Tips To Make Your Day Care More Eco-Friendly
Children are the future, and we want to give them a home that they’ll want to inherit. That means taking eco-friendly steps in our lives and making sure we bring our children up in an eco-friendly environment.
Most children start to learn about recycling within their first few years of elementary school. Still, it’s never too early to introduce children to these ideas by example. That’s why we’ve compiled the best tips to make your day care more eco-friendly.
Cut Resource Use
We can’t control the number of natural resources others use. However, we can monitor how much we use in our lives. Fortunately, in this day and age, there are many ways to cut back on resource use without impacting the care we give to day care kids.
Every year, the average person uses hundreds of pounds of paper. The paper-making process produces a great deal of air pollution and contributes to deforestation.
While day care kids don’t typically require as much paper as an elementary-age child, administrators still often need to use paper through reports and forms. A simple way of reducing paper waste is by communicating electronically in the form of emails, text messages, or phone calls.
We use energy for various reasons throughout our day, especially given the number of electronics we use. But this only gives us more opportunities and ways to save on energy use. Here are a few things that you can implement immediately:
- Turning off the lights every time children leave the room
- Using smaller lamps in the classroom instead of all the overhead lights
- Keeping devices turned off instead of in standby mode
- Tinting windows and installing blinds to cut down on heating and cooling energy use
- Replacing lightbulbs with energy-efficient alternatives
Some communities have programs that will offer grants to switch to solar power and other alternative energies. As a long-term project, you can see if your area offers a similar program for a long-term solution.
Plastic is one of the more common sources of litter in the world, whether it’s plastic water bottles, wrappers, or other types of containers. An easy way to reduce plastic use is to switch to using reusable water bottles, bags, and containers or encourage your kids to bring them.
Of course, not every family can provide reusable bottles for their children. Even so, you can still provide a recycling bin in class that kids can drop plastic water bottles in or reuse the bottles for craft projects.
Day care centers are not huge sources of water use compared to other businesses. However, there are still places where day cares can reduce water use. If your center has a washing machine for cleaning nap-time blankets and other supplies, strive to invest in an eco-friendly washer.
If you are responsible for your lawn care, there are a few ways to conserve water here too. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn will help conserve water, reducing the amount you have to add to the soil. Or you can forgo a grass lawn altogether in favor of a moss lawn if your area will allow it.
Reconsider Your Cleaning Regimen
Keeping your day care center clean and sanitized is more important than ever. This need has prompted many centers to turn to harsh chemicals, which, along with contributing to pollution, can degrade your center’s air quality. This can make things difficult for children with allergies, breathing problems, or chemical sensitivities.
When choosing cleaning supplies for your center, opt for eco-friendly, chemical-free options, such as anti-bacterial essential oil-based cleaners. You can also consider relying more on reusable cleaning rags than paper towels.
We all want our kids to have the best products out there, so we often turn to buying all new supplies, whether art tools or books.
There is nothing wrong with buying new things for day cares, but opening up your center to donations from others helps take items that may have otherwise gone in the garbage and puts them to use. This also helps build your community’s connection to your day care.
Pay Attention to the Products You Buy
Inevitably, you will have to buy some of the supplies you’ll need to run a day care, and that’s OK. There are many sustainable options to add to your business’ grocery list as a way to make your day care more eco-friendly. A few options include:
- Snacks that aren’t individually wrapped
- Ethically sourced, organic snack foods
- Paper vs. plastic bags
- Paper made from recycled materials
- Reusable containers
In most cases, you can find companies that provide alternatives to many of the more common products on your list. If you’re in doubt, health grocery stores are good resources for finding these brands.
Day care-aged kids can’t always understand all the intricacies of the ozone and the pacific garbage patch. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start gently introducing them to the idea of taking care of the environment.
Eco-education doesn’t have to look like a lesson plan, but you can incorporate it into the activities you do every day. For example:
- Teaching kids what items go in the trash and which go in the recycling
- Having a garden that the kids help take care of
- Having a compost pile
- Making crafts out of reused things
- Practicing cleaning up the day care yard
Children are just learning how they see the world when they’re day care-age. Starting to build habits, like recycling and composting, will set them on the right track for the rest of their lives.
Invest in Eco-Friendly Décor
Day care centers should be colorful places, filled with all the wonder that the children bring to them. Fortunately, you can have a beautifully decorated environment without sacrificing sustainability. A few ways to do it include:
- Choosing eco-friendly flooring options, like vinyl, bamboo, or cork
- Buying second-hand furniture or furniture made from ethically sourced wood
- Bringing plants into the room
- Buying eco-friendly rugs without VOCs
- DIYing repurposed decorations
Paints are another common source of pollution through their use of harsh chemicals. So a simple way to add color to your space without adding to pollution is to use water-based paints. ECOS Paints’ non-toxic* paints for cribs are kid-friendly and come in various colors. They’re perfect for making a brighter, more beautiful world for our kids.
*Non-toxic - Conforms to ASTM-D4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.