The Northeast has been hit with a slew of major snowstorms, and there’s more bad weather in the forecast. With snow and ice blanketing paths, driveways and sidewalks, speedy snow removal is a must. All too often, however, we’re tempted to use chemicals and air-polluting snow blowers to get the job done.
The need for ice and snow removal will only intensify in the years ahead as climate change brings with it escalating trends in extreme precipitation. Instead of relying on snow removal practices that hurt the environment, consider these eco-friendly alternatives that will also get the job done.
Try Some Muscle Power: A Shovel!
The most simple and economical solution to ice and snow removal? The reliable shovel! In addition to it being an inexpensive, environmentally-friendly way to remove snow and ice, you’ll also get some exercise! Shovel frequently throughout the day so you’re not faced with a pile of snow that’s compacted and more difficult to remove.
If you’re unable to shovel your property, enlist the help of a (strong!) neighbor. Or keep your eye out for local crews that pop up to offer their snow removal services.
Shovels and Accessories
For Big Snow Removal Jobs. The Snowcaster Wheeled Snow Pusher Shovel is perfect for cleaning up after big snowstorms. It’s heavy-duty, on wheels, and 50% more efficient than traditional snow shovels.
For the Roof. The True Temper Telescoping Snow Roof Rake comes equipped with a 17-foot aluminum handle and 24″ blade to help you reach all parts of your snow-laden roof.
For the Car. The Suncast Automotive Shovel comes with an 11-inch telescoping handle for easy storage in your car. To dust and scrape off all that snow and ice from your vehicle, use a snow brush/ice scraper combo, such as the AstroAI or Snow Joe Snow Broom.
For Your Back! The Snow Joe SJ-SHLV01 Shovelution Shovel has a spring-assisted handle to help lift all that snow. Another back-friendly option is the BackEZ EziMate Handle that can be added onto any shovel handle, easing back strain.
Need a Snow Blower? Go Electric
With all that snow on your driveway and walkways — I get it — it can be impossible to remove by hand. Gas-powered snow blowers seem like a perfect solution, but they’re noisy, use a non-renewable resource – gas – for their fuel, and contribute to air pollution.
In fact, an alarming new study points to fossil fuel air pollution as responsible for nearly one in five deaths worldwide; twice as high as previously estimated. Our dependence on fossil fuels must end across a wide spectrum of sectors, but one simple way for you to do your part is to switch from gas to electric snow blowers.
Snow Blowers and Accessories
Cordless Electric Snow Blower. Snow Joe produces a series of cordless snow blowers, including the latest 100-volt dual-stage blower that can clear a path 24″ wide and 17.5″ deep in a single pass.
Electric Snow Blower with Cord. The Toro 18-Inch 15 Amp Power Curve Snow Blower is a good choice for walkways, patios and decks.
Snow Shovels. For small areas, an electric snow shovel is an economical alternative to a full-blown (no pun intended) snow blower. Good choices include the Snow Joe cordless snow shovel or GreenWorks corded shovel.
Eco-Friendly Ice Removal
Using road salt (aka sodium chloride) to deice roads and pathways is effective but not environmentally or pet-friendly. Salt used on roadways has skyrocketed from 164,000 tons in 1940 to an average of more than 24 million tons per year.
The trouble with all this salt usage is that it doesn’t readily disappear. In fact, it can take decades for road salt to drain from a watershed. Dissolved salt pollutes waterways and groundwater, threatening drinking water for both humans and wildlife. For example, the main contributor of the Flint River’s high chloride concentrations was due to road salt. In addition, road salt’s corrosive properties are harmful to animals as well as cars, roads, and bridges.
While there’s no perfect solution to ice and snow removal, some alternatives to traditional road salt include coffee grinds, cat litter (free of chemicals), or sand.
For commercial options, SafePaw Ice Melter or Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt are good choices. Made without sodium chloride, these products are safer for people, plants and pets, and they’re non-corrosive.
Before you buy any product that touts environmental benefits, check to see whether it’s truly green — not greenwashed. A start is to check for any certifications by accredited certification agencies. Also, take a moment to read the ingredients and see if it contains any toxic chemicals. A good rule of thumb is that any product with a long list of ingredients is more likely to contain something you don’t want in your body, in your home, or on your property!
An Expensive Snow Removal Option: Heated Driveways
To be sure, installing a heated driveway is an expensive alternative but one that, when done correctly, can eliminate the need for toxic chemicals and gas-powered snow blowers. It’ll also save your back by reducing the need for all that shoveling!