Taylor Wilson, Conservation Technician and Outreach Assistant
Easy eco-friendly ideas you can use to make this winter more fun
Snow and freezing temperatures are something we all have to deal with—so why not deal with them in a way that conserves our natural resources? Snow can be a major hindrance to our routines. It can easily add up to an hour to your commute when it comes down to cleaning your driveway, cleaning your car, and then navigating icy roads. Salt and chemical de-icers can be a life saver in a pinch, but they have been building up in our soil and water resources for years. There are better, less expensive, and more efficient ways to deal with snow than the current norm.
Through years of using salt de-icers we’ve added chloride to the soil and water resources across the United States.
How it happens:
Salt de-icers work by mixing with the water in the snow and lowering the freezing temperature of the water. That water then, like all storm water, runs off the road into roadside ditches, storm water drains, creeks, rivers, etc. When snow melts, all the salt we put on roads all over the county goes with it straight into our water sources. This means that all those ecosystems are affected. The salt ends up accumulating as the water filters down through soil in our yards and then finally accumulating in the groundwater below.
Why it matters:
Salt is a problem in both soil and water. In soil, excess salts in the rooting zone, or where plant roots grow, stop plants from being able to uptake water. This slows or stops plant growth, resulting in plant death. This can affect your grass, gardens, trees, or anything you have growing. Additionally, built up salts are corrosive to infrastructure and cars, bad for pets, and much more.
How to Deal with Snow Without Salt:
There are several products out there that can melt snow without salt. Simply search “salt free de-icer” and pick one that fits your needs and budget. Additionally, things like beet juice, alfalfa meal, and coffee grounds can help melt snow and ice.
Other Ecofriendly Ideas this Winter:
The hardest part about environmentalism is that the most ecofriendly way of doing something often requires creative solutions and/or more labor. Sometimes at the end of a long day the last thing anyone wants to do is brainstorm how to lessen their footprint on the world. We’re all guilty of choosing the easy option over the green option because, well, it’s easier. For this reason, we’ve gathered a list of easy ecofriendly things that you can do to deal with the snow and ice this year that are ecofriendly and can REDUCE the amount of labor and time you must spend in the cold.
So, now what?
At the end of the day almost all ecofriendly solutions have their downfalls. If we all used salt free de-icer eventually we would probably have a buildup of salt free de-icer in our soil and water. Alternatives like alfalfa meal is a fertilizer and will run off into our streams. Coffee grounds are acidic and can be damaging to some plants—but neither are as bad as road salt. It all comes down to moderation. Using a little bit of salt, or a little bit of an alternative will always be better than using as much as we’re using now. There are very few perfect options. Reducing our use of ecologically damaging goods is a great start to a greener tomorrow.