4 Eco-friendly Snow Removal Tips

Tom Moor
Written by Tom Moor
Updated January 12, 2016
Shoveling snow
Using a shovel instead of ice melt products to remove snow and ice is better for the environment. (Photo by Steve Mitchell)

Want to help the environment? Grab a shovel.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

For millions of Americans in cold weather climates, waking up to the sight of fresh snow on the ground is a part of life in the winter.

If the snow is deep enough, you'll need to remove it. But how you clear the snow from your driveway, sidewalk and porch is entirely up to you.

If you're looking for an eco-friendly way to remove the snow, you're in luck. Here are four environmentally friendly tips for removing snow.

1. Grab the shovel

There’s not a more eco-friendly way to do things than with human power. Shovels are inexpensive and a good way to remove snow without any harmful effects on the environment. Brooms can also come in handy when removing snow.

If you decide to shovel, make sure you’re healthy enough to handle the exertion it takes to lift and move the snow. Taking breaks while shoveling, staying hydrated and using your legs to lift the snow are all good tips to staying safe.

MORE: How to Treat Injuries from Shoveling Snow

Because shoveling can cause overexertion and possibly lead to heart attacks, health experts recommend shoveling the snow in increments and not waiting until after a storm to shovel all of the snow at once.

2. Use battery or electric powered snowblowers

Snowblowers are a good option for people who have larger driveways and live in areas with frequent snowfall.

But gasoline-powered snowblowers produce emissions that can be harmful to the air we breathe. One way to keep your snowblower but limit the emissions is by using an electric- or battery-powered snowblower.

MORE: Tips on Snowblower Repair and Maintenance

3. Be wary of deicing products

Deicing products, such as rock salt, will melt the ice away, but the chlorides in the rock salt can damage your landscaping, flowers, pets and waterways, not to mention your driveway and sidewalks. When pets walk on the salt, their paws can dry out and crack.

Two common deicers that use salt include sodium chloride and calcium chloride. Sodium chloride is the least expensive product and works at temperatures typically 25 degrees or higher, while calcium chloride works at below-zero temperate, but can be three times more expensive.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management recommends that consumers use deicers sparingly to prevent excess chemicals from running into storm drains.

4. Alternatives to rock salt

Fortunately, there are several eco-friendly products available.

Calcium magnesium acetate doesn’t contain salt and is biodegradable, but can cost up 10 times more than typical rock salt.

There are also many home remedies that will either melt snow and ice, or provide traction to prevent anyone from slipping and falling.

Some of those alternatives include kitty litter, which won’t melt the snow but will add some pretty good traction. Cat litter can be harmful to vegetation but it’s better than using rock salt.

People who become stranded while driving in the snow can also put cat litter around their wheels to help get out of a sticky situation. Sand and coffee grinds will also provide traction.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.