Dr. Plastic Picker can’t go back: Moving forward with my climate activism
January 6, 2020
It is Monday, January 6, 2020. It is the first full work day back after the 2-week stretch of the holiday break. The holiday break is when staffing is the most difficult at work, as nurses and pediatricians want and need to be off with their families. This year the 2-week holiday break went on a crash-course with influenzae season. Trying to predict how well the influenzae vaccine will work and how bad or not so bad the influenzae season will be is impossible until April of each year.
After a restful week in Utah, drplasticpicker jumped right back in on December 30 fixing appointment access. I was back up at 630am talking to nursing staffing, and then call center and then our per diem pediatricians, strategically adding appointments. When the appointment numbers come out, everything was fixed as good as it possibly could be. Appointments can save lives, and I like to help things run smoothly. Since it is January 6, 2020 and everyone is back to work mostly – my crunch time is over. Influenzae season will continue for a few more months and we will schedule, diagnose and treat. But the most difficult part of my middle management part of my work is mostly done for the year.
The above picture is a gift my daughter gave her older brother yesterday. It’s a minature cardboard model of his room. It’s a “Room in a Box” and it is delightful and brilliant. Here is the other part of his room.
This “Room In A Box” project by our daughter jolted me, and I exclaimed to her that it was brilliant and lovely. It reminded me that through the last 4 months, I have fundamentally changed. My world-view has changed. I can’t go back.
I will continue to work and middle-manage, as it is easy for me. I realize that I need my extra income to save the earth. I am FISE, Financial Independent Save the Earth, and excess funds can be donated stategically https://drplasticpicker.com/fise-financial-indepedence-and-save-the-earth/. I can continue to look at these numbers and trigger appointments, as this work earns me my salary.
But CNN is filled with stories about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston, and the Kardashians again. Doesn’t CNN realize that they are distracting the world? But I refuse to be distracted. I often joke around with families that I am the opposite of ADHD, and their pediatrician is hyper-focused. As of today, I have picked up 120 bags of ocean bound plastic and 535 salvagable items. I have donated enough to save 2,456 acres of land that protects species and sequesters carbon including Kenyan Rangelands, coastal mangroves and our beloved Peruvian rainforest. This will be my 99th blog post.
This work has been gratifying and I will continue on my regular ocean plastic picking, blogging and donations. But what is next? As Dr. Plastic Picker I can’t go back. I need to move forward with my climate activitism. I am like my daughter looking down at work and the world and delighted at the minature details and the minature Room In A Box. Sometimes there are still annoyances especially this morning, but it does not bother me as such. I can see the small little details because I have grown into a giant Dr. Plastic Picker. As a giant avatar of a pediatrician that is picking up ocean plastic, I need to save the world.
So for the year 2020, these are the 5 steps I will take to further stop ocean plastic pollution and climate change. I guess it’s almost like my drplasticpicker blog resolutions. If I declare them on this blog, it will be more likely that I will do them.
- Climate for Health Leadership Circle: Through the American Academy of Pediatrics I had reached out to Dr. Bruce Bekkar who is a former Ob-Gyn from our HMO. I will move forward to be trained officially as a Climate for Health Ambassador. I am hoping this will allow me to make organizational changes to reduce carbon emmissions. I had been sitting on his email for a while, as getting involved will take time and like everyone, I thought – where is the time? But the importance of this topic and honestly composing this blogpost prompted me to reply, “Hello Bruce. I’m back. I’m waiting to hear back from XX at XX. Let’s meet. The climate certainly can’t wait. Thank you. Looking forward to moving forward.” Signed my real name.
- Physicians for a Sustainable Future: This is a closed Facebook group that I have been invited to participate. It ranges from physicians who are trying to make good purchasing decisions to working at an organizational level coordinating fellowships and conferences on sustainability. I have posted on this group here and there, but I think what I need to do is develop a model where this blog format can be replicated by others. I have three friends from my residency program who seem interested so when I get the 500 drplasticpicker canvas bags done – I will send them 10 bags each. They can just plastic pick themselves or with small groups, and then write a guest blog post and become like a drplasticpicker franchise with no franchise fee! This is a dream.
- Finish the Reusable Bag Project: It is almost done! It has been a longer process that I anticipated but it will be worth it. I have to put out $1000 of my own money which is fine. But I need to sign the final order form and approve the proofs for the bag. Soon the drplasticpicker reusable grocery totes made from 100% recycled PET bottles will be reality.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Conference, San Diego 2020: Yes the AAP Conference is in my home town next year. I have to figure out how to either get the organizers to include an ocean plastic picking outing, or do a poster or have a booth or something. I actually don’t think it will be that hard.
- Pediatician Ocean Plastic Picking Session: A powerful physician in our organization wanted to go plastic picking together. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness. I am hoping to coordinate maybe in the spring time with her family and invite other power players to go plastic picking. When you get one powerful person of influence, others will come. But I think they will come mostly because they also want to help the earth.
- Blogging: I have kind of figured out the blogging on other people’s sites. So I am hoping to write a more substantive blog post once a month and send out to either KevinMD, Doximity or Medscape. They are all looking for free content, and I have a lot of content in my brain.
- Dr. Plastic Picker Trash Art at the Del Mar Fair: Yes! I said it! I want to submit a collection of my growing trash art to the Del Mar Fair. I looked at their website and their Home & Hobby competitive exhibit includes “collections such as dolls, stamps, coins, memorabilia (and just about anything you can think of).” The entry deadline is Friday, May 15 and the Exhibit Date is June 5-July 5, 2020.
- Publish a Small Poetry Volume: It’s amazing what you can learn if you just look on the internet. I don’t think it will be that hard to self-publish a poetry volume. I actually want to make it a compilation of poetry from kids and other pediatricians. I have already a good collection of poems that I have written. I never thought I would write poetry. But my walks especially to the furthest corner of the beach I clean can only be described with poetry. The birds that I now cherish also deserve poetry. I was thinking that the proceeds could go to the San Diego Audobon Society. A patient’s parents mentioned that I should start going to coffee houses and go to open mic sessions. I have a colleague that writes poetry as well, and maybe there could be two drplasticpicker’s?
I guess that was eight goals for the year. If I blog about it, I’m more likely to do it. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. As Anne Frank once wrote, “How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?”