No Time For Baby Steps: Just Jump (Five Times)
September 21, 2020
This is really no time to waste regarding climate change. Depending on which criteria you chose, we either have 9 years or 14 years left to avert climatic disaster. We are already in mitigation mode. I am not sure if those who know me in real life truly understand the true panic in my heart. About a year ago someone at work asked me as Assistant Boss to look into why there were not enough recycling bins in their office. That request was annoying. First, it’s actually not my job as Physician Middle Manager to deal with recycling bins. Second, recycling plastic water bottles is not the answer. Acknowledging that tap water is the same as bottle water, and bring your own reusable water bottle to work is the answer. Third, this individual had mansplained me for a decade. And fourth, this request like many others would lead me down a useless rabbit hole while the world literally burns down. I could spend half of my entire professional life trying to make sure there were enough recycling bins in the offices. Instead, our department just cancelled all single-use water bottle orders. Done. No more plastic. Bring your own water in a reusable container. I have had similar requests and I address them briefly, and then move on to where I think I will be more impactful for the world.
This weekend was truly glorious. I spent about an hour last night closing charts and attending to work things. But I was so happy because for the entire weekend I had mentally and physically made leaps in my climate thinking. Yes, some people are taking baby steps and billions of baby steps will get us there. But Dr. Plastic Picker is just making the leap. I’m jumping ahead and not wasting time with the in-between.
Five Ways I’m Leaping Forward In My Thoughts and Actions
- Internalized Racism and Colonism: I’m done with it. This is keeping us back from addressing climate change. We need to have racial health equity especially with physicians of color in the work place and restoration of indigenous people’s rights if we are to address climate change. They are all linked. Did you hear about Barbados? This is a former British colony that became independent over 70 years ago. They were like much of the Commonweath and still had the Queen of England as their head of state. They decided that they were done with their colonial past and removed her as their head of state. They ejected their colonial past. When I read that, I was inspired. I see this internalized racism and colonism everywhere. I am fortunate that my ancestral country was colonized but not for as long as other countries. I truly believe our egalitarian history shaped who I am. I have had people from other colonized countries completely obsessed with how European they are. I never understood why you would want to be anything other than who you are? But wanting to have a lighter complexion or look like one’s former colonizers is internalized racism. So I’m done. I unfollowed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Facebook. I just blocked Kensington Royal account on Instagram. And yesterday I donated all my romance novels that have inappropriate colonial stories. They are old storylines that are dangerous.
- No Retirement Party: I have hosted three big retirement parties. Each of those people were people who I wanted to do it for them. There are two upcoming retirement parties I could host, but it’s actually not my job. As a young female physician, there was always a feeling of obligation I felt toward these people who often older, male and white. But I realize now that it was completely misplaced. Those relationships were transactional in nature. I came to our organization as a fully trained Crimson educated pediatrician. I don’t owe them in particular for my career advancement. Instead now I remember all those times that these individuals tried to derail the career of many younger women and POC. Not once did they offer to cover me when I was a young mommy in need. Instead it was my female colleagues who also had young children who offered me support. When I heard one of these individuals called one of our nurses and requested he come kill a chicken for him, I started to get very angry. I am busy anyway with lots of climate projects and throwing a party half-heartedly for two people who have lots of money and lots privilege is not a good use of my time. So I’m done. Over it. Those retirement parties always cost me money anyway, as I had to front a few thousands of dollars and never full recouped the cost. Plus the individual I actually most admired left our department and did not want a retirement party, and I don’t want anyone at work to throw me one as well. I’d rather donate that money to plant trees in Nepal or Kenya anyway. More oxygen for all of us.
- Paying Someone To Compost For Me: A few of us at the office are still trying to figure out the composting thing. Seven years ago I bought a tumbler composter at Costco for $100. The entire endeavor was a hot mess. Literally. It never actually worked. It was a pain for my father-in-law to put together. It attracted a lot of flies. And then when we moved, it was a pain for me to get rid of. Here there are no easy composting services. The local church will compost for us, but it’s $5 a bucket of food waste. That’s actually a lot of money. I want to try vermicomposting with red wiggler worms. After a few Ecosia (not Google) searches, vermicomposting bins started popping up on my Instagram and internet feed. It’s kind of scary how the computer knows. The computer (or the advertisers who pay Mark Zuckerberg) want me to spend anywhere from $100-150 dollars on a vermicomposter system. But after watching a few YouTube Videos and adhering to the whole point of my new lifestyle (repurpose and buy LESS), I started building a new vermicomposting system which is just really two plastic bigs. My in-laws even gifted me their plastic mesh bag that their bulk onions came in. Score! I really need that for my composting system. It goes on the bottom of the inner plastic bin so the worms can’t crawl out. I was hugging the orange mesh onion sack lovingly yesterday. I really think it’s going to work this time. And if it does not work, I haven’t wasted any money and I reused some plastic tubs I had laying around anyway. So we skipped buying a vermicoposter system and skipped giving transporting buckets of food waste to someone else to deal with at $5 a bucket. I was even thinking of buying a paper shredder for the composting project, but I can just use scissors and my paper cutter. I don’t think the system is going to go through that much shredded paper.
- Skipped the Backyard Chickens and Moved onto Flaxseed Eggs. I was caught up with the rest of the world with the idea of backyard chickens. We had chickens growing up. I am confused now because I thought my paternal grandmother had been vegan her whole life, but I now remember that she would kill those chickens for dinner. Maybe she became vegan later in life. Anyway, I actually contemplating getting backyard chickens and then backyard quails. I was even really thinking of installing a chicken coop on my roofdeck. But it’s too hot there and I think I would have had fried chickens. Plus you can easily get Salmonella from pet chickens. So instead I’m imperfectly vegan and mostly vegetarian and definitely almost all pescatarian, and I use ground flaxseed as “vegan eggs.” So done. Skipped the whole backyard chicken mess.
- Skipped Making Instapot Yogurt and I eat Chia Seed Pudding. Before I became Dr. Plastic Picker, Mr. Plastic Picker would buy endless containers of single-use yogurt. I thought about making yogurt in the instapot for a long time. My moms done it a few times. But honestly I was intimidated. But then again we decided to reduce our dairy, so now I just make chia seed, vegan milk and oatmeal “pudding.” You just put everything in a reusable glass jar and shake it up. That is it. It’s really yummy and gives me the same satisfaction of yogurt. From the National Resource Defense Council, it takes “14 kilo-calories (kcal) of fossil fuels to produce a single kcal of dairy milk, whereas just 1 kcal of fossil fuels can produce 3.2 kcal of soybeans.” https://www.nrdc.org/stories/shrink-your-carbon-footprint-ease-dairy Plus yogurt still comes from cows which makes huge demands on the earth through intensive land and water needs, not to mention the methane released from lagoons of the waste products. Ewwww. I’d rather eat chia seed/oatmeal pudding. So yummy! and it reduced my plastic as well and saved me money!
I originally thought I had 10 Reasons, but I only have 5 Leaps this weekend. But 5 leaps is a lot. It’s so freeing. I love my new eco-haven under our fancy stairs that lead to the roofdeck. Our roofdeck is so hot and windy, and I can’t figure out what to do with the roofdeck. But the landing is cool and actually perfect place for my succulent garden project and my vermicomposting project. I created my little eco-oasis just repurposing things I already had. When I sit there, I feel like I am sitting in a womb. There is always a gentle breeze there. Everyone comes and visits me when I’m sitting there now. My puppy likes to sit in my lap when I’m there. Our daughter stopped by several times to show me things.
Oh, I do remember a 6th leap! Rather than paying someone to give me organic eco-friendly cleaning products. I’m actually just making my own apple-scrap vinegar. The vinegar project is going really really well. I think it will be edible. But in the least, I can use my home-made organic apple-scrap vinegar to clean my kitchen and bathroom. Thank you for reading along! I have to do an unpleasant HR task right now that I’ve been delaying all weekend. At these moments, I am reminded that it’s important for me to stay as a woman physician leader. Signing off your local litter picking Pediatrician! Hoping I encourage you also to jump forward with me. Skip the recycling (you should recycle but realize recycling was a myth perpetuated by Big Oil = Big Plastic) and just drink tap water in a reusable water bottle. If my composting project works, I’m going to offer my red wiggler worms to a dear pediatrician friend.