A Greener Daycare

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How Green is your daycare?

Many of us with young children are making greener choices in our daily lives. Small innocent faces are fantastic for propelling us to find the energy and time to create new habits and try healthier alternatives.   Toxins are all around us and in almost everything. Sometimes it feels overwhelming when we attempt to make healthier choices. What products do you choose? What’s most important?  Where do you start?

A model and a good checklist are two great places to begin.  Sara Hart is a daycare provider who decided to make some changes in her home daycare and she is an inspiration for many of us.  Here is what she had to say about her decision to create a greener daycare.

I came across the Oregon Environmental Council while looking around the web to see how other daycares were greening their centres.  Unfortunately, I could not find anything similar, or even close, in Canada. I was happy to find that the OEC had recently expanded to a US National Program and was also willing to endorse Canadians who met their criteria.  The OEC now endorses approx. 1223 providers which care for 47839 children across the United States and Canada.  Although the program is not well known in Canada,  I applied for endorsement as a symbol, to parents and myself, of my commitment to creating the healthiest possibly environment for the children in my care.  

Sara Hart
Hart Home Daycare
Learning Through Play

If you visit Sara’s website you will see how she clearly outlines the steps she has made in her daycare to meet the environmental criteria.  Here is her own checklist from her website.

The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) provides an Eco-Healthy Child Care Checklist which has 25 environmental-health criteria for daycare centres. Of those 25 criteria, daycare centres must meet at least 20 of 25 items. We are proud to have met these standards and to have been the first daycare in Ottawa (and Ontario) endorsed by the OEC.

  • We use non-toxic techniques both inside and outside our home to prevent and control pests (both insects and weeds). If a serious threat remains and pesticide application is the only viable option, parents are notified in advance and a licensed professional applies the least toxic, effective, product at a time when children will not be exposed to the application area for at least 12 hours.
  • We avoid conditions that lead to excess moisture, which contributes to the growth of mold and mildew. We maintain adequate ventilation and air flow, we repair water leaks and we keep humidity within a desirable range.
  • We do not allow cars or other vehicles to idle near our home.
  • We do not permit smoking on our property or in sight of the children.
  • We use biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products and least toxic disinfection products. When other products are required, they are used only for their intended purpose in strict accordance with all label instructions. We store cleaning products where children cannot access them.
  • We only use chlorine bleach when and where it is required or recommended by licensing agencies or by the Day Nurseries Act.
  • We use only low-VOC latex paints and do not paint when children are present.
  • We use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula, and we run the water for 5-10 seconds or until it feels noticeably colder.
  • We do not wear shoes in our home.
  • We do not use any mercury-containing thermometers. Instead we use digital thermometers.
  • We securely store and recycle all used batteries and fluorescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Furniture is in good condition without foam or inside stuffing exposed (same goes for stuffed animals or any other foam item).
  • We do not have wall-to-wall carpet in the main daycare areas.
  • Area rugs are vacuumed daily and cleaned at least twice a year using biodegradable cleaners.
  • We use only non-toxic art supplies approved by the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI).
  • We avoid toys made with PVC and instead use toys that are made from natural, sustainable materials such as wood, cotton, cornstarch, bamboo, and soy.
  • We recycle paper/cardboard, glass, aluminum, and plastic bottles and reuse as much as possible.
  • We keep our garbage covered at all times to avoid attracting pests and to minimize odours.
  • We offer natural, organic foods when possible and support local farmers. We limit processed foods.

Feeling inspired? I certainly was!  What a fantastic and straightforward way to make positive changes in your daycare environment.  If you would like to learn more about getting your home daycare endorsed visit the OEC.

Thank you to Sara Hart for her dedication and commitment to our planet and the next generation.


  1. This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something
    which helped me. Cheers!

  2. K from London ON says

    This list makes me happy to see we are on the right track for our daycare. We have gone greener by building square raised gardens….composting indoors and outside. Our indoor compost bins have red wiggler worms eating up the produce at lightning speed (its called vermicomposting) The kids love to help with composting and gardening. My motto is only take what you need so there is no waste. That goes for running the tap when we wash hands, soap, toilet paper, tissues, craft materials, sharing snacks, turning out lights. Taking or using only what you need will help them be considerate of others in all sorts of areas of their lives.

  3. Phillipp says

    Excellent post. I’m dealing with some of these issues as well..