Beach Cleaning Reminds Me Our Lives are in Overconsumption Hyperdrive
June 11, 2020
The beach was a mess with morning. I had not been out near our stretch of Pacific coast for a few weeks. When our city lifted some of the COVID-19 restrictions, the beach was flooded even in the early mornings. Since I still have to work in patient care, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to expose myself. I have been doing litterpicks around my neighborhood instead. I’ve wandered over to the elementary school and the Mormon Temple which is a good hike from our house when I was looking for adventure. I started traveling to find certain flowers like the fried-egg poppy as a destination for my litter picking walks https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-plastic-pickers-thoughts-the-age-of-in-betweenness/. I have noticed more backyard birds like the Yellow Warbler or it may have been a lesser finch perched high on the electrical wires with a beautiful blaze of yellow against the blue sky. I was walking with Mr. Plastic Picker at the time.
But going to the beach and picking up plastic there is better for my mental health. No, that is not true. It’s not better, it rewires my thought processes differently. I cannot explain why but I can describe the results. Litter picking on the streets is still important, but I have more grandiose thoughts during those days. I’ve been blogging about important topics like leadership https://drplasticpicker.com/raising-leaders-random-thoughts-about-work-my-kids-and-my-patients/, and a lot of posts about the kids and trying to raise them. But honestly, I was getting a bit too grandiose for myself. The plogging session this morning was much needed.
The beach was an absolute mess. Two bags of litter, 3 aluminum cans, 3 plastic water bottles, a flip flop to be made into a trash art piece, 1 pair of swim goggles, and a pretty red sand toy. That was collected within easily 5-10 minutes. Usually prior to COVID-19 it was not that bad. I don’t know what has been happening at the beach these days since I haven’t been there. But since it was decently empty at 530-6AM in the morning, I’ll return tomorrow and clean some more.
Now I remember why the beach resets my thought processes. It’s because of the quietness yet constant variation of the waves. It’s because of the novelty of what I find on the beach, and the way my brain focuses on small little pieces. Litter picking in the neighborhood is more monotonous. And with all the things that were salvaged today that brought my total up to 672 items salvaged mostly from the ocean’s edge! I always find those totals and the things I find ridiculous. It prompts me to stop buying things and stop our own family’s overconsumption hyperdrive.
I have a week and half off for vacation, and will use this time to rather than overconsume – I will try to reuse and repurpose and decrease food waste. I brought home another old science poster I had spents weeks on and a few hundred dollars printing. But I am going to use it to line a few more kitchen cabinets. I am going to use the cardboard sturdy tube from the same scientific poster to make little holders for Mr. Plastic Picker’s iPhone chargers and earbuds. We throw them into a container and the wires always get tangled up. I saw a similar project on YouTube and it looked easy enough to do. There are frozen blueberries that need to be eaten, and we are going to use the last bits of pancake mix. We have been eating down the pantry, and it feels good to reduce our food waste. Since COVID-19 we have stopped really buying food at Costco and now mostly shop at Sprouts and our local Vons. I still need to make that birdhouse for my mother and I need to give her some of our premium birdseed as well. I think she is getting lonely and it would be nice for her to have some bird friends. I’m sure I will think of a few other reusing and repurposing projects. I’m grateful for this morning’s plogging session that gave me that much needed reminder to not overconsume our earth’s resources.
Litter picking and beach cleaning is also a good way to keep me humble. Thank you for following along with me on this journey. It’s sometimes hard to stay humble since I am in a niche category! I’m the only beach cleaning pediatrician eco-warrior trekkie around! And now I’m a soon to be published trash artitst! Ocean Plastic Baby , Mixed Media Art/Vaping Pens is going to be used in some of our regional newsletters. But in all seriousness if others join me, I wouldn’t mind being part of a legion of hundreds of Dr. Plastic Pickers. That is why I’ve never copyrighted the name or monetized this blog. It belongs to all of us. And it’s for the earth.