Dr. Rachel Guest: Pediatrician and Nature Defender #5 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Dr. Rachel Guest: Pediatrician and Nature Defender #5

| Posted in MDs Making Eco-Choices (Interviews)

Lake Morraine – Alberta, Canada. I asked Dr. Guest to send her favorite recent photo of nature. Photo credit by Dr. Rachel Guest.

January 12, 2020

by drplasticpicker

I want to introduce you to Dr. Rachel Guest who is the fifth in this series of interviews with Pediatricians who are either “drplasticpickers” or more importantly defenders of our environment. She is the fifth but certainly I would say honestly one of our fiercest pediatricians who are environmental defenders. Pediatricians are natural allies to the children fighting for the environment, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated children will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change.

I have known Dr. Rachel Guest for almost 10 years. There are a handful of colleagues I trust enough to see my own children, and indeed she saw our daughter just yesterday afternoon. Dr. Plastic Picker is ever honest, and Dr. Rachel Guest is known in our department as a fierce and passionate person. I have been in many work meetings with her, and she has a very clear sense of who she is, the state of the world and what is right and what is wrong. I honestly have always enjoyed working with her. I like colleagues who push me to be better, and she drives those all around her to excel. It makes sense to me that she has always wanted to care for our sickest children. She has always worked in the more acute care settings: Pediatric Emergency Room, as a Pediatric Hospitalist and is one of the lead phyisicans in our Pediatric After Hour Clinics.

Dr. Rachel Guest completed her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College, with a major in Chemistry and minor in Biology. She was awarded her MD from the Dartmouth-Brown joint program. She writes the “program is now defunct. First two years of medical school at Dartmouth and the last two years with MD from Brown University, two schools who want alumni contributions.”  She has one of those dry sensibilities, very similar to Mr. Plastic Picker. If you don’t listen carefully, you’ll miss half the jokes! She completed residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University, one of the top pediatric residencies in the country. Dr. Plastic Picker remembers interviewing there, and that program is indeed thorough but intense.

Dr. Guest writes how her two years in New Hampshire and Dartmouth were treasured years. She simply loved Dartmouth “because of all the awesome outdoor opportunities (hiking, skiing, canoeing) to enjoy in between studies with like-minded folks.” In this journey of environmental activism, I have often sought advice and guidance from Dr. Guest. Indeed, she has always been a “dr plastic picker” and will go for long walks with her mother on the beach. They always leave the beach cleaner than they find it.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Dr. Rachel Guest. I certainly enjoyed getting to know her, someone I thought I knew well, even better. People are like onions, many layers that take years to peel. And when you peel those layers off, you will find their heart. And her heart is pure goodness. Here is her fun interview!

What kind of coffee mug did you use this morning? Porcelain mug for tea made by company called Sweese.  It is my understanding that porcelain is a sustainable product.

Do you carry a reusable water bottle? Can you describe it? Water bottle is a hydro-flask that I try not to leave at work.

Your last trip to the grocery store, did you use a reusable grocery tote? Can you describe it? I used a Whole Foods reusable cloth bag they gave me for free on Prime Day.

What kind of car do you drive and how many miles per gallon do you get? How far is your commute to work? I drive a 2013 Lexus 450 Rx hybrid which gets about 27-30 mpg. I plan to keep it as long as possible. I work at 2 and sometimes 3 different locations that are 12, 16 and 23 miles away from my home.  (In one of our text exchanges about the environment, Dr. Guest told me she has decided to keep her car longer rather than upgrading soon due to the looming climate crisis. Indeed, half of the carbon pollution from a car is simply in it’s manufacturing. Please note Dr. Jill Gustafson chose to make that same decision).

What things have you done for the environment lately? I bought a new condo that has solar panels. I am recycling as much plastic and paper products as I can.  Trying to buy sustainable products like a suitcase made from recycled plastic bottles (Samsonite Eco Nu), shoes from Allbirds.  To try to limit my contribution to air pollution by using a broom instead of a leaf blower, gas fireplace (no wood burning) and eat meat from livestock less than a dozen times/year.  Really so many things we do can be optimized to have less of an environmental impact from the number of dishes we use to how we clean them. 

This year I have gotten more involved in supporting political candidates that believe in fighting climate change. I think battling climate change has to be the number one priority of every government in this world otherwise this entire planet will soon become uninhabitable making all other political issues irrelevant. The fire devastation of Australia is an example of what happens when leaders do the opposite.  Greed is no match for nature’s fury. 

Also, I make sure to stay up to date on all my vaccinations and enthusiastically encourage all patients and families to do the same.  Vaccines are an extremely important part of the recipe for a sustainable world.  They prevent illnesses that can be huge drains on our resources and protect people from needless disability & death.  

What are your feelings about drplasticpicker? I think drplasticpicker is AWESOME.  I do my best to pick up garbage I see on the beaches around San Diego that I frequent as much as possible but cannot compete with drplasticpicker.  Caring for the environment is caring for the health of our communities outside of exam rooms. 

As Dr. Rachel Guest alluded to, there are many reasons to worry and despair. As I write this blog interview, millions of acres of the Australian wilderness and 1 billion precious animals have died. But Dr. Rachel Guest is an example of an environmental defender that is agitating for our environment. How did she become who she is? “I think my love of the outdoors, cultivated by a childhood of full of outdoor excursions with my family, is the the root of my environmental consciousness.” Indeed, there is a movement out there to get our children outside for 1000 hours a year. As pediatricians and parents, we ourselves need to get outside and get reconnected with nature. If we get out in nature, that healing of ourselves and the world will come. You’ll figure out what you need to do, just like Dr. Rachel Guest figured it out years ago in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire.  

Click here to read about Pediatrician #6, Dr. Naomi Lawrence-Reid! https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-naomi-lawrence-reid-eco-conscious-pediatrician6/

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