Shovel More, Salt Less: Eco-Friendly Snow and Ice Management

Dec 21 2017

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Don’t want this to be you? Follow the tips below!

The winter season is in full force as we enter the new year. As the burden of snow and ice become a daily hassle, here are a few tips for making your snow and ice removal less damaging to our soil and water resources. Not only are you protecting the health of our planet, but your own health and that of your family and pets as you prevent unsafe chemicals from being tracked into your home.

  1. Break out the shovel! Proactively shovel snow as it falls to reduce the need for chemical deicers. It avoids back-breaking work after a heavy snowfall and will ameliorate ice issues before they even begin. This is the most environmentally friendly method since the only ingredient is good old-fashioned elbow grease!
  2. If you have a large area to clear and must use a snow blower, opt for an electric- or battery-, or hybrid-powered model. These models are healthier for you (no exhaust to breathe in), don’t require as much maintenance, and may reduce emissions depending on how you source your electricity.
  3. If a gasoline blower is needed, opt for the most efficient possible: two-stage, four-stroke blowers are the best in this category. Recruit a neighbor to invest in one together. Save unused gas at the end of the season by adding a stabilizer.
  4. Consider tackling ice issues by adding traction to the sidewalks before applying a chemical. Non-clumping kitty litter, sand, and dried out coffee grounds are great options. Use kitty litter sparingly as it may alter the soil structure of lawns lining the sidewalk.
  5. For thicker layers of ice, try breaking it up with an ice chopper and clearing it away with a shovel.
  6. If a chemical ice melt is necessary, be sure to read the ingredients rather than the sweeping claims advertised on the front of bags. You can find a list of products certified with the US EPA Safer Choice label here by selecting “Deicers” under the product type.
    • Avoid sodium chloride – this is the most important tip. There are many salt-free options out there!
    • Consider the neighborhood dogs (and wild critters) and find pet-friendly ice melt. If its qualified to be pet friendly, its also much better for our soil and water.
    • There is no such thing as a perfectly safe ice melting chemical, so do your best to avoid it altogether!

Watch this great video from DuPage County Stormwater Management and learn all about water-friendly snow and ice management and what you can do to protect our water resources during the winter.

Friendly reminder: while tempting, don’t let your kids eat snow! It essentially scrubs the air of toxins which are then absorbed into the snow that lands on the ground.

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