Trash Art – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Trash Art

Took apart an old J Crew Dress shirt for tags and made some trashart too.

July 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Despite the expression on my trashart winecork friend, I actually had a really nice day yesterday. Most of the day was taking our oldest and myself down to the HMO clinic where I work. It’s further than other offices from our home, but since I work there I prefer to go to where I feel most comfortable. We had a very nice visit with a new optometrist to our group. She was very nice, and around my age. Just joined up, and asked me how long I had been working at our HMO. I told her honestly, “twelve going on thirteen years” and each of those years I have been grateful for.

Anyway, we both got our vision evaluated and ordered glasses. Our son got two pairs and I got one pair. It was fun watching him while he did not know I was watching him – select two frames. He chose two hipster like frames, one square and one round and made plenty of funny faces at himself in the mirror. The only thing Mr. Plastic Picker and I get for having two physicians as part of our medical group, is that we do get double vision coverage. So our son got two pair of glasses. My prescription is so high and I need all those fancy things they provide, that I got one pair. It was a fun experience, and we went to Home Depot afternoon. I bought mulch to hopefully spread around my HMO guerilla gardening project. It was only $3 but I’m hoping it will help keep the succulents alive. That’s what one of my Instagram litterpicking friends said.


This morning’s trash art.

July 3, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Good morning everyone. I am so happy to be on this earth with you. I truly am. I hope my trashart this morning makes you smile, and shows you how much love there can be in the world – that all creatures are beautiful. We are so lucky to be alive. I am lucky to be the human me, the doctor me, the mommy me, the wife me, the environmental activist me, and even the middle-management me (despite my ranting yesterday LOL).

More views of my new friend.

What I love most about this trash art piece is that it incorporates that ubiquitous corner of the the kettle corn chicka boom popcorn bags Mr. Plastic Picker buys. We are not plastic free at our house, although we have made great strides in our waste reduction. Yesterday was a particularly good day because I talked to an FBI agent, and that agent brought some more closure to a patient case that were lingering in my mind and I closed all my charts. I CLOSED ALL MY CHARTS!!! Now that is something to celebrate indeed.

Coffee grounds from the HMO coffee shop.

I even had enough time despite an overly full panel of patients yesterday to see my friend at the HMO coffee shop to get the coffee grounds for the day. It was a heavy bag and it went right into the composter. I now know that one of my friends who is an RN sometimes will get the coffee grounds when I’m not there. It is so beneficial for the environment that it just makes so much sense to me to use it for the garden. That is methane averted from the landfill, and it makes beautiful black compost gold for our garden.


Gift from a dear patient, so I know what day it is. They are very dear to me.

June 19, 2021

by drplasticpicker

My baby sister texted me to ask me if I was okay. I’ll call her later this weekend and touch base. I had a really difficult child protection situation this week, that I’m still kind of processing. But it was an exhausting 48 hours emotionally for various reasons. I’ve learned that for me in my 40s, it’s better to imagine myself like gumby rather than teflon in terms of the emotional burdens we carry as healers.

Dr. Gumby 6 inch Bendable Wholesale
From the internet.

I had cried the entire night home after that day in clinic, quietly though. I had processed some of it with clinic friends. I was able to parent my children and get a fitful night of sleep. I had a slight headache the morning afterwards but able to send our monthly newsletter with joy. It was so pretty. I made some trash art which was helpful.

Upcycled coffee pod. Mr. Plastic Picker decided to donate the Keurig.

The trash art piece really helped me. It’s the Wooga Wooga man. Trying to scare bad people away. I imagined myself this creature when I was a child. I realize that now. Making scary facies to scare the evil away.


Yesterday’s trashart. I naturally organize by color and shape.

June 13, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It was such a lovely Saturday. I didn’t blog yesterday. I think that’s why the trashart was flowing yesterday. I’m still using bits and pieces of the ocean beach plastic from eco-services of Mission Beach Cathy fame. I combine it with winecorks donated by my real life friends and then “clean” trash from around the house. I think I must be thinking about Christmas, and also in general I tend to make happy wine-cork people.

But yesterday was really lovely when I sit and reflect on how things were. We did go shopping for our teen daughter’s best friend’s unbirthday present (inside joke) at Barnes and Noble, but I put back the single-use expensive gift bag. We instead wrapped it in the pretty paper the World Wildlife Federation sent us, and ribbon that was essentially “new” that has been in the house for many many years. I also had two books in hand, but I put them away at the last moment. I realize there are so many books at home I haven’t finished reading and these days I prefer my own thoughts and writing/blogging rather than other people’s voices in my head. I started rereading “You Are Here” by Thich Nhat Hanh which not surprisingly resonates with me since I was essentially raised within a philisophically Buddhist household that also practices what Westerners term “ancestor worship.” I am essentially a Westerner but I find the term ancestor worship inadequate. On one general information webpage writes, “The Vietnamese accept as a fact that their ancestors continue to live in another realm and that it is the duty of the living to meet their needs. In return, the ancestors give advice and bring good fortune.” It’s more like the ancestors are here. They are living spirits. Not acknowledging that they are here, is like having someone literally sitting at your kitchen stable and you don’t talk to them, acknowledge them, consult them or even feed them. It’s just rude. It’s not even really a religion, it’s just a reality. The ancestors are here literally right here. Why not ask their advice? Why not have them in your dreams help you fight your demons? Duh.


Big eyes. Trusting, Sparkly. Ready to go.

June 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

These trashart wine cork figures were super interesting. I didn’t intent to make them but my mother-in-law was salvaging some housewares from a neighbor. These were part of some old wineglasses and they fell off. And then I usually mount the winecorks on a large bottlecap for stability but I didn’t have any in my trashart area – but I noticed this old ruler that comes with those planners. The plastic ruler made a perfect material for the base and then I saw a face! Anyway, I think they are so sparkly and fun and wide eyes. This is actually my “clean” trashart from stuff we find around the house or when people drop off stuff at our house.

I’m not sure where I got the Starbucks green ubiquitous stirrer? I actually don’t like Starbucks coffee as it’s way too strong. I’m sure it was Mr. Plastic Picker.

We are going ahead with the Oregon property purchase still. We had a very odd interaction with our realtor. Let’s just say it was really weird, but in the end of the day we think he was having a bad day and is an honest person and likely it was a misunderstanding. Who knows about people. As a pediatrician, I know there are so many layers to people and families that what you see is 100% absolutely not what you get. This is a business transaction and in the end his professional responsibility is to represent our interest as well. He is getting paid dual commission. I always remember that when I see patients. They are the ones either through the parents employers, the goverment or someway – they are the ones paying my salary. I treat them professionally but with that consideration. It’s good that we are experienced in this because I think it would have spooked other people. In the end it is about this property and we see the value and we 100% got a good purchase price and we aren’t going to haggle over a few hundred dollars. It’s really important to be able to walk away from things and I was 100% willing to walk away. I told my family member, “If you want to kill the deal than I’m fine with it. We look somewhere else.” But we’ve looked all over the western US and Hawaii and this is a good deal for us and for the earth. So we will proceed today,

It’s a good reminder that real estate is not for the faint of heart. It looks easy but it can be stressful. I was a bit stressed yesterday as I called the realtor, called the home inspector, talked to my family member. We had questions and we needed them answered and we needed them explained to us. The ability to listen and explain is really important. I think that was our realtor’s problem yesterday. He was not listening and he did not explain. But I’m good at asking and needed to clarify certain things about this property, and I was reassured talking to experts like the well person and the home inspector. In the end, the realtor is just the realtor. He may have sold this property several times, but he doesn’t own the land. He’s not lived there.

So as I review the fundamentals of his property, my heart is at ease. I’m friendly with the well person. It’s actually the woman who own’s the company that inspects wells. She seems really nice. She gave me advice about the well.

And with that , have a wonderful Friday everyone! I hope you enjoyed the wine-cork people today. All of yesterday I was reminded that as a kid my family member (who I’ll just let you know is my older brother) and I would go camping all the time. That is what our family did when we were kids. I think this is why the property speaks to us both so much. I remember going to Yosemite when we were kids and we would hike and clambor over rocks all over the place. There was this one time he was a teenager and we were climbing over this one rock, and it seemed kind of dangerous. He said, “just pretend to be spiderman and get down flat on the rock.” And we did. We prentended to be spiderman and we got over that natural formation. It was scary, but fun. And in the end I trusted him. At some point you have to trust. No matter how great the realtor seemed, it may have been smoke and mirrors. But I trust my brother and I trust my family. I am everything I am today because of my family. We are all very close. And with that trust, and together we will go forward with the property purchase. We trust in ourselves. We trust in our abilities. We trust in our love of the earth.

Now that I think about it. I’m SOOOOOO EXCITED!!! We are going to be FARMERS!

Thank you Troop 3936.
Thank you Chloe from Troop 3936.

June 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Finley is really neat. Finley is from the imagination of about eight third-graders from Girl Scout Troop 3936 based up in Carmel Valley. Finley tells the world and all who walk by “Lend A Hand, Clean The Sand.” Finley only exists because we all decided to take a risk, and become connected as a community.

Finley’s body is a found boogie-board on Pacific Beach that has been sitting in our house for a long time. Finley’s hair and most of the plastic that makes his happy face are recovered ocean plastic pollution from Mission Beach recovered by our local celebrity environmentalist Cathy. Finley’s arms and eyes are from one of my street litter picking walks in Pacific Beach and was a Michael Bloomberg election sign. That sign was so interesting that I didn’t just throw it away. I honestly find some plastic pollution fascinating. How wasteful our lives are. But the sign after sitting in my house for over 6 months, I realized is made out of plastic 5 and can be recycled. So I cut some parts to use, the two Os from Bloomberg’s name to make the eyes for the trash art piece and two longer pieces I thought for some signage. Troop 3936 decided to use them as arms instead. Those arms are inspired.

I think trash art is really fascinating. As I was telling the girls during the meeting I ran, that trash art is great because it’s trash and you can’t mess up. Also it tells you a lot about the minds and hearts of those that make it. I would say looking at this trash art piece, the minds and hearts of these third-grade Brownie Troop are open and loving. Finley has his arms open and he is trying to embrace the world. His environmental message is positive and upbeat and hopeful. He does not say STOP nor DON’T. He says LEND. He does not tell you to think about the abstract existential crisis. He is very present and reminds us to be in the present, jand he simply says look at the SAND and you will see what needs to be done.

So Finley is my friend now, but is part of Troop 3936. After stopping by virtually at one meeting and now meeting to do a litter pick, a round robin “trash reflections” together and making this trash art advocacy piece together – I told the girls “I’ll keep Finley at my house and he’ll come with me when I do group beach cleans. But if you need him back, just let me know. I’ll bring him in whatever shape he is in and I’ll fix him if something falls off.” And with that I made a committment to these young eco warriors that I would care for their art piece just like they cared for the earth yesterday by picking up plastic pollution. I told them that pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics really care about them and the earth.

Yesterday was a really fun morning. I’m a pediatrician and I really do like kids. I’d rather spend time with children than adults sometimes. They just get it. They really do.

This one was kind of inspired. Growing on me.

June 2, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’M STILL HERE!!! I’M STILL ASSISTANT BOSS!!! If that bothers you or you are wondering if I’m throwing in the towel and going back to clinic full time, then you are NOT MY FRIEND. If you encouraged me to step down when I was at a moment of weakness and frustrated, then you are NOT MY FRIEND. No you are not. And this art piece reflects how sometimes I feel. Battered by life, my eyes assymmetric and red due to blepharitis at 3pm every day but cleaned up and although clearly dented and not quite right – I HAVE MY KNIVES OUT and READY TO FIGHT! LOL. LOL. LOL.

Almost 500 bags of litter, and this is what I’ve become. Really strong. Really well. And with an entire new skillset I never knew I could possess! My right leg was very achy last night as I was trying to get to bed. I had spent the entire Tuesday very exhausted just emailing and trying to coordinate work projects and climate projects. But being fundamentally well and knowing that I’m not to blame for the world’s and department’s problems and we have to solve both together as collective communities had enabled me to google two simple “yoga for sleep” youtube videos. I did them both about 10 minutes total, and my leg felt better and I fell gloriously to sleep. What a wonderful and deep night’s sleep.

And so I will go to work today and I will think about the earth. Lots of amazing climate projects we are doing today. We have 30 MDs from healthcare organizations through San Diego meeting to do Eco-America training. Meeting scheduled with our Area Medical Director, the Area Assistant Medical Director for Physician Wellness and three impassioned climate activist ready to talk about what we as a healthcare organization need to do for climate change. Climate change and health rotation, and climate change and health /sustainability fellowship. It’s all kind of crazy.

Then in terms of fiscal health dovetailing with financial health, we are finishing our refinance of our primary home for a 15 year fixed at 2.75%. Finished the rental property finance already. In total saved about 400K in interest over the lifetime of both loans. At 58 I will reach pension and house is paid off, so I will at that point say good-bye to my workplace and I have decided that likely I’ll stay in pediatrics but probably volunteer to work in the Indian Health Services in Oregon or San Diego. That has been a longtime dream. Invested in two businesses, two commercial properties, and buying a farm in Oregon (home inspection due this week). It’s all kind of crazy and wonderful, and we have that money simply because I decided that due to the housing crisis, it seemed like I should sell one of the condos so that someone else could become a home-owner and I could buy with a family member this huge property as a vacation home and help be a steward for 90 acres of forest.

And that is my crazy life. Making funny trash art that made me laugh and put in context these minor work issues when someone supposedly didn’t come in for work but in actuality it was that people did not ask directly, and when it’s filtered by someone else’s preception of it – the entire situation gets completely garbled. It took me all day to figure it out, because I actually sent two text messages and talked to people. Most people want to do the right thing, and most people’s misunderstanding of other’s motives and words is due to their inability to listen to others. And this is Dr. Plastic Picker ready for a full day of clinic and climate work, and trying to be a better listener! I finally understand patello-femoral syndrome in adolescents too. Just took the time to fully read a consultants note. There is so much to learn in the world!

Someone gave my mother-in-law a hat. It will be perfect for our farm!
So excited! I’m hoping to go in June and July.
Turtle? Dinosaur? Eagle? Not sure. But I LOVE HIM! I napped with him yesterday afternoon. I cleaned the ocean plastic twice and wiped it down with my home-made vinegar.

May 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

21 engagements yesterday from facebook to the blog regarding the Big Island Pipe Dream of buying 25 acres. 21 engagements! hope some people come back to the blog this morning and read about what this blog is REALLY ABOUT. Picking up ocean plastic pollution! I am DR PLASTIC PICKER not DR REAL ESTATE INVESTOR, although I do invest in real estate. But on this blog we glorify the eco-avatar half of ourselves. Am I speaking of myself in the third person? My sister thinks that is really funny and telling for various reasons.


I absolutely lone this little guy. I know some kid is going to be very happy to take him home.

May 2, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I don’t have as much time to blog and write. I know I am still blogging daily but it’s not the quiet and creative writing that I enjoy. I am okay. I appreciate everyone reading. I’m pulled to do climate work which is meaningful and impactful, but I come back here just to be me – silly Dr. Plastic Picker. The way I decide what goes on this blog, is what make me truly happy and joyful. And above is a little friend I made that made me so happy.

In between trying to get comments from academic pediatrician friends on our upcoming journal article, working on the conclusion and citations, sending emails, helping others with their applicatiosn for various board positions, and generally doing things to help the earth – I sometimes make these funny little wine-cork people. Here are some more.

All beach trash but collected by an Instagram friend. I’ve been sorting through her stash.
This one is it’s twin with the same body. The arms are actually an old hanger I had fun trying to take apart.

And the three wine-cork people I made together. Here they are as friends.

Three wine-cork friends.

Even beach trash wine-cork people need friends. They travel in groups of three. I’m post my litter picking totals tomorrow. I got to 20 this month!

April 30, 2021

by drplasticpicker

The above is a dear little trash art piece from a patient. Isn’t he darling???!!! They are all found pieces. He looks like a new species of bug. I really love him and this particular child is so creative! Look at those eyes and those atennas! I feel so lucky to be this child’s pediatrician, to know this family in all their complexities, and to have inspired this creative moment. Be creative. Make trash art. Write. It feels really good. That’s it. That’s my blogpost for today. And here is more plastic that has a complex story to it, that has been thrive washed and will be part of an epic Girl Scout Trash Art Piece.