Coming Home. Earth, California but mostly San Diego.
April 26, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
Like many I’ve flown many times. At some points, we were very bicostal. My sister and I were studying college and graduate school in New England and our family home was in Southern California. Then trying to maintain familial relationships with all our New York relatives when Mr. Plastic Picker and I relocated our family back to San Diego required flying. But with the COVID pandemic, most of us stopped flying. I flew for just the second time in the last three years to Denver this last weekend, double masked at the end and only furtively taking sips of water when I felt dehydrated. I don’t fly lightly or without reason especially since there is still COVID and especially since I know it’s spewing carbon into the air.
But I was flying for climate work, and in my calculating green brain – I figured the carbon was worth it, if I activated more pediatricians into climate and health advocacy. Dr. Dear Friend came along as well, and we tried to be in general as environmentally conscientous as we could. We took the train both from the airport and back. We walked and did touristy stuff near the city center during our off time. We skipped the cleaning service several times to save on water for the Colorado River. We half of the time used our reusable water bottles and reusable cofffee mugs. I skipped one shower at the end of the trip, knowing that is more water again for the Colorado River. Several meals we choose mostly plant-based. Our dinner for the Climate Change Special Interest Group was at True Foods, known for it’s plant-based recipe. I picked up four stray plastic bags on our walk to and from the Denver Convention Center (did I forget to mention we attended the Pediatric Academic Societies National Conference in Denver, Colorado?). We tried to not bring home too many swag bags, and probably refused 2/3 of what was offered. During the walk from Dr. Dear Friend’s airport hotel to the train station at the beginning of the trip, I went to the front desk of the moderately priced hotel and asked them if they had a hat in the lost and found that I could have. That was the most environmentally fun part of the trip. It was sunny and I needed a hat, and they likely had one. I told the front desk woman who was very nice and I could feel a kinship with her, that I was a minimalist. She gave me one that had been there for at least several months, so I was unlikely to get lice.
But after a whirlwind four days of climate work and making connections for future projects, I was sitting on the Boeing airplane with UNITED branded on the side. We were descending into San Diego. It has been a while again since I’ve flown and likely I’m no longer numb to the luxuriously of this carbon intensive travel. But I flew in and I saw the twinkling lights of our home. I could make out the distinctive shapes of all the buildings of Balboa Park, and the old fashioned street lamps that line Cabrillo bridge. Oh San Diego. I love you so much. I love our planet. But my love for this city and it’s children, and our collective community is what drives me. That’s why we founded San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air. https://sdpediatriciansforcleanair.com/ It’s why we were able to help pass the SAAFE antivaping bill at San Diego City Council yesterday. It’s why two San Diego pediatricians (Dr. Dear Friend and myself) were able to come to Denver and amongst a national group of environmental health specialists, were able to help inspire more activism. Because we told our story about all the different local projects, but more about our community.
We left Denver cleaner than we found it. But we are home now, and with this also proud young San Diegan – we will help reduce single-use plastics in San Diego healthcare through collaboration.
Dr. Plastic Picker is back home dear blog readership. I’ll get a big bag of plastic pollution this morning, because I feel stronger after making more green friends and hearing from some life-long environmental health advocates – that my off-beat story inspired them. I told a group of pediatric academic specialists, “You are enough. Every pediatrician is a super-hero. There is nothing more powerful than a pissed off passive-aggressive pediatricians who is now healed.” It’s my story and I’m sticking with it.