Snow Season– the time of year most snow removal companies officially begin service coverage– starts November 1st. Ready or not that’s next week…
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Lightening Your Footprint During Snow Season
Snow removal is a dirty business. Companies generally run it as an emergency response service with the focus on clearing snow after it has accumulated.
This reactive approach to snow removal leads to dumping lots of rock salt and other environmentally damaging materials on top of snow and ice build-up to get rid of it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we apply more than 20 million tons of sodium chloride on our roadways every winter. That’s hugely toxic to the environment.
In Chicago, winter snow and ice are inevitable, but we can approach snow removal safely and in a much more environmentally friendly way by taking a proactive approach.
Here are four ways to turn a white winter ‘greener’. Prevention plays a key role in redefining snow season and the snow removal process:
1. Pre-treat surfaces when ice and snow are in the forecast.
Keep an eye on the weather. Apply ice melt before a storm hits, so that the snow can’t adhere to the ground. Don’t wait until after the snow has fallen. Pretreating cuts down on the amount of ice melt needed – and wasted. Think snow prevention instead of snow removal.
2. Use environmentally friendly ice melt instead of rock salt.
Cities use rock salt because it’s cheap. But rock salt’s public safety benefits come with ecological drawbacks. Salt is bad for your pets, will kill your grass and plants, is corrosive to cars, and will pollute nearby streams and rivers. A recent scientific study found that 70 percent of the salt applied to roads stays within the region’s watershed. Once it gets there, the contamination is difficult and expensive to remove.
3. Don’t let the snow build up.
Shovel before the snow reaches more than 3″. It’s easier to shovel 3″ of snow three times a day than it is to shovel 9″ of snow all at once. Let Mother Nature help with the grunt work by doing snow removal early in the day. The radiant heat of the sun warms the surface to keep it safe and dry.
4. Replace asphalt driveways and concrete walkways with permeable surfaces.
Permeable pavements allow water to drain through surfaces where it would normally pool. Because there’s no standing water on permeable surfaces, ice doesn’t form in freezing weather. This virtually eliminating the need to apply for deicer. And because permeable pavement is porous it does not become an impermeable ice block. This means it’s not subject to damage caused by the freeze/thaw cycle. Freeze/thaw damage creates costly repairs every year in asphalt and concrete surfaces.
For more information on Greenwise’s approach to eco-friendly snow clearing, please read this article in Lawn & Landscape magazine: A Green and White Mixture.