Wet and cold weather spells can bring on undesirable and hazardous conditions. Many people do whatever it takes to stay comfortable and safe during the winter months, and while there are many effective actions you can take to cope with the cold weather, not all of them are considered eco-friendly.
It seems as though the cold temperatures of winter have a way of dissuading us from implementing the green practices we try to adopt during the warmer months. The environment often takes a back seat to having a warmer car, and an ice-free driveway appears to be more important to many folks than road salt’s impact on our pets and the eco-system. No one really knows why – perhaps it’s because we are indoors more – but it doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, staying green during the winter is much easier than you think. Here’s how:
Reconsider warming your car. Idling or warming up the car during the winter is not as necessary as many of us seem to think. In fact, driving a car warms it faster than idling does, and it is better on the car, your wallet and the environment. Idling causes the car’s engine to operate inefficiently, which over time can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage. It also unnecessarily emits already harmful pollutants into the air, causing further damage to the environment and our health.
Non-toxic de-icing. Icy surfaces are a given during the winter months. For many years, the use of rock salt has been the preferred method to de-ice driveways, walkways and roads. While effective, salt isn’t the most environmentally conscious de-icing tactic. Some of the problems with salt include harming soil due to excess buildup, preventing plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients, leaching heavy metals that can make their way into the water supply, and burning pets and wild animals if it gets stuck in their paws. Instead of using rock salt, consider one of these eco-friendly ways to de-ice your driveway and walkway:
- Shovel. The faster you shovel your driveway and walkway after a snowfall, the less likely ice will form.
- Salt (if you must). If you’re going to salt, choose your salt carefully. Avoid products with sodium chloride (NaCL), calcium chloride (CaCi) and potassium chloride. Essentially, the fewer chemicals in the product, the better it is for the environment.
- Create traction. Try scattering sand or birdseed. It won’t melt the ice, but it will give you the necessary traction to prevent any slipping or falls. Also consider investing in a good pair of winter boots with a solid toe and bottom tread to help increase your grip on slippery surfaces.
Eco-friendly tires. Winter tires are a must for many Canadians. Believe it or not, many tire manufacturers now offer eco-friendly tires as a means to help the environment. Eco-friendly tires are designed to help lower fuel consumption through lower rolling resistance and are made from eco-friendly raw materials such as non-aromatic oils instead of petroleum. You can also purchase remolded tires, which gives first-generation tires a new lease on life. While eco-friendly tires were once designed specifically for hybrid and electric cars, they are available in varying sizes and can now be used on many other vehicles. To learn more about eco-friendly tires, click here.
Light bulbs. Winter days are shorter, which means we have fewer hours of sunlight. Fewer hours of daylight means we use more indoor lighting. Consider swapping out your conventional light bulbs for bulbs that are more energy efficient.
Conserve energy. In previous blog posts we have discussed how sealing your home during the winter months can help save on heating cost and the environment. We think it makes sense to reiterate the importance of this action because it has a huge impact on the environment. By following the steps outlined here, you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and help conserve much-needed energy.
What are your tips for staying green during the winter months?