What is green chemistry?

Green chemistry illustrationGreen chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use.

There are some great curriculum and web tools on green chemistry you can use to educate yourself and your co-workers about green chemistry from The New England Consortium, Beyond Benign, and The Institute for Green Science.

Green chemistry solutions include the substitution of dangerous chemicals with alternatives that are safe. In January 2010, the BlueGreen Alliance and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) issued a report on how cleaning offices with safer chemicals can be combined with a move to day shift cleaning. The report was titled Clean Sweep: How a New Approach to Cleaning Commercial Buildings in the Twin Cities Can Protect Our Health and the Environment While Securing Jobs and Saving Money.

In May, 2011, the BlueGreen Alliance released a report on The Economic Benefits of a Green Chemical Industry in the United States: Renewing Manufacturing Jobs While Protecting Health and the Environment. The study, produced by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), showed how federal chemical policy reform can support job creation in the U.S. chemical industry while protecting public health and the environment.