I brought my cold brew coffee concentrate to the office yesterday. I reused a sauce jar and made sure it did not have any pungent smells in it, but the lid was not the tightest fit. So I carefully put it in my lunchbag but had to make sure to carry it the right way so it would not spill. It made it to clinic and I put my reused glass jar in the office fridge. We have a new office fridge. The old fridge had been there since the clinic’s opening over 20 years ago.
I skipped last week and was sad about skipping last week’s Hopeful Wednesday post. I forgot what was actually going on that day, but there were more pressing things and it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. But today I am happy, because I had been preparing to write this post since last week and have been savings bits and pieces of good environmental news to share with you. It is the hump day of the week and we are in the middle of the the rising COVID-19 pandemic, but I wanted to give you glimmers of hope of a liveable future if we are able to imagine it.
Perspective is so important these days. I went out litter picking three times yesterday. The last litter pick was last night and I was a bit irate at Mr. Plastic Picker. He went out the front door with the puppy and I left out through the back door as I needed to get my metal grabber. We were supposed to meet at the corner, but I didn’t see him. Instead of being irate as was my initial reaction (does he love the puppy more than me?), I saw 3 monarch butterflies in the high tree top of our neighbors gorgeous front yard tree. I just stood there watching the butterflies for a moment. Then I spotted a green vaping pen across the street, and safely jogged across the street to retrieve it as I need another one for my next vaping trash art piece. I finished filling my one shopping bag and found 2 aluminum cans and headed home. Mr. Plastic Picker was actually the irate one when I got back to the house. The puppy had refused to go for her walk as she is still traumatized by the July 4th fireworks, but my dear husband went out looking for me and could not find me. I looked at his handsome Vulcan-like face and said, “but I saw 3 butterflies and a vaping pen for my trash art piece?”
When I was a freshman at Crimson College, we were required to be part of the meal plan where our parents had to pay a set amount yearly for unlimited meals at the residential dining hall. The reasoning from Crimson University is that unrestricted communal eating in the classic House Dining Hall setting promoted a shared university experience. For over a decade, Mr. Plastic Picker and I ate countless meals at Hufflepuff Dining Hall and much of our university experience as undergraduates, medical students and later as advisors centered around those late hours in the dining hall chatting with friends and students.
It’s amazing what you can learn on the internet these days. It’s Plastic-Free July. We are using this month to really try to reduce our plastic waste. One thing that we have been buying lately is premade frozen either sweet potatoe fries or regular fries. We usually pair this with some sort of easy vegan burger. But since yesterday’s home made black bean burger project was a success, I have decided to try to make our own frozen french fries.
Again, I looked at several recipes online and mostly used this one from Frugally Blonde. Anything with the name Frugal is great. A long time ago, I used to call myself the Frugal Pediatrician but never really used that name other than to comment. That was 10 years ago. Then when I wanted to start blogging I found Dr. McFrugal who I now know in real life, and I thought better come up with something else. Mr. Plastic Picker suggested Dr. Plastic Picker, and this blog was born. But anyway, this is the link from Frugal Blonde who is a stay-at-home lifestyle blogger https://www.frugallyblonde.com/homemade-frozen-french-fries/.
Honestly sometimes I’m not sure what I am doing. I pick up trash (223 bags now). I recycle (302 aluminum cans and 125 plastic mostly water bottles). I donate found items (41 pieces of clothing and 26 tennis balls/dog toys). I make trash art (see my anti-vaping pieces). I’m on instagram, never my face but always the trash I pick up (933 followers now). And I’m trying to go vegan, and educate my patients and fellow pediatricians that a planet-healthy and plant-based diet are one in the same. I just set in motion a journal club for our department on evidence-based discussion of veganism within the pediatric population called “So You Want Your Toddler to be Vegan?” Honestly one of the most impactful things I do is just donate money to environmental groups and we are at over $3000 this year and have helped preserve 7,212 acres of mostly rainforest and planted or helped preserve 200,000 trees. When the plastic picker children wake up, we’ll discuss where to donate this month.
FISE stands for Financial Independence to Save the Earth. And today Dr. Plastic Picker was FISE. When I successfully made vegan black beans burgers – the earth, my net worth and our family’s health all won today. When I stumble upon a great project, I know I need to dive right in. I, Dr. Plastic Picker, your local litter picking and wannabe vegan pediatrician, am committed to perfecting several recipes for several different kinds of vegan burgers for my family. I made my first batch today for July 4th, and unanimously our family loved them. I just finished chatting with our culinarily-talented tween daughter. The girl has made her own brioche and can whip up her own quiche with her eyes closed. And she said “I loved them. They were delicious the softer texture compared to the store-bought ones. It went well with the toppings. And knowing how much more affordable they are made them even more delicious.”
I am working on a more substantial blog on CME/MOCs which has been very helpful. It’s mostly helping me organize my thoughts of CME/MOCs and how much they cost. Like with most things, I now realize that we all have plenty of CME/MOC opportunities for free at our HMO and there is no reason to pay for outside ones. But that will be a more comprehensive blogpost as I need to look up some more information before I publish it.
The medical training process can be brutal. Even in pediatrics after the 80-hour-work-week restrictions and in a more “benign” supportive program, it was hard. I think all of us tend to forget as we get older and are professionally and financially and psychologically in safer places. I wrote this post about the culture of bullying in medicine and physician burnout, which I thought was decent https://drplasticpicker.com/stop-physician-burn-out-there-is-no-house-of-god/. The other byproduct of being a doctor is that I’ve fallen asleep in odd places.
I had a full day of clinic yesterday and everyone showed up. I was mostly catching up on physicals. We are desperately trying to make sure we get the vaccination rates up. Because of COVID-19, the national vaccination rates have plummetted and we are worried about the collatoral damage of a vaccine preventable disease outbreak among children especially measles. I’m on the vaccine planning committees for our HMO and we are getting ready for drive-through vaccine campaigns and have generally been very proactive in this work. Our area’s vaccine rates have not plummeted and have indeed remained steady, and hopfully will increase with our work.
There is always a bright side in life!!! We may be in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. I may have been fielding irate phone calls from frustrated front-line providers who feel they do not have adequate PPE. As parents we are all worried about whether school commences in September, and even if it does- will it fuel the spread of COVID-19? But it is the first day of July 2020 and it’s designated Plastic-Free July!!! Did you even know that such a wonderful month existed? Well I am Dr. Plastic Picker and this is going to be a fun month for me, filled with moments of trying to move my life to less plastic. I’m telling you, when I attended a talk on the Science of Happiness and Gratitude at one of our HMO Regional meetings and they said 50% of happiness is genetic, I know they were speaking to me! And Dr. Plastic Picker is so happy that it’s Plastic Free July!