Plastic Picking Totals – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Plastic Picking Totals

Reusing this picture again. The last blog I left up, but the blog was painful to write.

May 11, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 608AM and our oldest will be getting up soon to take his AP Spanish Exam. He is such a good boy, a good son and a wonderful older brother. One thing I want to do different from my children is not to foster a sense of competition among them. For some reason and I was the worse at it, there was always a sense of competition among my siblings. Friendly and in good nature, but still there. I don’t want that for them. There are two of them, and when I am gone from this earth that is hopefully habitable – they will only really have each other. I want them to love each other and to support each other.

That is what I’m trying to do for our climate and health community in San Diego. My mentor Dr. Bruce Bekkar led his last meeting as Chair of the Public Health Advisory Council of Climate Actions Campaign, and I’m next up. Those are big shoes to fill, but I think I’ve figured out the role I’m meant to play. I’m meant to be everyone’s cheerleader, supporter and just to keep us connected and going. That’s the most important role I can play right now. It’s a very non-Crimson University skill. In fact it’s probably the one trait that Crimson University is horrible at. But I’m glad that trait remained nascent in my psyche and has been able to grow.


My cell phone screen shots.

April 30, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

OMG it’s April 30th today! It’s actually the anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the mass migration of Vietnamese people overseas after the communist takeover of the south. I call it Saigon, and if you call it something else – than obviously we have an issue with eachother. I didn’t notice the date until I started blogging this morning.

No one in my household really gets how important April 30th is. I love and live in a household of Koreans. This is not by design but by chance. Usually your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and I often wonder if this is why Mr. Plastic Picker and I were destined for eachother? It’s more likely he was cute and I was cute, and we were lab partners in premed biology. I can’t explain why, but I knew Mr. Plastic Picker was the one, because he smelled a certain way. It was definitely pheremones. But I often think of the colonial ramifications of our union that transecend the premedical sciences.

It’s the last day of April, and the anniversary of the fall of Saigon. It’s been a whirld-wind month of climate projects and work. Since Saigon fell, I ended up being born in the United States of America – having been conceived enroute during my parents flight from totalitarianism and communism. And then I ended up marrying a Korean boy. And this is why my children are half Korean/half Vietnamese but don’t speak much Vietnamese but love Vietnamese food. The same drama is happening all over the world, and now again in Ukraine. Greed. Limited resources. Corruption. It leads to people being displaced and creation of new alliances.


Team effort of my mother-in-law and myself.

March 5, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good Saturday Morning Dear Readers!!! It’s Saturday morning and we are not physically where we thought we would be. I can’t tell you where we are, but we are well and alive and together as a family. Sometimes it’s important to be off the grid. Just know that your local litter-picking pediatrician continues to live a sustainable life and living my truth. I drank match green tea soy latte and walked along a beautiful part of nature with Mr. Plastic Picker. We walked hand in hand, sipping our matcha green tea soy latte, and talked about the world, our family and our love.

I also made some big decisions about my own life and leadership journey, and it was the earth that guided me. I am so gloriously happy and know I am on the right path, that I smiled and laughed with joy. A patient on Friday said, “Dr. Plastic Picker! You are glowing today. Something is different. Is it your hair?” It was not my hair, although I have switched over to a vegan hair dye. It was a decision I made about my leadership journey that felt so right, that I knew it was meant to be. Much like the moment I saw Mr. Plastic Picker is the basement at one of our college dorms doing laundry when I was a sophomore. He was a junior. I saw him and I thought to myself, “that is the father of my children.” And that is the truth. We married 5-6 years later as medical students.


My plastic army!

Febuary 9, 2022

by drplasticpicker

I am always reminded that I am only Dr. Plastic Picker, if I am continuing to pick up plastic! This month has been a pretty good month since I’ve decided to clear out Dr. Dear Friend’s office and giving myself bags of credit when I recycle or clear out a big box. It really frees my mental real estate to have her office clean, and all that paper is getting shredded and hopefully making recycled toilet paper for us all. Half of the bags are definitely from the beach as well.

I’m trying to care for myself. Yesterday was absolutely overwhelming. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish all the things I needed to finish. But I did. We had our first official AAP California State Government Affairs Expert Committee on Climate Change Within our HMO I would have a practice manager organize all of this. But in the outside volunteer world, it’s just me. But most everyone showed up and we had a very efficient quick meeting and talked climate and state-wide projects.

And then I gave another talk for the HMO. I’ve been talking a lot around the HMO, doing the work work that I get paid to do. But I’m going to have a breather soon after Monday’s talk about HPV vaccine advocacy with a respected colleague at the Women’s Health Champion meeting. And then I need to remember that having Saturday’s big climate project completed was a huge thing. Saturday and playing our part of the Rewild Mission Bay Coalition was a big milestone for us. It was such an important thing to be there.

But yes I was tired. I felt overwhelmed at the end of yesterday. Plus I’m doing one last loan application for a rental property. This rental property is such a good buy, and it’s going to be an even better buy when we solve the Tijuana Sewage issue.

But reporting out to you, our dear blog readership, how many bags I am at really keeps me focused. If you want to see my lifetime totals since adopting this eco-avatar then click here! Yes I’m at 630 bags of plastic pollution collected and 1853 salvaged items.

I’m usually happy these days, but I think recently I’ve been neglecting myself. It’s so important dear earth friends to take care of yourself. I’m going to try to get to the beach today and do a bag. Those bags are the most restorative. But I was tired yesterday and a bit frustrated. I told Mr. Plastic Picker – I may just finish my 1000 bags and disappear into the night. But that was the darkness speaking, and now it’s 542 AM and the sun is about to rise and Dr. Plastic Picker is reborn. I’m even helping sell Girl Scout cookies for my daughter this morning.

So here is January 2022 totals and proof that Dr. Plastic Picker picks up plastic! Sending green hugs to all my plant-based friends, those that eat lots of plants and those that are plants.

January 2022 Plastic Picking Totals! 22 bags and 27 items!

Aluminum Cans3Recycled
Plastic Bottles1Recycled
Glass Containers1Recycled
Office Supply Items7Upcycled

Click here to see how many bags I picked in the subsequent month!

Bag 608 and 609!!!

January 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Please forgive me dear reader because I did not meet the monthly bag picking total this month. I usually set out to do at least 20 bags but this month picked up 12 bags. It was December and my need to get outside and reconnect was less this month, because I was reconnecting with the Broca and Wernicke’s area of my brain that controls the Korean language part. I pretty much binge-watched all the relevant Korean dramas on netflix and I’m done now. Yes, I can be a bit obsessive. But I think it’s because my Broca and Wernicke’s area of my brain were on fire. I was even picking up some North Korean words from “Crash Landing On You.” Really good drama, Korean or otherwise, by the way. If you love good love stories without the gratuitious stuff and more of the emotional scaffolidng and traditional values, I highly recommend it. Plus the North Korean captain who multiple time sacrifices everything for the South Korean cosmetic CEO who mistakenly lands over on the North Korean side of the DMZ zone via a freak Wizard of Oz-esque toronado during a paragliding trip is really handsome. Just a big sigh when you think about him, and her, and their entire improbable romance.


21 bags for November. Not bad!!!

by drplasticpicker

Even green “friends” can be unkind. What does it mean when someone tells you “You clearly have energy” with a certain tone of voice and expression? I was at an HMO Green Team meeting and I heard those words. I know we have competing pressures on our time, but my friends and I were there essentially on our free time. This is not one of our paid positions. And this particular person is paid to do this. It’s part of their job description. Does it mean “you clearly have energy, but lack clarity.” “You clearly have energy, but lack authority.” “You clearly have energy, buy lack direction.” “You clearly have energy, but are unable to articulate.” I know in my heart that is not what that person meant, but in my mind knowing that comment was directed at me who was the most senior woman leader there in that particular tone of voice – affected me. It’s funny how these running dialouges we probably all have in our head and we all bring our own particular histories to these make-believe scripts.

But my friends were there, and the meeting was productive and I’ve know been able to vent some of my frustrations here on the blog. Meetings and committees are all difficult. But we moved the work forward by stating our case that we needed some help, and we’ll move forward with the other person assigned to our work.

So here I am back on the blog, and dear reader – thank you. I haven’t posted as much the last month but the traffic has been steadily rising still. I can’t believe I’m at 596 bags of plastic pollution averted! Salvaged 1810 items from landfill. Click here to see my totals page!

November 2021 Plastic Picking Totals! 21 bags and 46 items!

Aluminum Cans14Recycled
Plastic Bottles12Recycled
Sand Toys0
Flip Flops0
Clothing Items2Donated
Glass Containers3Recycled
Tennis Balls0
Swim Goggles0
Office Supply Items14Used

Honestly every month I come back to the blog and I know I’ve trudged forward. I’ve trudged forward toward my goal of 1000 bags (wow 596 bags is a lot!). And I’m trudged forward in my efforts to save the planet. I irritated some people yesterday at a meeting, and they irritated me back. But I know they are green friends and even green friends that say non-ideal things want to save this earth. And then I had a fun and very impactful meeting with AAP Climate Change and Health friends from our new super-cool committee (State Government Affairs!!!) and we discussed some upcoming legislative stances we want to take. We divided up the work and went forward on more climate work.

It’s so important to fill up your earth-agent/green super hero tank with goodness. yesterday was watching some K-dramas and practicing my Korean. It was silly but fun. I’m drinking matcha green tea soy latte, and I’m looking outside our wet backyard with the rainbarrels having caught as much rain from the sky as possible. I’m happy this morning because mother nature watered the urban rooftop garden, watered the backyard container garden, watered our front garden, watered the HMO parking garage succulent garden, and she’s working so hard. She’s working to cleanse the world and heal. For me this is a spiritual journey as well as a practical one. It’s practical because I want a liveable planet for all our children. But it’s spiritual because I know we are part of this larger cosmic battle between inaction and action, hopelessness and hope, disinterest and attention, fatigue and energy, good and evil. You have to choose which side you will be on. I choose the light. I choose hope. I choose action. So maybe when that person said “You clearly have energy” she saw my light. Please dear readers and go forth and be part of the light. The darkness is coming. It threatens to overwhelm us, but you can choose the light.

The Green Dragon that is our HMO has awoken, but it needs to wake up a little faster.
This organization gives me hope. Donate to them or Rainforest Trust if you can.

November 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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


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

November 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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

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

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

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

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

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

This one was a group effort!!! I didn’t take credit for this one!

October 16, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I was driving from a particularly long and grueling Friday clinic day yesterday. Finished late but I’m used to later, but it had been busy. I emailed the leadership team which I am a part of my dissatisfaction with the current scheduling changes. It’s best to be honest, and I had very little to do with the initiation and implementation with the scheduling changes. Partly because in my quest for wellness the entire thing was giving me a headache from the get-go and the entire conversation surrounding it during meetings seemed nonsensical. I think the entire thing started with someone up in the LA region and then kind of spread like a fad thing to other areas, and then somehow our department got swept up in it. It’s no one’s fault but it’s a hot hot mess and I was not pleased yesterday. I was tired and irritable, and my well-meaning lovely clinic tried to have me celebrate my birthday but we fueled ourselves on really unhealthy food. I happily ate but I worry about them. I eat so much plant-based and home-made food now that one day of salt and pepper chicken wings, chow-mein, and cake is fine – but that is not the case for most of our clinic. I mentioned to my lovely friends that maybe we should take birthday walks together instead and enjoy cake outside and some matcha green tea soy latte. Indeed, I’m pretty good at whisking the soy milk now so I’m volunteering to make it for everyone. I want us to heal and to be healthy, and work can absolutely be a place of healing.


Locating the next project that we are working on.

October 15, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Happy Friday morning! I tried a few new things recently. Yesterday I had old mushy bananas again, but there are only so many banana bread muffins and variations on almost vegan banana breads that my family and the clinic can eat! I’ve done banana/mango bread. I’ve done banana coconut bread. I’ve varied that recipe so much, that it was time for something new. So I just Ecosia searched “what to do with mushy bananas” and a banana pancake recipe came up. I’ve heard about banana pancakes before, and I’ve made several variations which were okay. I’m not sure why yesterday worked so well, but yesterday I made 2 batches of banana peanut butter pancakes and varied the recipe yesterday and they were 100% out of this world. My in-laws, the kids, and Dr. Dear Friend were in complete agreement. They didn’t look perfect, but they tasted great. I even used the last remaining bits of my home-made vanilla flavored peanut butter. Maybe that’s why they turned out so well? I checked back at our clinic lunchroom and the banana pancakes were gone. Now that is testiment that they were good. And the interesting thing is that honestly, yesterday was a combination of ingredients and circumstances that those pancakes will never really exist again. I’ll try to replicate but I kind of made them by feel. I ommited the oil. I added more soymilk. I added a bit less flour. I didn’t even take a picture of the pancakes, but the memory of their fluffiness and how it paired so well with the matcha green tea soy latte that Dr. Dear Friend kindly bought for me at Starbucks, will be a memory that I will revist when I revisit this blogpost.

With that, I did want to stay true to the entire purpose of this particular blog and my adventures. The entire point is that I’m supposed to pick up plastic (which I did last month almost 30 bags! – but I do owe you a blogpost update) and also to make secondary environmental changes in my life. We live a pretty sustainable life now after I started this blog several years ago. We compost almost all of our green waste and thanks to the amazing combination of forces that are the bunnies that we love, and their poop – our Aerobin400 churns out this magical organic compost that fuels our garden. We eat mostly plant-based and not that much meat. Although yesterday we had just boxed frozen shrimp and tater-tots, but that is honestly once every 4 months or so! We consume less of earth’s resources. Yesterday was the first time in a long time we went to Target, and we went it to get what we needed and left with what we needed which was hopefully more sustainable gifts for our teen daughter’s friend and our daughter’s first real bathing suit. She looked so cute in the two she picked, and I’m so proud of how I’ve raised her to have a positive body image and to love and appreciate herself. This blog has helped me figure that part of my life out, and helped me be a better mother to my duaghter.

It was a magical day yesterday. I watched an exciting school volleyball match with our kids’ school’s rival. Our team lost, but it was such an exciting and well played game. They forced them into the third set, and it was very close. Our daughter was all over the court and communicating, and playing assertively but together with her team.

We had so many environmental wins last week, and the warm glow of knowing what collectively we did is really amazing. Several friends that I “activated” into climate and health activists, are working on their projects including various writing projects and presentations. I’ve cheerleading them from the sidelines and making small and helpful suggestions. Our big two projects are the Rewild Mission Bay work still with a local advocacy meeting soon in November and a blog piece coming out on the Climate for Helath Blog.

But here is why I started writing today. Just 10 secondary environmental changes I did specifically because I knew I had to be accountable to this blog’s readership.

10 Secondary Environmental Net Positives Due to Being DR PLASTIC PICKER!!!

  • 12 showers averted (that’s on average 240 gallons of water)
  • 1 bag of bad produce from the lunchroom fridge brought home to compost
  • 9 coffee grounds containers from friends that I collected to compost
  • 1 bucket of compost gifted to a friend for his fig tree
  • 1 rug/mat salvaged and cleaned from when we did the Coastal Clean Up at the Chula Vista Boat Launch
  • many many succulents that I’ve propogated planted at the HMO parking structure and at my brother’s office in North Park
  • 1 yearly planner purchased that is all of recycled content. This is one of the most important things I do personally. I like this planner as it’s functional and I can find it at my local staples and its made of recycled paper and plastic. It’s more expensive but its one of the few things I go out of my way to purchase and wait for. All the fancy planners made of virgin paper and fossil fuels? I laugh at you! New I will not buy! I support the circular economy.
  • 5 succulents I gifted to children which kind of inspired our San Diego wide Great Succulent Give Away!
  • 1 car trip averted from my clinic office to the sister clinic office, because I didn’t have time and I didn’t need to rush, instead I gave the plants that needed to be gifted to Dr. Dear Friend. It didn’t make sense to spew the carbon since she was there anyway.
  • 1 climate friend I’m trying to help breastfeed her first child. Its a small but important thing for us to support eachother.

Well, thank you for reading and helping me stay accountable. Last blog in this series was in July. Click here if you want to see what I did!

last shot of the succulents that we gave all over San Diego, trying to show children that we cared and to promote a more sustainable life and world.