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Removing snow from your driveway and pathways is an important safety task during the winter months. Some of the more popular methods for this use salt or chemical products to melt the ice and snow.
These methods, however, have the potential to damage the environment. They could corrode the surface they are spread on, as well as harming local plants, wild animals or your pets. The substances can then remain in the soil or run into the local water supply, causing further damage. Using a snow blower can also have an environmental (and economic) impact, as the fuel used will contribute to your carbon footprint.
If you’re concerned about keeping your impact on the environment as low as possible, finding an eco-friendly snow removal method is a high priority. There are certain green products you may find are able to take the place of harsher substances. You can also find methods that rely on natural products, physical labor and other alternative approaches.
One of the factors that can make snow removal particularly difficult is compaction. When the snow is compacted, it becomes hard and solid. The time and effort needed to remove this type of snow may tempt you to use a more “drastic” removal approach, regardless of its environmental impact.
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Snow compaction occurs when snow is walked on or driven over. When the snow begins to fall, try to avoid walking or driving on the areas you wish to clear. If you must use these areas, such as a path or a driveway, minimize your impact as much as possible. This allows the snow to stay loose, and you will be able to remove it much more easily later on.
Although snow blowers are an easy way to remove snow, a broom and shovel are just as effective. If you are physically capable of performing the task, this is the most efficient and eco-friendly way to remove the snow from your property. It is easier if you perform this task as soon as possible, while the snow is looser and before a second fall adds to the job.
Make sure that the shovel or broom is a suitable size, so you do not suffer from any muscular strain when using it. The item should also be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the snow. If there is ice on the driveway or path, you could use an ice-cracker to break it up for removal.
If you are not able to clear your own paths, consider asking a friend or neighbor to help you. You may also be able to hire someone. If you use a professional service, you can look for one that advertises eco-friendly practices and products.
If you cannot use a shovel or broom, a snow blower may be required. However, you can take steps to ensure you keep your environmental impact low by choosing an electric model. There are many alternative snow blowers on the market with electric and battery power options. You might even purchase a hybrid snow blower. If you do need to purchase a gas-powered model, you can compare different makes to determine which provides the best result with the lowest carbon footprint possible.
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An additional benefit to electric snow blowers is the fact that they are much quieter to use. If you are concerned about disturbing your neighbors as well as the environment, this could be an added bonus.
If there is ice or compacted snow left after you have finished clearing the majority away, you will need to employ alternate measures to finish the job. One of the best ways to deal with the issue of leftover ice is to sprinkle coffee grounds over it. Other commonly recommended substances include wood ash and sand. Coffee, however, has the added benefit of acids that can help melt the snow. Each of these substances is cheap and has little to no impact on the environment, making them an excellent solution.
If you sprinkle one of these substances over an area such as a driveway or a path, the rough texture should help you to gain more traction. This immediately alleviates the risk of slipping. In addition to this, the substance may absorb heat from warming air or sunlight more quickly than the ground might do on its own. This can speed the melting process.
If you want to remove the ice left behind as quickly as possible, you will need a de-icer. In order to avoid the harmful chemicals commonly found in de-icing products, you can use one of these eco-friendly alternatives:
Regardless of the type of de-icer you choose, it is recommended you use as little as possible. Removing the majority of the snow beforehand and applying a small amount of de-icer to finish the most eco-friendly approach, as even green de-icers could have an impact on their surroundings.
It may possible to avoid the issue of clearing snow and ice by installing heating lines in your driveway. This option will not be available to everyone, as it requires structural changes to your property and can be very expensive. It is not as eco-friendly as other methods such as removing the snow with a shovel. However, it could prove a better option than some of the more harmful snow removal solutions.
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