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Jan 21

Keeping Green in a White Winter Wonderland

If you’ve made a commitment to living a greener lifestyle, you want to reduce your impact on the planet year round. While this is easy enough to do in warmer months, when longer days lead to less electricity use and when locally grown produce is bountiful, staying green in wintertime can be difficult. Incorporate some of these tips into your winter routine to reduce your environmental impact year round.

Green Snow Removal

Just a few changes to your daily routine can help green snow removal. First off, shovel your snow toward your home instead of toward the gutter or the street. This sounds crazy, but actually serves a purpose: Snow increases the insulation of your home. So long as it won’t hurt garden plants or shrubs, pile snow up against the home to diminish the chill of cold winter drafts. Focus on removing as much of the snow as you can, even when it’s heavy. Get down to bare pavement.

Once you’ve cleaned up the snow, apply a green product that gives traction. Stay away from de-icing salts and road salts. These will melt ice as it forms, but leach metals into the water supply and can cause painful paws for pets when salt crystals lodge in tier feet. While there are pet-safe products, using them isn’t a green alternative. Use sand instead. Sand is all natural, will not pollute waterways or garden plants and offers needed traction to stay steady. As snow and ice melt, chop at the ice with an icebreaker. Shoveling is the greenest snow removal method, since it does not expend any fuel. If you’re worried you’ll wear out your back shoveling all of your snow, look into alternative shovels like the Whovel, which relies on body weight to push snow without overloading muscles. Or consider hiring someone to shovel your snow or plow your driveway.

Green Snow Equipment

For larger homes and driveways, you might be used to a snowblower. At first glance, this gas guzzling luxury item seems like a definite green don’t. However, there are green snowblowers on the market and there are ways for you to reduce your snowblower’s environmental impact. Four-stroke engines work more efficiently than two-stroke engines, consuming less fuel as a result. Gas snowblowers are actually more energy efficient than electric models. Since electric models are less robust than their gas counterparts, you end up consuming more power because it takes longer to clear the same terrain. While Honda has been manufacturing hybrid snowblowers since 2001, on the success of the hybrid automobile, at present these are only available in Japan.

While they may never be truly green, snowblowers can be more or less eco-friendly. Look for more innovative models of snowblowers to make their way West, further enhancing your green options.

Green Living

As part of your fall cleanup, ensure your house is winter-ready. Cold air can seep in beneath doorways, through cracks and through the panes of old windows. Take steps to improve insulation by caulking windows, installing thresholds and putting in storm windows and doors. When you cut down on cold air entering the home, you will be able to use less fuel to heat your home to a comfortable temperature.

These are only a few of the things that you can do to green winter practices, but taking these steps alone will help to reduce your environmental footprint. Take things further by greening your heat source, by installing a pellet stove or other green source, or by using a times thermostat. What are your favorite green winter practices?

Danielle, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys music festivals and clean, green living. Read her work at eatbreatheblog.com.

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