Green Tips: Eco Friendly Snow Removal

Green Tips | December 28, 2022

With the first snows of the season already here, it’s time to talk about eco-friendly snow removal. 

The most environmentally-sound way to clear snow is to do it the old fashioned way: grab a shovel (or a broom or an ice pick) and get to work. (Of course, shoveling is a strenuous exercise and should be undertaken only if you are certain you are physically up to the task.)

How to make shoveling less cumbersome?

If you are expecting a big snow storm, shovel in intervals during the storm, so the accumulation doesn’t make the job unmanageable. If you don’t own a shovel or other removal implement, then try to borrow one from a neighbor or purchase a used one. Purchasing used items of any kind reduces the carbon footprint, by eliminating carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting a new product.

What about salt?

EcoWatch posted a detailed article, which outlines eight steps to eco-friendly snow removal. It cites the toxicity of using salt on roadways and paths as a key reason to find green alternatives. The article cited a University of Minnesota study that found 78 percent of the salt applied during winter in the Twin Cities in Minnesota–that’s 284,000 tons worth–ends up polluting either groundwater, a local lake or wetlands.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists the following alternative, non-toxic, biodegradable agents to salt: sand, wood chips, clean clay cat litter, and fireplace/stove ash, among others, to avoid slipping. In Krakow, Poland, they use coffee grinds, which also is recommended.

Visit the EPA website  for information about obtaining EPA-approved de-icers.

Preparation is key.

If you have to clear snow from a business or apartment building, with multiple pathways and possibly a parking lot, the key is to plan before the snow starts falling. Take a cue from the Battery Park City Authority, in lower Manhattan, which gets to work early, applying non-toxic, biodegradable deicer before the snow begins, clearing runoff avenues and activating a heated staircase in a major area.

If you have to use a snow blower or other device, use one that runs on electricity or battery power, not gas. Consumer Reports has posted a list of its recommended snow blowers; scroll down to find the electric or battery-powered ones.

Happy shoveling!


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