"How To" Green Chemistry: New Guidelines for ACS Green Student Chapters

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Changing chemistry - the way it is taught, perceived, and applied - is a huge global task that we need to tackle with a clear and consistent message as a green chemistry community. This transition, of course, won’t happen all at once or all on its own. Concentrated efforts, like creating incentives for undergraduates to explore green chemistry are necessary to generate wider awareness, acceptance, and application of environmentally benign techniques.

The ACS Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award is a small street on this big map of changing how university and college students perceive chemistry for themselves and communicate it to others. Student chapters that wish to become designated “green” chapters must complete and document three “green chemistry activities” which are focused on increasing outreach and raising awareness.

Over the years there have been more and more student chapters submitting applications for the green chemistry award. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and buzz among college students about sustainability initiatives. Activities like recycling programs are necessary and great to do, but the focus of green chemistry is often lost in a broader movement. What’s awesome about green chemistry - but is sometimes overlooked - is that waste can be prevented before it’s even made and chemicals that were never used don’t need to be recycled.

Eight “How-To Green Chemistry” guides on the ACS GCI website will soon be available for download that will help student chapters focus on the chemical aspects beneath the sustainability umbrella. The guides, listed below, provide what a student chapter needs to know to successfully complete a green chemistry activity from definitions to logistical solutions and from everyday examples to discussion prompts:

Getting Green in the Media – provides a framework for spreading the word about green chemistry through online, print, and broadcast communications.

Green Chemistry Demonstrations – information on how to organize and advertise a demonstration as well as full procedures for several green demos.

Organizing a Field Trip – a guide to planning a field trip for students interested in learning more about green chemistry, including resources for finding an appropriate place to visit.

Green Chemistry Scavenger Hunt – advice on creating a scavenger hunt based on green chemistry principles from the rules of the game to suggested items and their relevance.

Hosting a Debate - explains how to organize a debate about green chemistry including suggested topics and common debate formats.

Inviting a Speaker – logistical information for inviting a guest to talk about green chemistry and ideas for appropriate lecture topics.

Greening the Lab – provides a foundation for greening labs at a university or college including how to talk to faculty members about making changes and “focus areas” for improvements.

Hosting a Workshop or Conference – describes what’s needed for a successful green chemistry outreach event such as guidelines for developing a workshop, how to create a budget, and tips for keeping the focus on chemistry.

Our hope is that students can use the guides to gather background information, find inspiration, or as frameworks for their events@. Variations on many of the activities allow flexibility for targeting a general versus a scientific audience. The guides also pull together sources from other green chemistry efforts such as Beyond Benign and the Greener Education Materials for Chemists (GEMs) database. Collaboration is key in spreading the word about anything, and the integration of information from various organizations will hopefully result in a stronger green chemistry community.

We’re excited to see how student chapters use these guides to focus their green chemistry efforts. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to email us at gci@acs.org.

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