Green chemistry is a rapidly developing innovative approach in chemistry which focuses on protecting the environment and human health. It generally refers to “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances” (Anastas, 2005). Also, it is believed to have emerged as a response to “the need to reduce the damage of the environment by man-made materials and the processes used to produce them” (Dhage, 2013, p.518). Learning about green chemistry has been great, especially given the fact that I have already used green chemistry products and principles in my daily practice. Now, having learned more about green chemistry, I am planning to further apply it to my everyday experience.
First of all, I promote green chemistry through my use of biodegradable plastics. Specifically, I use food containers produced from Ingeo polymer. Minnesota-based company NatureWorks produces Ingeo in the following way. First, they capture CO2 and sequester it from plants like cassava, corn, and sugar cane; next, they transform CO2 into sugar molecules of long chains. They further create lactic acid, which is the buiding block for Ingeo, and then transform to lactide. Finally, they polymerize lactide into Ingeo PLA. Whereas I pay more for innovative products, I know that I contribute to zero waste because the serviceware that I purchase from NatureWorks is subject to composting, produces low carbon footprint, and has a number of end-of-life choices. In particular, I use takeout trays as well as deli containers produced by NatureWorks. Sometimes I would also use their cutlery, plates, paper hot cups, and straws. These all are shipped to me once I order them from a website.
Also, I promote green chemistry through avoiding traditional alkyd paints. It is known that alkyd paints, which are oil-based, typically give off lots of volatile organic compounds as the paints dry. This leads to adverse impacts on the enviornemnt. When refurbishing old furniture from my grandparents house, I bought Chempol® MPS paint. This paint, as I was advised, was developed from biobased Sefose® oils instead of solvents based on petroleum (P& G and CCP, n.d.). Its producers, Cook Composites and Polymers together with Procter & Gamble, used the technique where soya oil is mixed with sugar, which produces the substance able to replace paint solvents and paint resins derived from fossil fuels. As a resut, even I paid slightly more, I benefitted from using a safer paint and the one that generates far less toxic wastem (as it turns out, by around 50%).
Having applied some of green chemistry principles in life and learnt about more accessible options of using green chemistry developments in daily life, I am planning to urge the local council to use green chemistry in sewage treatment. Lennevey & Schanti (2017) exlain the hazards to the envoironment posed by traditionally used ammoniacal nitrogen in wastewater treatment. What they suggest is that the characteristics of phytoremediation make it applicable to sewage treatment based on the green chemistry principles. Based on a consistent review of multiple experimental studies, Lennevey & Schanti (2017) emphasize the green chemistry benefits resulting from replacing ammoniacal nitrogen with phytoremediation, which are sustainability and cost-effectiveness in comparison with other remediation technologies based on ammonical nitrogen use.
In conclusion, many parts of our life are potentially areas for applying green chemistry products and principles. My use of enviornemntally friendly food containers and Chempol® MPS paint is a small but meaningful step forward. Yet, supported with additional knowledge, I will advance green chemistry ideas into the community. When the decision to replace traditional wastewater treatment with the one that follows green chemistry standards is made, I feel that my contribution will be greater.
- Anastas, P. T. (2005). Green chemistry. In C. Hempstead, & W. E. Worthington (Eds.), Encyclopedia of 20th century technology. London, UK: Routledge. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/routt/green_chemistry/0?institutionId=5865.
- Dhage, S. (2013). Applications of green chemistry principles in everyday life. International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Chemistry, 3, 518-520.
- Kinidi, L., & Salleh, S. (2017). Phytoremediation of nitrogen as green chemistry for wastewater treatment system. International Journal of Chemical Engineering (1687806X), 1-12.
- NatureWorks (2018). What is Ingeo? Retrieved from https://www.natureworksllc.com/
- P&G and CCP (n.d.). Chempol® MPS resins and Sefose® sucrose esters enable high-performance low-VOC alkyd paints and coatings. Retrieved from https://www.acs.confex.com/acs/green09/recordingredirect.cgi/id/537