Sustainable Life – Page 3 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Sustainable Life

How I felt yesterday after a few folks sent “helpful suggestions” to some work emails.

March 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Wow, 1499 things that I’ve salvaged from the landfill and redeployed into the human circulating economy of things that we use. #1499 single things that had use, that were going to be thrown away. You can always check out my Plastic Picking Totals Page that details it all


Propogating Succulents

March 1, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I spent most of the weekend puttering around the house and gardening this weekend. My friend Dr. Jill Gustafson referred to it as my urban farm, which I guess is a really cool way to think about it. I need to update the blogpost I wrote about her as the picture link does not work anymore. I might just use a picture of the cool hand-made soaps that she has been working on or the 3D Boston Puzzle she leant me! Sharing is caring folks, and Dr. Jill Gustafson cares about the world and everyone!

Back to gardening. I think it is when I read Project Drawdown and the emphasis on the emissions of the agricultural sector, reading about the power of plant-based eating on reducing climate change and looking at myself and my influence as pediatrician that takes care of kids who need to eat better food that made me realize what the gardeners around me had known all along. If we want to save the world, we have to do it by regenerating the soil and eating more locally and plant-based. And what is more local than your own urban garden?

I was updating our financial spreadsheets and remembered it kind of all started when we sold our “extra car” which was a Honda Odyssey Minivan. It actually went to an old high-school friend for a bit below market rate $4500. But not only did we get that money and avoided paying the yearly DMV fee which was about $150 or so, but we gained all this square footage of concrete pad in the back. As I began to transform that area into a container garden, I realized I had room for the Aerobin 400 composter that I had always wanted. And then the success in our backyard pad led to me venturing back up onto our roofdeck and now creating a green space up there. Between walking in the backyard and then up and down the spiral staircase, I’m getting a lot of steps in.

It’s been a beautiful process. I’ve planted beet greens, radishes, onions, and chia microgreens successfully. It might have been just a few plants, but given that I did it on my own with guidance from my mother and mother-in-law – it made those dinners especially meaningful. I’m also working on succulents and I was inspired by a friend’s house and her succulent container front-porch area. I bought hybrid aloe plants that are doing really well, and continuing to collect and propogate succulents gifted to me by people I love or that I’ve found in our own front yard or sometimes a stray succulent that has broken off itself and I will gather on my litter picking walks. I know it sounds silly but at those moments, I feel like a forager – although I’ve never foraged for food and I don’t think I’ll get to that point! Although I admire them whole heartedly.

Got some deals at Costco! Wow 3 succulent large planters were $16. Citrus tress were $25 each!
Lime tree planted in the front by my mother-in-law. They are so happy.
Buddha Hand tree! We used to have one in our old house in Kensington. Now we can have one again. It’s a fascinating tree.

And then there are my adventures in composting! We harvested our first compost this weekend and I’m so happy. I check on my compost everyday and either turn it, or water it. With the Aerobin 400 , you aren’t supposed to need to do anything – but I have fun with it. And the more I harvest our compost, the more the top level sinks and I can add more scraps. I actually don’t have enough scraps so I’ve asked my little brother to save vegetable scraps for me! He lives in a downtown condo so no yard space. I need to buy him a kitchen compost container for under his sink but I need to know how tall. I’ll call him today.

Compost. It is so cool! I made dirt! Made something out of nothing!.
Plants love compost.

And in the end, my family will be eating even more nutritious food all powered by this regenerative process that is the composter, our own urban farm, and a sense of regeneration and wellness in our lives.

I gave my mom that huge funny looking radish that I posted on Instagram, and she was delighted and happy. She said the gardening is good for my mental health. It definitely is. Maybe I would not have gone through that dark period in my professional life when I was so stressed and sad and hypervigilant and irritable if I had been a gardener then? But going through burn out led me to the beach, which led me to declare I was going to save the world, which led me to gardening which led me back to my mom and mother-in-law and back to our own waste in our house now miraculously turned into soil. For each of us, we have our own journey and what I have most learned from all of this is to live in the present and not let worries of the future the “what ifs” destroy the joy of today. This is Dr. Plastic Picker, your pediatrician being present with you fully today and during your clinic visit.

The radish this weekend was so funny!

Radish with the guardian chickens who are named Marilla and Rachel Lynde. Yes I’m an Anne and Green Gables mega-fan.
I don’t think this one is a puffy/airy as the last one?

February 6, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I have nothing TO DO this weekend. I will probably DO a lot, but I have nothing TO DO. I even put my work text messages on BUSY. Not DO NOT DISTURB just BUSY. I will finish Fridays charts this weekend, and probably do a couple of patient follow up calls. But even with the climate work, I don’t have anything TO DO. Last week we gave UCSD Family Practice Grand Rounds and submitted an abstract to the Journal of Applied Research in Children. So a lot happened.

And it is Saturday morning and even the kids don’t have anywhere to be because it is quarantine still. Last night I came home late from clinic on the later side, but not as late as the Friday night before. Our daughter had a Girl Scout meeting at 630pm and their father picked up sushi with lots of plastic packaging, as the kids requested sushi. I guess the carbon footprint from sushi isn’t that much because at most it’s little bits of fish. So we had sushi while our daughter was listening to her Girl Scout meeting and I went to bed early. Even with a normal full clinic day, work is tiring. Dr. Dear Friend had a very irate parent and multiple child protection issue cases, and she had a harder clinic day than I did. But it’s hard these days at work because of all the saddness when our families come in. COVID-19 has particularly hit the hispanic and southbay communities more, and this is where I practice. This is where I grew up.


I do everything in the stand mixer bowl. Less mess. Ready for dinner tonight.

February 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Slowly but surely I’m getting to the 24 hour pizza dough rise. The original recipe was the bobbie flay recipe, but I’ve done it so often now and added my own variations that I feel like it’s my own. Plus I use it as a food waste recipe to use the last remaining bits of flour. Today was 4 cups of flour (2 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour), 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 package of yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and sprinkled rosemary AND thyme (the thyme is new). The sensory experience of kneading the warm dough in the relativeness darkness of the kitchen is very relaxing. It’s set on the kitchen counter covered near the cookbook area, covered with the pretty green beeswax wraps.

I have a full day of clinic today, and I may or may not have to show up at our Girl Scout meeting. Girl Sccouts is a whole other blog topic. But yesterday I wasn’t that helpful after clinic because I was tired still from the emotional elation of the UCSD Family Practice Grand Rounds entitled “Creativity, Wellness and Climate Activism.” I stopped by to thank Dr. AF for his honest and powerful presentation. But I’ve learned to self-care in a fundamental way. So last night I was napping on and off late afternoon, and then our tween daughter wanted me to toss the ball to her while she practiced volleyball. I was feeling tired initially but it was something important to her. So I self-elevated my mid-40s body off the couch, and threw her the volleyball again and again and helped her practice setting and spiking. I’m amazed that she likes volleyball, personally I’m scared of a ball hitting me. I think it’s because I wear glasses.


Rosemary that I asked for, from a friend’s bush. We bartered!

January 25, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s 542am and the wind is howling. It’s raining in Southern California, and it’s much needed but unusual for us. Having lived through multiple droughts in our sunny state, I’m always grateful for whatever rain we can get. I spent last night updating our finances and refining our goals. I thought I had neglected things of late, but everything was fine. We are in tip-top shape financially and have some medium sized investments that we will make soon. It’s funny how the hard-work and foundation we laid out fifteen years ago are paying generous dividends. Personal finance is easy now. I had mentioned on the KevinMD podcast that it helps to be financially independent, and I wanted to check if that was true for our numbers. And it actually is. I could stop working now completely, and we would be fine without my income. But that has never been the point of financial independence, it was more freedom from someone else or some other entity being able to control me.


I honestly really grew this all myself, and my family ate it!

January 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It wasn’t enough to make an entire dish, but I grew it. I grew it all myself. The shallots were from the store but I saved the ends and just stuck them in some water. I chopped them up, and put the bulbs in my container garden. The radishes and beet greens I planted from seed in my container garden. I did it myself. I sold our Honda Odyssey Minivan, turned our backyard concrete parking pad into a minicontainer garden. This took learning how to sell the Minivan myself and filling out the DMV paperwork. Then after selling the minivan, taking multiple trips with Mr. Plastic Picker to Home Depot to buy the containers and soil. I had to clean the entire area. I moved an old outside rug that had been upstairs on the roofdeck for over a year, and very dusty. I vaccumed the rug and carried the heavy thing downstairs myself. Then I moved the patio furniture around, and a chair over to my mini-container garden area. Suddenly a small wicker end table appeared, my mother-in-law brought it out from their stash. I bought seed packets of radishes and beet greens. I bought them because I want to start eating them more, and I read that they are almost impossible to mess up. And then I started gardening. It’s been a multi-month process. The parsley I tried got riddled with these unknown bugs and I have no idea what they are. But finally, yesterday – it was time to harvest.


It’s so important to plant things. I need to set a good example. I was standing at the local taco shop across from our clinic, and Dr. Dear Friend and Dr. MM and I were buying lunch. Then Jupiter Ascending was playing on the screen. That movie is a closet vampire movie about this god-awful sci-fi fantasy about people harvesting souls. It’s horrible and now a cult classic. I want to be a creator of life and I don’t want to live forever young. I am happy being middle-aged and wise (but with lucious hair from my new HiBar shampoo bar!). So I am trying to plant a garden myself for my children and myself, and to set a good example for my patients and the world. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. Succulents that people have gifted to me in the past have died in my office.


First Christmas Hike.

December 26, 2020

by drplasticpicker

It’s not too late to create your traditions. The holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) were always a painful time of year for Mr. Plastic Picker and myself. It may have been for you as well. When we lived in Boston and had our son, we were still immersed in the university life and still trainee physicians. We had the MDs but not the salary nor the marketable skills, nor the scheduling freedom. Little did we know that scheduling freedom is really a mythical unicorn and does not exist. But every holiday the grandparents would disappear from Boston to New York City, as Mr. Plastic Picker’s sisters were in New York with their chaotic lives and the chaotic cousins.

On the holidays if one of us was actually off, someone would stay home with our then one child. If either was working, we sent our son with his grandparents to be with the chaotic cousins. I remember distinctly this one Thanksgiving when he must have been about two, when we both had Thanksgiving off and the grandparents were gone. We lived in a very small apartment and of course we didn’t know how to cook yet. Free Thanksgiving Dinner was provided by Crimson University at a select number of dining halls and we went to Adams House. This was Mr. Plastic Picker’s old undergraduate House at Crimson University. Honestly the dinner , although well made and delicious, was always kind of sad. Crimson University for all it’s glory was still a faceless institution, and we sat there eating with our toddler son as graduate advisors with a roomful of other sentient beings living their lives and really wishing to be with others that were not us.


Food is so important, but so is exercise in moderation.

December 19, 2020

by drplasticpicker

Exercise is important. I haven’t blogged about exercise other than plogging much because I self-identified as a runnter for over 30 years in my life. Exercise like managing my finances has always been easy for me. I’ve trained for marathons, run more than my fair share of half-marathons – and my fastest mile time is not bad at 5 minutes 15 seconds (I think). My half marathon time was also very decent, but it’s not important anymore. I didn’t blog about exercise because I needed to learn more about the earth, mindfulness, stretching my body, centering mt body through yoga, slowing my mind enough to notice the birds (there is one perched on our hammock right now a Black Phoebe) and actually I really needed to figure out how to cook. Above was yesterday’s project which was a Vegan Omelette with Besan (chickpea flour) which was a success.


I really like them.

December 9, 2020

by drplasticpicker

This blog has always been about helping us live a more sustainable life. I had a particularly creative day yesterday making four mini-figurines partially from gathered ocean plastic waste. I had made them during one of our middle management meetings, along with a tofu container turned soap dish, an iPhone cradle (actually two), and a robot with a plastic brain. I was really pleased with myself and sent pictures of my mini-figurines to everyone and posted in everywhere on Facebook. I got some reactions from folks, and hopefully raised some awareness about plastic waste. I was creative at breakfast and sauteed some bell peppers and placed it in a warmed pita bread with a bit of real mozarella cheese for our teen son. I used to give him so many Eggos, and it is satisfying to give him something wholesome, vegetable-filled and non-processed after all these years.


Beautiful sky. It was there all along.

November 23, 2020

by drplastipicker

Everything is on the internet. My father taught me that. If you can wade through the disinformation, you can just about Ecosia (not Google) anything. Supplementing it with real-world advice from friends and experts is good. The reason you can learn everything and anything on the internet, is that the internet is just a virtual echo of us.

I’ve tried to do yoga in the past, and it just didn’t work. I would open my eyes and peak at the others around me. I can’t exercise in a group. I just can’t. This is why I’ve always been a solo runner and a solo beach cleaner. If I do group workout sessions or group litter-picking sessions, I don’t feel restored. Fundamentally being with others depletes my energy. I’d rather be alone. I’m fundamentally an introvert. This is the polar opposite to my younger sister. This all makes sense now. I blog in the early morning and in the silence of my kitchen. She started a podcast at her kitchen table chatting with her neighbor, and is rejuvenated from this.