16 Nov

Green ways to clean up snow

Although residents of chilly climates come to expect the flakes and gathering snow mounds, some people never quite get used to the cleanup involved in keeping neighborhoods safe and accessible.

In March 2014, North America was covered by the third-highest amount of snow that late in the season since record keeping began in 1966, according to NOAA's U.S. National Ice Center. Snow can begin in September and October in some northern areas and stretch on until early spring. It pays to learn the best ways to deal with snow and to incorporate some environmentally friendly strategies as well.

The most eco-friendly way to remove snow is to wait until the spring thaw when it'll melt. Unfortunately that is not practical for most people. Therefore homeowners and business owners need to look to other methods to clear driveways, parking lots and sidewalks of the white stuff.

· Human-powered effort. The greenest method to clearing snow is to get out the shovel or a broom and put in some hard work. Though seldom an easy task, manual power doesn't rely on fossil fuels nor does it create emissions or loud noises that other methods of snow removal will. Plus, snow-shoveling also is the most cost-effective method of snow removal. Invest in a quality shovel and get used to angling the blade so that you're doing more pushing than scooping and lifting. You also can use Mother Nature to your advantage. Try to clear snow early in the day, and then let the sun and any warming of the afternoon take care of melting some of the leftover thin coatings of snow.

· Use an eco-friendly ice melt. The best way to break-up ice is to chop it up and clear it away. But when that isn't plausible, use eco-friendly ice melting products instead of traditional salt or other melts. Run-off from certain products can increase salinity in bodies of water. Salt can prevent plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients, killing grass and gardens. Plus, ice-melt products may leach heavy metals into the environment.

· Electric power is better. If you need to rely on a snow blower, opt for an electric-powered model. It will be quieter than others and also the cleanest. If you can combine an electric blower with solar panels, you'll be reducing your energy usage even further, all the while keeping a clean and safe landscape.

· Contract with an environmentally friendly service. Commercial snow-removal services and landscapers can make fast work of snow removal. These companies rely on equipment that reduces emissions, use eco-friendly ice melt and outfit their plows with blades that will minimize damage to roadways and driveways. Research the options in eco-friendly snow removal companies. 

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