missing the classmates when they would go out on the weekends and I would stay home and study. I was always more of an introvert anyway. I have a lot of climate homework and family homework to do. If that makes any sense.

Beautiful cards from Audubon.

May 25, 2024

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s amazing how many climate projects our family is involved with or has donated to or a part of. Some of them are more controversial and not everyone agrees with how to decarbonize, so I don’t want to hurt folks feelings and don’t share some of it. And some of them are because of personal connections that are so complicated but innocent, that I only tell close friends. Being emmeshed in climate work locally has been a wonderful thing. I feel so connected and loved, and I’m able to give forth love.

And that’s what our family felt yesterday. We have been embraced and we embrace the wonderful people at the San Diego Audubon Society. We went as a family to their 75th anniversary gala. Mostly I’ve been working with San Diego Audubon by bringing a healthcare voice to the Rewild Mission Bay work. But under that umbrella, met so many wonderful organizations and amazing conservationists and climate minded people. When you fight for something you love together, it brings you closer to really wonderful people.

There were so many wonderful people there yesterday. And we are so grateful we went.

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.