Teaching chemistry with sustainability

Antonia G. Rojas-Fernández, Leonor Aguilar-Santelises, Margarita Cruz Millán, Miguel Aguilar-Santelises, Araceli García -del Valle


Increased awareness on a critical association between the natural environment and human development gave rise multiple projects, aiming to protect the natural environment and to preserve it for future generations. Chemists must be acquainted with the principles of green chemistry and the need to practice experimental chemistry with cleaner chemical reactions and sustainability. This is a major concern for all the educators forming new professionals within the Chemistry, Pharmacology and Biology curricula in the Faculty for Higher Studies Zaragoza from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. With this in mind, we start our teachings explaining from the very beginning, how important it is to perform microscale techniques and to follow the principles of green chemistry in the Basic Science Laboratory. Furthermore, we have modified, designed and evaluated working procedures related with chemical synthesis, kinetics and calorimetry. By doing this, we managed to greatly reduce the amount of reagents required and residues generated. Some laboratory reagents have been substituted with renewable substances. We have also included in our programme a regular treatment of residues generated during everyday laboratory work. Our goal is to emphasize the importance of minimizing the environmental impact of chemistry and to prepare environmentally concerned professionals who keep sustainability as main priority and perform chemistry procedures with good laboratory practice routines.


Education; sustainability; green chemistry; microscale; experimental chemistry

Full Text:



Anastas P.T. and Warner J.C. (1998). Green Chemistry. New York: Oxford University Press.

Brixey-Williams S. (2015). Which countries do the most to protect the environment? Available at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/09/which-countries-do-the-most-to- protect-the-environment/ Accessed november 21, 2016.

Bybee R.W. (1991). Planet Earth in crisis: How should science educators respond? Am. Biol. Teach. 53:146–153. http://abt.ucpress.edu/content/53/3/146.


Cannon A.S. and Warner J.C. (2011). The science of green chemistry and its role in chemicals policy and educational reform. New Solut. 21: 499-517.


Carson R. (1962). Silent Spring. Fawcett Publications Inc. Greenwich, Conn.

Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DEDS). Shaping the Education of Tomorrow: 2012 Full-length Report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Available at http://www.unesco.org/new/es/santiago/education/education- for-sustainable-development/decade-of-education-for-sustainable-development-desd/. Accessed November 21, 2016.

Fisher M.A. (2012). Chemistry and the challenge of sustainability. J. Chem. Educ. 89:179- 180. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed2007923.


Luque R. (2012). Green Chemistry, Chemistry research and applications. Nova Science Publishers.

Matlin S.A., Goverdhan M., Hopf H. and Krief A. (2015). The role of chemistry in inventing a sustainable future. Nature Chemistry 7: 941–943. doi:10,1038/nchem.2389.

Meadows D.H., Meadows D.L., Randers J. and Behrens W.W. (1972). The limits of growth. A report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind. A Potomac Associates book. Available at http://www.sustainablelifestyles.ac.uk/news/tj-club-of-rome Accessed November 21, 2016.

Morales-Galicia M.L., Martínez J.O., Reyes-Sánchez L.B., Hernández O.M., Arroyo Razo G.A., Valdivia A.O. (2011). ¿Qué tan verde es un experimento? Educ. Quim. 22: 240-248.

National Microscale Chemistry Centre (NMCC). (2002). Available at http://www.microscale.org/who.asp. Accessed November 21, 2016.

Perkins Marsh G. (1864). Man and Nature: or physical geography as modified by human action. Kessinger Publishing co., Whitefish, Montana, USA.

Singh M.M., Szafran Z. and Pike R.M. (1999). Microscale chemistry and green chemistry: complementary pedagogies. J. Chem. Educ. 76: 1684-1684. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed076p1684.


Stewart A.F., Williams A.L., Lofgreen J.E., Edgar L.J.G., Hoch L.B. and Dicks A.P. (2016). Chemistry writing instruction and training: Implementing a comprehensive approach to improving student communication skills. J. Chem. Educ. 93: 86–92.


Vilches A., Gil-Pérez D. (2011). Papel de la Química y su ense-anza en la construcción de un futuro sostenible. Educ. Quim. 22: 103–116.

Vilches A., Gil-Pérez D. (2013). Ciencia de la sostenibilidad: un nuevo campo de conocimientos al que la química y la educación química están contribuyendo. Educ. Quim. 24: 199-206.


Watson W.J.W. (2012). How do the fine chemical pharmaceutical, and related industries approach green chemistry and sustainability? Green Chem. 14: 251-259. http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlepdf/2012/gc/c1gc15904f.


World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). (1987). Our common future. Available at http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2016.

Wright S.W. (2002). Tick tock, a vitamin C clock. J. Chem. Educ. 79: 40A. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ed079p40.


Abstract Views

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Cited-By (articles included in Crossref)

This journal is a Crossref Cited-by Linking member. This list shows the references that citing the article automatically, if there are. For more information about the system please visit Crossref site

1. Sürdürülebilirliğin Temel Taşı: Ekolojik Ayak İzi
Doğal Afetler ve Çevre Dergisi  first page: 451  year: 2020  
doi: 10.21324/dacd.630825

This journal is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NonDerivs 4.0 Internacional License.

Universitat Politècnica de València

e-ISSN: 2341-2593   https://dx.doi.org/10.4995/muse