Weird Things I’ve Found Litter Picking – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Weird Things I’ve Found Litter Picking

Even those “cheaper” grabbers at the dollar store work fine.

August 31, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m at bag #534. I gathered two bags yesterday waiting for our daughter to finish her volleyball practice at Salt Creek Recreational Center. It’s a beautiful riparian habitat around the field, and I walked around the perimeter of the field that borders the actual creek. There are wild places even in suburban areas, and I gravitate to the wild places and views. I heard birds at the edge of the playing fields and the sounds of insects. I tried to gather the pieces of human litter that were close to the wild places, caught within the protective armour of the reeds and wildgrasses. The plants and the trees were trying to keep our plastic out.

I’m halfway to my goal now. My goal is 1000 bags of litter. I’ll post this months total later, but it was a more productive month than what I expected. I walk up the slopes and inclines where others forget to look, and find the debris of our lives. I have to believe I am making a difference. My activism is very literal. I have to see that I’m doing something everyday. I need to see the litter. I need to see that I am removing the pollution. I have to see that I’m helping bring back life to our earth, and have to see the carbon sequestering into the soil.

Every bag has been meaningful. It’s helped me figure out my life, and has helped me figure out how to help the earth. No matter what happens, at least I have a hobby now that I enjoy. As I was telling a patient I have to keep on being a doctor too, because I’m Dr. Plastic Picker not Mrs. Plastic Picker or Miss Plastic Picker or Hey You Plastic Picker. And a doctor needs patients including the earth.

Refinishing Furniture.

June 20, 2021

by drplasticpicker

430AM is so much better than 245AM. My sleep cycle had shifted with everything that was happening, and I had been getting up too early. I was getting sleepy during the afternoon and then napping. That was not safe especially when you have to drive home in the afternoon at around 2-3pm when one’s cortisol hormone level is at the lowest (thank you 2/3 endocrine fellowship!). But working through things, I am better now and 430AM – 5AM is about the normal time I wake up. So I am better and the world is quiet, and I can do some climate work.


Chair I’m working on! I rotated the picture several times and this is the least disorienting.
Six chairs “rescued” from the alley. No police yet at our house. I promise officer, it was in the alley for 3 days! I saved it from the landfill. It was going to become methane!
The going rate for new chairs. Mine are going to be nicer!!!! Equivalent to $1600!!!! Ca ching! Ca ching!

June 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I really just wanted to show you the pictures of the new-to-me rescued chair project I’m working on. I saw them in our alleyway as the neighbor two doors down is moving away. I think it’s actually their renter that is leaving as there is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in the back. I think that is what it is called? They have been leaving things in the alley for people to pick up. This set of chairs has been there for 3 days and I’ve always wanted to try to refurbish furniture and I decided, why not???!!! In the dark of night (actually it was about 8pm) I walked over to their part of the alleyway (which is safe folks) and transported three of the six chairs over to our house. I left 3 thinking I only wanted to try three. Next afternoon when I got home, my father-in-law had grabbed the other three! LOL LOL LOL. I honestly know that it would have been discarded. The paint was pretty worn. But the wood underneath – these are solid furniture pieces. Nothing loose. Made of solid wood. I’m really excited! I started sanding them yesterday just to try, and it’s working out great. But without the proper equipment respiratory and proper safety googles, I stopped.


You can’t make this stuff up. I saw this yesterday on my beach plog on the way to Tourmaline.
Left the motorcycle but recycled the cans.

May 17, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction, or even my trashart. I gathered bag #455 yestserday and it was a reused pita bread bag that was filled with wet plastic bags mostly washed up on Tourmaline Beach. I hadn’t really meant to head to the beach but I’m glad I did. It’s always an adventure. I wanted to start jogging more, so naturally ended up in my spot and did a beach cleaning amongst the rocky shore. I saw a beautiful snowy egret. They are a rare sight and only come feed where the kelp is left in it’s natural state. Where there is kelp, there are insect and remnants of crabs and other crustaceans. The “beach” of the white sand is really not natural. There is supposed to be kelp. The surf-rake removes it for us humans so we can recreate (and I mean to use that word in a new way). If it was up to me, we’d leave the kelp and the beach would be for the beautiful birds like the snowy egret.


6 months that thing was sitting there. 6 months.

February 20, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I usually want to present pretty pictures of nature and trash art for the readership. But yesterday I dragged this plastic large thing (I think it’s the underside of a car) from the corner of the HMO parking lot to the trash can near this hidden back patio where employees eat. I dragged it there and gave myself 3 bag credit. I’m at 13 bags of trash now, and I committ to 20 bags for the month. Honestly, around my neighborhood is pretty clean and I get to the beach about twice a week at most. I have a lot of environmental projects to do, and since I really am trying to save the earth – I’m taking the easy way out and picking up trash around the canyons and the HMO parking lot. And there is a lot of trash.

I had time at lunch yesterday to go on a walk with Dr. Dear Friend and we visited the baby succulents. She was tired and feeling sad, because a dear family member is very sick and in hospice. We are all going through life struggles and it’s important to hear our friends. So we walked up the HMO parking structure and I leant her my water bottle and she squirted some water on our succulent babies. We chatted and we were just together as colleagues and friends. The succulent babies are doing well, and you can check out Instagram to see how they are doing. I usually post at least once a week photos. They are succulents so they don’t really need to be watered. We are planning on planting trees up there and some succulent fairy gardens.


One of my friends bought one. I thought about getting one. But do we really need one?

December 7, 2020

by drplasticpicker

Mr. Plastic Picker was sitting at the dinner table last night. He had worked another 12 hour overtime shift on the weekend. He was able to work from his home-office and the shift was not bad. I did not work other than catching up on a few messages and results. I’m really good about turning things off on the weekend now. Between Friday night at 530pm and Sunday at 4pm, really as an outpatient pediatrician I should not have to check my inbox. So I haven’t and it’s been fine. When I do check it, my brain is more efficient and I’m able to close charts and deal with clinical matters more efficiently. A good and focused brain is a really helpful thing. Plogging, eating a plant-rich diet mostly home-cooked, making trash art and sleeping better has really healed my brain. I was part of a UC Berkeley Premed Honor Society Career Panel yesterday, and I knew I was almost as smart as their undergraduates doing MCB (their acronym for Molecular and Cellular Biology). Super nice kids.


This was a gift Dr.Jill Gustafson left for me on my office desk, and it smells wonderful.

November 16, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I honestly thought I was the only one who was a bit off these days. I chalked it up to post-election euphoria dysphoria. You know the feeling after being so happy, and then you crash emotionally. I was it a semi-catatonic state and only able to blog and tend to my vinegar and plants (which since I’m planting radishes – doesn’t require much of anything). I was able to finish clinical care, but my imagination and motivation for bigger projects both at work and with the climate began to ellude me. I became incapacitated with worry two nights ago because I worried about my right 2nd toe. The medial side of my toe had a paronychia and it had became inflamed. I was worried it was becoming infected and upset at my feet for once again giving up on me (I have had plantar fasciitis and achilles tendon issues and chronic ankle instability). Why was middle-age doing a number on my poor toe? I have been trying to treat my feet well with good shoes including two sturdy pairs from Goodwill and a new Nike Air-Pegasus sneakers? Was it the litter-picking? Was trying to get an extra bag that morning while street picking too much for my toe? I was mad at Mr. Plastic Picker for not caring about my toe, and glared at the puppy for loving Mr. Plastic Picker more than me. That night, I just scrolled through Instagram and worried about my toe. I could do nothing more for the earth nor for work, because of my right 2nd toe paronychia. I ended up applying some peroxide to the area and trimming the nail, and went to bed.


One of 3 Rosemary Bushes in our HMO parking lot.

November 10, 2020

by drplasticpicker

Did you know that Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis commonly known asĀ rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.” I had known these shrubs on my walks around the parking lot, and I had seen bees around them. But for some reason yesterday I really noticed the plant, and broke off a few branches to smell the leaves. Indeed, it smelled like Rosemary. I thought they were native, but they are a transplant from the Mediterranean that has a very similar climate to our little corner in Southern California. This is a wild growing cultivated plant. Just reading the Wikipedia page there is a long history of it’s journey during Greek and Roman times, through Europe, and finally “Rosemary finally arrived in the Americas with early European settlers in the beginning of the 17th century.” Then at some point it arrived in a little hidden corner of our HMO Parking lot.

I know that the particular non-descript HMO complex I work at was built about 30 years ago. Rosemary plants can live about 30 years. I wonder how old this plant is? I wonder who planted it? I love Wikipedia. It details the history of Rosemary and “In Don Quixote (Part One, Chapter XVII), the fictional hero uses rosemary in his recipe for balm of fierbras.” What is the balm of fierbras? “According to a chanson from 1170, Fierabras and Balan conquered Rome and stole two barrels containing the balm used for the corpse of Jesus. This miraculous balm would heal whoever drank it . . . Don Quixote mentions to Sancho Panza that he knows the recipe of the balm. In Chapter XVII, Don Quixote instructs Sancho that the ingredients are oil, wine, salt and rosemary.” When Don Quixote drinks the balm of fierbras, he vomits and sweats and is healed from it. Sancho gets diarrhea and is nearly killed from it.


October 17, 2020

by drplasticpicker

An Original Poem

Large black plastic shards of a collision

Corner of Law and Mission Blvd, #1 intersection of violent crime

Cleaned and turned over, the plastic a dull grey

Scratches like the markings of a shark or wounds from an encounter

Green Hindfoot is the deep green of a large durable piece

The rat’s foot burned in the beach blaze, the sand welded into the plastic – forever

Red bottle cap eyes

Hello, Dr. Plastic Picker I am your #plastic-rat, plastic creature of your nightmares

I will follow you around the garden wall, under the leaves of your mother-in-laws squash

No one believes you Dr. Plastic Picker. No one follows you Dr. Plastic Picker. Who are you to save the earth?

You made me Dr. Plastic Picker. Plastic Rat of your Nightmares.

“This too shall pass!” said the toy figurine on the beach.

August 3, 2020

by drplasticpicker

It was a nice weekend. I was on-call for Chief Boss of Pediatrics, as our real Chief Boss is on vacation. No one called me. Actually I did receive one call, and I answered it relatively quickly and emailed the new pediatrician the link to the workflow. I had emailed everyone prior to the weekend, “Hello Everyone! We are a well oiled peds admin team, and we play an excellent passing game and try not to drop the ball. We are each covering our areas while XXX is on vacation. This weekend if you need Peds Admin help I am on for all of us from 7/31 at 5pm to 8/3 8am. My strengths are staffing, HR issues, clinical questions for outpatient level care and keeping us in budget. I will try to be as helpful as I can regarding COVID workflows. As many of you know I’m not the best at looking to see if membership services approves certain things, but I can certainly try! So thank you for all you do and I hope people who are not working can try to rest this weekend.” Signed my real first name. I thought it was a nicely worded email, and not as sarcastic as they used to be. No one emailed. I also did not send any work emails this weekend, which I think is a good thing. As I was telling my high school friends when we met for a Zoom reunion, I am trying to set a good example.