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76 ACS Students Chapters Excel at Green Chemistry!

Contributor III
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The Undergraduate Student Chapter Awards Ceremony at the ACS National Meeting in Orlando is coming soon, and this year we will be congratulating 76 student chapters who have won the Green Chemistry Award! Included in this number are four International Chapters –newly eligible this year—who won: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Universidad Icesi (Colombia), Universidad de Costa Rica, and the University of Delhi (India).

The Green Chemistry Award signifies that student chapters have successfully done at least three activities in the school year focused on green chemistry.

One of the most important aspects of this award is demonstrating that the chapter understands the difference between general sustainability, environmental chemistry, and green chemistry—three related but different concepts.

As the Georgia State University Student Chapter put it:

“In previous years, it was thought that green chemistry had the same definition as sustainability, and that green chemistry was just about reusing, recycling, and cleaning up. This year, it was learned that green chemistry is being conscious as chemists about the environmental impacts at every step of your work. Green chemistry calls for designing ways to prevent waste down to the molecular level. It is not using chemistry to clean up water and air pollution or waste that was already in an environment. It is about implementing greener methods and technology that does not create waste in the first place to be cleaned up.”

One way to get a firm start on the right track is by attending a relevant ACS webinar or Program-in-a-Box and using the green chemistry tie-in activities that ACS GCI has prepared. The upcoming February 26th Program-in-a-Box on the Periodic Table will include a green chemistry activity.@ Past events can also be used, including a dive into bioplastics and EPA’s Safer Choice Program.

Of course, there is no shortage of ideas for how chapters can go green—just look as a few examples from this year’s winners!

Students from Heidelberg University held a green lab contest were students wrote essays evaluating a reaction of their choice and how it could become a greener reaction using green chemistry design principles. The papers were judged by faculty with winning ideas to be considered for incorporation into labs next year.

Northeastern University students hosted a number of excellent speakers covering topics such as the importance of design for degradability, using flow chemistry to reduce waste and improve safety, and the challenges of degradability in modern polymers and how green chemistry could approach this problem.

Students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham created two trivia games—a green chemistry Jeopardy and Family Feud. Green chemistry trivia topics were divided into the areas of medicine, diseases, public policy, the environment, famous chemists and famous sites of ethical green chemistry issues.

The University of Detroit Mercy students taught a group of third graders about green chemistry using M&M’s to demonstrate atom economy. The importance of reducing waste was brought home when all the green M&M’s had to go in the “waste”—a beaker filled with water—and could not be eaten.

Wilkes University students made biodiesel and glycerin from waste oil produced by the campus cafeteria. The biodiesel was offered to the Wilke’s engineering department and the glycerin was later used to make soap in a general chemistry lab. The students learned about preventing pollution, producing biodegradable products and creating an energy efficient product.

If you are coming to Orlando, make sure to attend the CHED symposia Green Chemistry Student Chapters: Stories of Success to hear from a selection of ACS Student Chapters on their green chemistry initiatives. Co-organized by ACS GCI, the session will be held on Monday, April 1, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the Convention Center, Room W311C.

The ACS Student Chapter Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Convention Center, Valencia Ballroom A.