Green De-icing Techniques

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

If you live along the Eastern states, you probably have been digging out from the snow this week. I must confess that it was nice to play in the powder-like snow again. We hadn’t had a similar snowstorm in our area for years. I actually spent several hours sledding down the hill in our back yard with my youngest daughter. However, all outdoor winter pastimes are not created equal. One of the lesser enjoyable winter activities is dealing with the icy sidewalks and roadways. If you’re not careful, you can do more harm than good to the environment as well.

Although we should avoid a slippery sidewalk and entrance to our home, we shouldn’t be too hasty in rushing to the local convenience store to buy bags of salt and chemicals for de-icing. There are greener techniques to clearing these walkways.  For example, consider using clean clay kitty litter, sand, or fireplace/stove ash to de-ice your sidewalk. Chemical de-icers can be harmful to your pets, your plants, and the environment as a whole. Furthermore, these toxic chemicals that melt from your driveway and roads can pollute waterways. These de-icing road salts can adversely affect ground water used for public water supplies if not applied and stored correctly.

So, next time a winter storm is approaching, take a moment to review some winter preparedness safety tips to better protect your family and the environment.