Hopeful Wednesday – Dr. Plastic Picker
 

Tag: Hopeful Wednesday

I ran to my spot this morning. It was after July 4th, and everyone was still asleep.

July 8, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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?”

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Mr. Plastic Picker wanted to spell Jettygland. We did not give it to him. Our beloved Scrabble Board, we will likely keep forever now.

May 6, 2020

by drplasticpicker

We are almost 2 months into COVID-19 quarantine, and there is positive news for the environment. Flamingos blanket the mudflats of Mumbai and turtles are nesting freely on empty beaches. Initially I thought these reports were overblown, but I’ve seen the increasing number of backyard birds and my sister describes deer and racoons taking over her Virginia neighborhood. Dr. Plastic Picker has to be careful with these posts, because hope for the environment has to be balanced with compassion for the human lives loss due to COVID-19 and repercussions of the downspiraling economy. So rather than celebrating the financial losses of the cruise and airline industries, I focus on the secondary environmental benefits of all of us living through a time of scarcity.

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Did you know there is an app that can identify plants???!!! This is a cabbage!

April 15, 2020

by drplasticpicker

We are in the middle of unprecedented times, when much of the world is in quarantine and COVID-19 is a menacing danger. I am sitting at home in Southern California, and most of my department are not doing any heroics. Most outpatient pediatrics is doing virtual visits. As Dr. Plastic Picker, I don’t know when I can return to the beach to start picking up plastic again. As Pediatricians, we don’t know when we will return to seeing face to face patients or what medicine will be like after this is all over. We are blessed that for the most part children are doing okay. Rates of respiratory illnesses are down because kids are not swapping germs anymore, a side effect of quarantining. Even with New York City still in the midst of a true crisis and the rest of the country is anxiously watching to see if the curve truly flattening – I still have hope.

It’s easy for me to have hope, because I have not been asked to do much. I have tried to help as much as I can but it seems woefully inadequate in comparison to the sacrifice others are making. I have helped distribute a few thousand masks, tried to make sure my little corner of the medical world is flattening the curve, and continued to have the environment on my mind. But I have hope because from great hardship the world can change. It sometimes takes momentous challenges for us to reach our true potential. Personally for me, the greatest times of personal growth have been after great personal and professional failures. So I am hopeful that we will make a better world post COVID-19.

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Lucas. One of our young drplasticpickers. He has been to each of our beach cleanings, wielding his grabber with relish.

Feburary 5, 2020

by drplasticpicker

The thought that any one individual knows what humanity can and cannot do in the next decade is the utmost arrogance. I know about arrogance, because I am an MD and we are all a little bit arrogant. But 6 months ago I checked my arrogance and narcissism at the beach and began relearning the true lessons of humility, nature and the power of collective action. I have seen doctors look briefly at a single “chief complaint” and by just glancing through the chart, they have already diagnosed the patient before even talking to the family or examining the patient. At those moments I have called colleagues out. So now I also call out those naysayers regarding environmental action, I call them premature. Finish collecting your data. Finish your work. Talk to the patient and family. Examine their lungs, listen and palpate. Use your stethoscope. Don’t just jump to xray. As I was taught the first day of medical school by a beloved pediatrician-professor Dr. Robert Masland from the Children’s Hospital of Boston, 99% of everything is history and physical. And our most important patient, our earth, I see small clinical signs of hope. This is not false optimist, but earned hope.

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January 15, 2020

by drplasticpicker

12th bag for January, 127th bag in total.

Thank you for joining me with this weekly blog post, which has come to mean so much to me. There has a recent article on BBC.COM regarding the power of hope and the fallacy of optimism. Indeed I am not optimistic but I am hopeful. The BBC article really captured this difference. “Scrolling through social media showing other people’s efforts on climate breakdown can give a false sense of optimism . . . [but] Real, good, useful hope has nothing to do with positive news. Instead, it is profoundly linked with action: both ours and that of others alongside us . . . There’s only one way to earn hope, and that’s rolling up our sleeves.” https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200109-is-it-wrong-to-be-hopeful-about-climate-change

The picture above was my 12th bag for January, and the new decade, and the 127th since I started. I had not realized that I had captured a fellow beach-goer doing a wheely on his bicycle until I finished my picture. I’ve been reinstated onto Instagram as @drplasticpicker without much fanfare and have figured out how to let that platform be part of this mission without letting it take over my life. I am at my 236th follower, and those numbers are every day growing. But I’ve come to realize the quantity is not important rather than the quality of interactions. Despite the almost 20 million acres of Australian acres burning and the poor poor almost one billion animals that have died, I have hope because every day I can look back on this blog and know I have done something. And @drplasticpicker and my friends we have wonderful plans that are percolating now. And I know many of you will join us.

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