Green Child Care


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Vision: Environmental health and sustainable habits for all Alameda County children age 0-5.

Background: About 70% of a typical preschool waste stream is reusable, recyclable or compostable. From 2011 to 2020, our Green Child Care Program worked to divert waste from local landfills and educate teachers and preschool age children about the 4R's (reduce, reuse, recycle and rot). We have diverted over 380 tons of waste from the local landfill and educated over 700 teachers and 2,200 preschool children.

In January, 2015 we convened key stakeholders, including two County Supervisors, to kick-off the Green Child Care Ambassadors pilot. You can read more about the event here (PDF - 472kb) *.

What We Offered:

  • Technical assistance and developmentally appropriate curriculum to child care programs interested in setting up new recycling and compost services
  • Green purchasing assistance and County contract "piggybacking" opportunities
  • Local trainings on a variety of green child care topics

We are proud to be leading the nation in providing this level of technical assistance on sustainability and environmental health in early care and education settings.

For more information please contact our Green Child Care team at

map of green child care sites

Click image above to view an interactive map of green child care sites

Select a topic of interest:

Click video link for a look at what Green Child Care can mean in the classroom

Pipeline image

Green Child Care Pipeline - view PDF for more details (PDF - 335kb) *

Green Child Care Resources

The Planning Council has centralized some free or low cost resources and information to help child care programs address environmental health issues in their buildings and operations, including a Green Care checklist, recent environmental related laws, and searchable databases for non-toxic toys and art supplies.

The Child Care Planning Council is listing these resources for informational purposes and does NOT endorse any of them!

Overview of Green Child Care Laws

  • Green Child Care Laws 2018
    A brief summary of state and local laws related to lead testing in water, integrated pest management, recycling and other topics. More... *(PDF - 111 kb)

Green Child Care Checklists and Certification Systems

Eco Healthy Child Care is a national program that offers a checklist and certification for providers and a list of Eco Healthy centers for parents:

Get Bay Area Green Business Certified! A partnership of local environmental agencies and utilities assists, offers incentives, and verifies that participating businesses conserve energy and water, minimize waste, prevent pollution, and shrink their carbon footprints. For more information and to apply, visit

One requirement of the Green Business Program is to adopt a green purchasing policy. You can download the Alameda County Green Child Care Purchasing Guide (PDF - 2mb)* to help design your purchasing policy.

Voluntary Environmental Checklist for Early Care and Education Facilities is a helpful checklist to assist you in identifying potential sources of harmful chemicals at or near your facility.

Mandatory Recycling Ordinance

The Legislature and Governor Brown set an ambitious goal of 75 percent recycling, composting or source reduction of solid waste by 2020 (

In Alameda County, the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance requires most business to have recycling and compost services in place. Warnings and fines are now being issued.

Visit to find more information on the Ordinance and what rules apply in your city. is Alameda County's major local resource on RRRR information. has resources, including grants, to support with recycling.

General RRRR Curricula Ideas

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers preschool curriculum with the "Wee Recyclers" activity guide and online resources:

StopWaste offers a free 4Rs teaching kit to all formal and informal educators in Alameda County:

SF Environment offers K-5 lesson plans that can be easily adapted to pre-K settings:

Recycling Signs

The Stop Waste website has downloadable versions include Recycling, Composting, and Mixed Paper signs.

"Rotting" or Composting

There are two ways to do the "rot" thing:

  1. Commercial Compost provided through your waste hauler (green cart)
  2. On-site Worm/Garden Compost that you can DIY

The Planning Council put together a checklist for setting up your own worm bin.

How To Compost in the Preschool Classroom

Resource Title



Wastes: Teacher Resources and Tools Environmental Protection Agency

A collection of waste-related resources and tools for teachers.

National, USA

Compost School, University of Maine, Cooperative Extension

Extensive composting resource list, including online links.

Orono, Maine, USA

Mary Appelhof's website for worm composting resources. Online resources from one of the leading experts in the field of vermiculture.

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Cornell Composting Cornell Waste Management Institute

Website includes a detailed section specifically about composting in schools, composting case studies in New York, and resources for composting.

New York, USA

Green Cleaning and Safer Disinfectants and Sanitizers

COVID-19 Cleaning

4Cs of Alameda County has staff with green cleaning expertise. See their Fresh Air Cleaning Kit Recipes.

California Child Care Health Program
This website provides green cleaning information, and various green cleaning fact sheets.

Good Guide
This website provides third party information to connect consumers with healthy, green, and socially responsible products. Many common cleaners have been rated. A mobile app is available for Apple and Android devices to scan products before you buy.

EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning is an online hazard guide for household cleaning products to help people find products that fully disclose their ingredients and contain fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested.

Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education
The Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting Toolkit presents practical information on how to keep early care and education (ECE) environments clean and safe using practices and products that are less hazardous and that protect young children and staff from infectious diseases.

Healthy Schools Network has information on green cleaning and healthy products.

Healthy School Campaign: Green Clean Schools
This site provides access to a useful green cleaning guide titled "The Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools.

Top 10 Tips for Implementing Green Cleaning Affordably(PDF - 315kb) *

SF Environment Safer Products and Practices for Disinfecting Surfaces (see Appendix A for recommended products)

Green Schools Initiative directory of asthma-safe disinfectants and sanitizers

SF Asthma Taskforce 2013 Update: Bleach-free Disinfection and Sanitizing for Child Care directory of asthma-safe disinfectants and sanitizers

Clean & Healthy New York easy-to-use table of EPA-registered sanitizers and disinfectants that are asthma-friendly and Eco-Healthy

Options for purchasing green cleaners and asthma-safe sanitizers and disinfectants (PDF - 445kb) * from our Alameda County Green Child Care Purchasing Guide

No matter if you use bleach or a safer alternative, you should only sanitize and disinfect when necessary. See when Title 22 Community Care Licensing requires sanitization and disinfecting here(PDF - 205kb) * and use this helpful chart from Caring for Our Children.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

What is IPM?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is simply managing pests while reducing the use of harmful pesticides.

NEW Healthy Schools Act Requirements for Licensed Child Care Centers

There are new requirements for child care providers related to pesticide use. See an overview of the Healthy Schools Act and its new requirements here. (PDF - 383kb) *
For more information, visit


The UCSF Child Care Health Program has IPM resources for child care centers and family child care homes, including curricula, pest sheets, and checklists:

Green Buildings

Lead Abatement Assistance and Resources
Alameda County's lead poisoning prevention program offers online information, classes, and services to help support healthy living and working environments, including asthma reduction and cleaning resources:

Green Child Care Buildings
Project FROG manufactures non-toxic modulars which can house child care programs:

The United States Green Building Council
USGBC leads a national building industry coalition to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. USGBC has developed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System, as a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. USGBC offers trainings and certifications based on the LEED program and hosts the annual green building conference Green Build

The Coalition for High Performance Schools
This collaborative offers building certification programs and other school related resources that are adaptable for child care facilities

Gardens/Outdoor Spaces

Alameda County Master Gardeners offer seminars and an extensive website of resources with a special section on resources for School Gardens, including composting:

Join the Farm-to-Preschool network and find resources on gardening curricula:

Artificial Turf Testing

Watch this video from Center for Environmental Health on their free turf testing for lead and best practices for minimizing the impact:

Bay Friendly Landscaping

Resources to create outdoor spaces that are in harmony with the Bay Area environment with suggestions in areas such as drought tolerant and low water landscapes.

Natural Playspaces

This website offers resources on how to create natural outdoor environments for children.

Green Purchasing: Nap Mats, Toys, Art Supplies, and More

Providers can use our Green Child Care Purchasing Guide (PDF - 2mb)* to ensure newly purchased items are safe and sustainable. The guide includes policy items you can adopt for your program, plus definitions, best practices, and product options.

Did you know that child care providers in Alameda County can "piggyback" on County contracts to get great pricing on green products? See our piggybacking flyer (PDF - 269kb) * for more information.

Nap Mats:

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) studies and campaigns against the use of flame retardants in furniture, nap mats, baby products and other everyday items. For a listing of nap mats and child-sized furniture tested for flame retardants, a listing of companies committed to removing flame retardants, updates on regulations, and more on how you can get involved, visit:

Tips to Reduce Exposure to Flame Retardants (PDF - 66kb) *

Flame Retardant Free Children's Nap Mat Resources


The Oakland based Center for Environmental Health can test toys for toxic substances:

Art Supplies:

Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. — This site acts as a leading authority on available safe, non-toxic art and creative materials.

The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

Conserve resources and your budget and buy brand-used supplies from the Depot located at 4695 Telegraph Ave in Oakland. Join the Green Educators program to save an addition 10% on all purchases.

Book Recommendations

Download this list *(PDF - 163 kB) of environmental education books for preschoolers.

Food and Serving

Local Food Procurement

Did you know that if you participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), you can use those funds to buy from farmers' markets and plant edible gardens? For more information on purchasing local food for you center check out this PDF: Local Procurement for Child Care Centers*(PDF) or the Farm to Preschool website:

Regional Food Service Vendors

Revolution foods - organic

Chefables: reusable, recyclable or compostable containers

Non-Plastic Reusables:

View examples of products(PDF - 413kB)* that will reduce waste and protect the health of the children in your care.

Compostable Serving Supplies
Costco Online

  • Eco Green Wares 6': 1000 for $44.99 (less than one cent/plate)
  • Eco Green Wares 9': 500 for $49.99 (.10/plate)

The San Francisco Department of the Environment maintains this list of distributors of compostable products, such as plates, cutlery, and to-go containers. Includes distributors' contact information.

StopWaste also has a helpful guide to purchasing compostable food service ware.

Zero Waste Lunches CA Recycle website with Zero Waste lunch poster, sample letter to parents, and other resources:

This website has a flyer on why and how to encourage zero waste lunches, the costs of zero waste vs. disposable lunches, other website links, etc..

Sample letter to parents on zero waste lunches: Zero Waste Letter *(PDF - 29 kB)

Parent Engagement

Send this flyer*(PDF - 179 kB) home with parents to make sure kids are practicing the 4Rs at home and at preschool.

Stop Waste has several flyers for County residents on sheet mulching, measuring the "good stuff" in your garbage, food scrap recycling, and a shopping list template to reduce food waste at home.

Water: Conservation and Lead

  • Complete a water audit of your business and receive free water-saving materials and save on your water bill! Contact your local water district (EBMUD or Alameda County Water District)
  • Remember: worm compost and mulch are great for water retention in the garden!
  • For how to conserve water while complying with ECERS hand washing requirements, download this flyer. *(PDF - 264 kB)
  • Thinking about installing a rain barrel? Check out how to DIY, but make sure you comply with Alameda County regulations.

Water: Conservation and Lead Curriculum:

Meatless Mondays:

The water needs of livestock are much greater than those of vegetables and grains. Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef, whereas it takes approximately 39 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables. Going meat free one day a week is also good for your health!
Vegetarian meals and snacks for children can meet the CACFP Meal Pattern requirements with some planning. Get some great meat-free snack ideas and a complete 6-week calendar of vegetarian lunches here: