World Ocean Day: How You Can Help Save Our Oceans Now

At Lil Helper, it’s no secret we care about the environment. From cloth diapers, to reusable snack bags and menstrual products, we are all about reducing waste. That’s why, for World Ocean Day, we wanted to spotlight an organization doing great work to protect the environment. We talked to Natasha Tucker, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Canada, about what we can all do to help save our Oceans now. Here is what she had to say.


What is Plastic Oceans Canada?

Plastic Oceans Canada is an extension of the international organization, Plastic Oceans, based out of the US.  To date, there are 5 branches, including the Canadian and US branches as well as in Mexico, Chile and Europe. The organization began in 2016 when a documentary, A Plastic Ocean, was released. The organization's mission is to inform, inspire, and incite action to solve plastic pollution by focusing on four key pillars; activism, advocacy, education and science.

What Can People Do to Help Protect the Ocean?

There are so many ways to help protect the oceans. I'll break it down by our four pillars:

Activism

Get involved with shoreline cleanups, even if you don't live near a "shore". All drains run to our waterways and any litter can easily find its way to water as well. Shoreline cleanups do not necessarily need to be organized events. If you're out for a walk, bring along some gloves and a container and pick up what you see along the way. Bonus points if your container is reusable, and you try to recycle or repurpose your findings! As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure! By doing this, you're actually contributing to promoting a circular economy and diverting this waste from the landfill (where, let's be honest, it is destined to end up back in our environment).

Photo Credit: Megan L. A pair of tongs and LH Wetbag make for an easy way to include the kids in clean ups

Eliminate single-use plastics from your life by making more sustainable swaps. My biggest piece of advice is to do this one by one as it's needed instead of a big (overwhelming!) overhaul. Need a new toothbrush? Grab a bamboo one with compostable bristles! Ran out of shampoo/conditioner/soap? There are so many local makers who make fantastic, package-free alternatives. We are so lucky to live in a time where plastic packaging is becoming less and less, let's keep speaking up with our dollars to advocate for more of this!

Be mindful of the food you consume, specifically fish. As many are aware due to the recent sensational documentary, Seaspiracy, the fishing industry has a long way to go when it comes to balancing the health of our oceans and sustainable business practices.

Support new circular economy initiatives dedicated to creating change on a mass scale by encouraging large corporations to focus on reusable packaging.

Support the initiatives of Plastic Oceans Canada by making a monthly or one-time donation

Advocacy

Speak up to your officials in your area about the harmful effects of single-use plastic. You can even draft letters to MP's, local restaurants and dental clinics here

Vote for single-use plastic elimination with your dollar by choosing more sustainable, plastic-free options whenever possible

When it comes time to vote, educate yourself on the agendas of the politicians and vote accordingly for those focused on protecting our environment.

Education

Become aware of the harmful effects of single-use plastics and how to avoid them. Here's a little crash course!

If you're looking for ways to create your own alternative products at home, there are many recipes online to do so.

For example, check out how to create your own composting system at home here.

Science

Trust in the people who have dedicated their professions to solving this problem through tireless study and research. These are the experts we need to be listening to!

Why can’t I just recycle my plastic? Isn’t that enough?

Recycling plastic initially was seen as a way to use plastic once and know it was getting reused. However, with recent studies showing that less than 10% of plastics actually get recycled this is simply not an effective way to manage our plastics. The value of plastic varies depending on a variety of factors such as how many times it has been recycled, type of plastic, and even the color. As a result, many "undesirable" plastics are doomed for a life in landfill, or worse, in our oceans.

With 90% of the world's plastic not being recycled, it is often carried to our environment through the wind. This is critical to remember as even if you do your best to recycle plastics, think that only 1 of every 10 items will actually be recycled, and the rest has a very good chance of ending up in our environment. This is why we suggest recycling as the very last resort, and instead focusing on refusal of plastics when possible, and reduction.

The Ocean Impacts Us All

Photo Credit: Erica C.

Many people feel that they need to live near the ocean to be connected to it, but we are all connected to the ocean in some way. The ocean is full of mysterious creatures, expansive ecosystems and is key to our livelihood as humans. A healthy ocean directly impacts our ability to lead healthy lives as humans and the more polluted it becomes, the more devastating the effects on humankind.

Together, we can create a healthier ocean for a healthier you


Want to learn more about how you can help save our oceans? Check out our tips on simple, single use swaps here, and Plastic Oceans Canada for more information.

How to Cloth Diaper at Night Without Losing Sleep

A common question in our Unsnapped Facebook group: how to cloth diaper at night? Grace is here with all kinds of tips and tricks to help you make the switch to sustainability without losing sleep!


My son is perfect in my eyes, but typical to most. At seven months, he sits up for a few minutes on his own. He rolls over and spins. He gets hangry if his bottle is late. He HATES sleeves. However, he is a unicorn baby in one respect: sleep.

My kid will sleep – no joke – ten to twelve hours at night uninterrupted. I briefly stir him before I go to bed for a quick change and “dream” bottle, but that’s usually it. Sounds great, right? Well, it comes with its own challenge: diapering overnight.

Cloth diapering overnight is a tricky business. It comes down to three factors – well, layers.

Cloth Diaper at Night: The Layers

Layer #1: The Insert(s)

Getting the right absorbency is the trickiest part. When I started to cloth diaper at night, I used the Lil Helper overnight inserts. They are a way more absorbent than a charcoal set, which was my go-to during the day when I started cloth at 5 weeks. (A charcoal set holds 180mL while an overnight set holds 300mL.)

As he grew, he needed more absorbency. I swapped the small insert of my overnight set for the small insert of a charcoal or – better yet – a tank.

Tanks are amazing. I don’t know what kind of rocket science went into them, but they are super thin and even more absorbent, holding around 330mL. As my son has grown, I’ve gone back and forth between tanks and overnight sets, using layer #2 to augment my absorbency.

Layer #2: The Booster

Photo Credit: Sammi A.

Your little human is going to be a pee machine overnight, and even a tank might not be enough. Your first instinct may be to just toss a bunch of extra inserts to your cloth diaper at night but DON’T! While it’s normal for an overnight diaper to be a little bulkier, if the diaper is too bulky, you’re going to get compression leaks. So, what’s the fix?

Boosters! My go to are the bamboo boosters. These lil wonders hold 120mL on their own! They also have a stay-dry liner (which we’ll talk about next). Simply lay them on top of an overnight or tank to give your overnight set-up a bit of a boost! (As a bonus, they can be re-used in a trainer when potty training for extra absorbency.)

Now, I hear you – some of you don’t want to (or can’t!) spend the money on another insert. No problem! An effective way to solve this is to use a washcloth. I highly recommend using a Lil Helper sweatshirt or bamboo wipe – the bamboo wipes hold about 60mL on their own. If you have flour sack towels, those are also great! Folding one of these over and laying it inside the inserts will give you a lot of extra absorption without creating a ton of bulk.

Layer #3: Staying Dry

Not to state the obvious, but overnight diapers are far wetter than daytime diapers, since you aren’t changing them every two hours. Babies do not like feeling wet. On top of that, sitting in a wet or dirty diaper for extended periods can cause a nasty rash.

The unsung hero in overnight diapering is the Stay Dry Liner. These little blue fellas are inexpensive and so worth it. First of all, if your baby poops in one, it slides off, even without spraying. More importantly, it helps your baby to feel dry.

My son has eczema and super sensitive skin. Keeping that moisture off of his skin is very important. These stay dry liners are aptly named – he doesn’t feel wet when he wears them. He will happily stay in a wet diaper much longer and with fewer consequences while wearing one of these.

Troubleshooting Your Cloth Diaper at Night

Now even with all these tips, there are going to be some issues you need to watch out for.

Leaks:

As a rule, if you are leaking through the front, it’s probably not enough absorbency. If you are leaking out of the top or legs, it’s likely fit. As I mentioned above, too much bulk can cause compression leaks, which typically come out of the legs – but so can a fit that’s too loose.

Always make sure that your leg elastics are in the underwear line. If you see fleece, tuck it in. Your waist and hip snaps will likely be a little looser than daytime to accommodate the extra bulk – but if it’s more than one snap, you probably have too much in there. You can also unsnap one or both of the inserts to give your little one more room to wiggle, if you feel the night cloth diaper isn’t sitting well.

If all of that fails and you are STILL getting leaks, you’ll want to use the leaky app to be sure you don’t have repelling or build-up.

Regularity:

If your kid is quite regular with their bowel movements, make a note of when it’s happening. Regardless of whether it’s daytime or nighttime, baby should be changed ASAP for poopy diapers. Unfortunately, that may mean you still need a 2 a.m. change.

The Backup Plan:

When it comes to diapering a child, poop happens. It doesn’t matter if the baby is in cloth or disposables, there will come a day when you didn’t get the insert just right or your kid ate one too many prunes. (I’m staring at my little prune monster as I write this.) If your child is over 18 months, consider investing in a Lifesaver Mat! These blankets are soft, cute, and absorbent. They have saved many a mattress and can definitely save your kid’s sheets.

Photo Credit: Amanda U.

Is your little too little? Well then try the crib sheets, coming summer 2021! These sheets are not only soft, but absorbent – and they protect your mattress!

Cloth diapering overnight might seem impossible – but once you have the right absorbency and fit, everything else tends to fall into place.

Do you have any tips on how to cloth diaper at night? Share them in the comments!


About the Author

Grace is a mom of one and a high school teacher on mat leave. She loves board games, reading, and has a mini-zoo.


Every Child Matters

Content Warning: This story may be distressing to some readers

In honour of the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School last week, the Lil Helper team feels its important to help amplify Indigenous voices during this time of mourning.

All Canadians need to do their part to achieve the Calls to Action from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, and this cannot be achieved without Call to Action #71 – all children lost in the genocide that was residential schools need to be found and acknowledged, so they can be brought home.

One way to support this part of reconciliation, is by pushing the federal government to continue the work started by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and fund the use ground penetrating radar at all former residential schools. To support this important work, please visit this change.org petition and learn more from the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

A Poem by Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)

We searched for you

You supposed to come home.
Instead, the robes came.
They told us that you ran away.

We told them that you would never run away.
We told them that you were too young to run away.
We told them that you were afraid of the dark.

We begged them to find you.
We begged them for mercy.
We begged them to pray to their god for help.

They stood there, firm.
They stood there, cold.
They stood there, unfeeling.

They said that you ran away.
They said they had been looking for months.
They said you weren’t going to come home.

They were right, you didn’t come home.

Your dad and I searched for you.
Your siblings and grandparents searched for you.
Your aunts, uncles and relatives searched for you.

We couldn’t find you.

You began to appear in our dreams.
You were always near the school.
You told us that you did not run away.

We searched again and again.
Your grandparents searched until they died.
Your dad searched until he died.

A few days ago, I found you.
I heard it on the news.
They said the number ‘215’.

I felt you jump for joy.
You were found.
I told them that you wouldn’t run away.

Kākithaw niwākomākanak (All my Relations),
(author) Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)
Original Home Territory: Ochapowace Cree First Nation

The catholic church and Canadian Federal government ran the Kamloops residential school, which opened in 1890 and ran until 1978.

This piece was written in honour of the 215 children who died and were buried on the grounds of the school, and to their families and communities.
In honour of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation who are working to honour the children by identifying them.

If you need to talk to someone about your feelings, please call the residential school helpline at 1-866-925-4419.

Global Day of Parents: Your New Favourite Holiday

Unpopular opinion alert: I think we celebrate too many holidays. I know. But before you come for me with your pitchforks, think about it for a second. How many times has your child reminded you at 8:00 pm that they need cupcakes or a special coloured shirt for school tomorrow to celebrate some holiday you didn’t know existed? If your answer is a number higher than 0, I rest my case. BUT, in spite of my Grinchy disposition, I have recently discovered a holiday that I am going to be adding to my calendar immediately: the Global Day of Parents.

Yes, you read that correctly. There is a holiday celebrating parents.

The fact that it is a day instead of a week is disappointing. The fact that I was today-years-old when I learned about it is appalling. And the fact that this holiday is not well-known is a downright travesty.

Let’s face it, being a parent, guardian, or caregiver is no easy task. It is also, often, a thankless one. So if ever a group of folks deserved a day of appreciation, it’s parents.

So let’s all get up to speed on this day so that we can make up for lost time and start celebrating immediately.

What is the Global Day of Parents?

global day of parents
📸Cheyenne N.

This glorious day has been around since 2012. Since the 1980s, the important role of the family has come to the attention of the international community. As part of that recognition, the UN decided to highlight the critical role of parents in rearing, nurturing and protecting children. Celebrated each year on June 1st, “Global Day of Parents provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their ‘selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.’” (Global Day of Parents, UN)

All of which is a fancy-pants way of saying that parents are the bomb. We play a critical, important, and valuable role in shaping our kiddos and our communities. And we give up a lot to make sure our littles grow into functioning members of the planet and not the greedy little narcissists they seem to want so badly to be.

And to that I say, heck yes!

How did it take til 2012 for this to become a thing?

Parenting in a Pandemic

After a year of pandemic living, I’d say most parents are in extra need of a cause for celebration this year. Because, real talk, families are often bearing the brunt of COVID-19.

In their materials on the Global Day of Parents, the UN goes on to say that, “As the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, parents have the responsibility of sheltering their families from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities. Without support from parents, children’s health, education, and emotional well-being is at risk.” (Global Day of Parents, UN)

And, frankly, I don’t think I have ever felt something so deeply in my soul.

Pandemic parenting be like…

Figuring out work-life balance. Raising a well-adjusted child. Keeping said child from licking everything in sight and coming home sick. Somehow taking care of yourself in the midst of this chaos. All of this was hard before.

And COVID has only amplified all that. Especially for essential workers who are putting themselves at risk for the sake of our families and theirs.

So if ever there was a time to give yourself a pat on the back for your parenting prowess, it is now. Because whether you have been baking homemade sourdough and re-organizing, or clinging to sanity by your unmanicured fingernails, you’ve made it this far and that makes you a super parent.

Celebrating Global Day of Parents

📸 Katie P.

If I had a dollar for every time I’d written the words “parenting is hard” somewhere on the Lil Helper blog or website, I’d have enough money to send my boys to college. And while it feels a little cliché to say it, it also feels like it can’t be said enough.

Because parents are such a central part of making the world go round, that we are just expected to be awesome. Sometimes it even feels like we aren’t allowed to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenthood.

Yes, it is something that most of us chose. In fact, it is something that many of us sacrificed to achieve. Yes it is a labour of love. And yes, it is super gratifying. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle. Or that we shouldn’t be acknowledged for overcoming that struggle.

So how do we celebrate? Wear a crown? Make your children throw you a backyard parade and bring you snacks all day? Lock yourself in your room and just sit in silence?

Nothing seems quite enough. But however you mark the day, I hope you know that us parents deserve to be celebrated.

Because we give up a little piece of ourselves to bring it into the world. And because we make the frantic 8:00pm run to the store for cupcake ingredients or a rustic salmon colored shirt.

So, happy Global Day of Parents, from one awesome parent to another.

Share this post with a parent or caregiver you want to acknowledge!


About the Author

Amanda is a teacher and mom of two from small-town Ontario. When she isn’t struggling to keep up with her boys, you can find her reading, crocheting, or writing poop-jokes for Lil Helper’s website, emails, and blog.