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Green Chemistry Activities for ACS Student Chapters

Valued Contributor III
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Hey, undergrads! Looking for some green chemistry activities for your ACS Student Chapter? Great news, we’ve got boatloads full of great activities that can even be done virtually. In particular, the green chemistry activities from past ACS Program-in-a-Box or Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) events are perfect options to do virtually with your Chapter mates. Take a look at the green chemistry activities available for the following past ACS events:

  • The Evolving Periodic Table and the Future of Energy Storage
  • Voyage to Mars: Red Planet Chemistry
  • Riding the Wave of Green Chemistry: How to Enhance Awareness of Plastics in the Ocean

Another great option would be to watch a past green chemistry webinar and host a discussion. Here are a few of the latest ACS Webinars focused on green and sustainable chemistry:

For more ideas, you can also check out activities submitted by your peers from across the U.S. on our resources page.

Remember, in order to qualify as a green chemistry event, you need to have at least six members of your chapter participate, and be sure to include the specifics of how your activity incorporated green chemistry in your Chapter Report. Please be specific!  

One of the most common pitfalls we see in Chapter Reports is not being able to differentiate between green chemistry, sustainability and environmental chemistry. Not sure how to tell the difference? Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Sustainability is the broadest of these concepts and incorporates ideas that impact people, the planet and prosperity (i.e., the triple bottom line). There might be efforts that your Chapter pursues that are great sustainability efforts, but don’t necessarily relate to green chemistry practices, like a campus composting or recycling program.
  • Environmental chemistry is the study of chemistry in natural systems. This could be understanding chemistry at work in land, air and water systems. Therefore, an activity focusing on water quality would be more of an environmental chemistry project.
  • Finally, green chemistry is based on a set of chemistry design principles that aim to eliminate or minimize hazards and pollution and maximize resource efficiency, while designing systems holistically and using a life cycle thinking approach. Therefore, educational and outreach events that focus on these concepts are considered green chemistry activities.


Keeping this in mind, the following activities do NOT count as green chemistry activities:

  • Park, stream, road or other clean-ups
  • Recycling drive
  • Water monitoring
  • Earth Day celebration without green chemistry component specified
  • Any activity with only one member involved
  • Attending three talks by home university professors
  • General sustainability practices, (e.g. using biodegradable coffee filters)
  • Most movie screenings (especially when only linked to climate change without a chemistry context)
  • Outreach activities or demos with no green chemistry component

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out at any time ( We’re always happy to help with ideas and to serve as a sounding board for green chemistry activity planning.