If you’re putting down salt or sand on ice or snowy sidewalks and driveways, there are some negative consequences to consider, according to environmental experts, and some natural alternatives.
First, the salt and sand can damage nearby plants by affecting the nutrient balance in the soil. Road and highway salt can kill a lot of roadside plants and grasses too. In New Rochelle alone, there are more than 176 miles of roads that may need to be cleared using salt spreaders and plows. Mamaroneck maintains about 44 miles of roads; Scarsdale about 90 miles; and White Plains about 150 miles. That can add up to a lot of salt and sand. Both are frequently used because both are relatively inexpensive.
A second big problem is that salt, in particular, can burn pets’ feet. It can cause their paws to crack and become infected, or even bleed.
In addition, the salt, which is basically sodium chloride and very toxic when broken down, may find its way into streams and lakes, affecting aquatic and other wildlife.
But experts say you can choose to limit damage to the environment in several ways.
Try salt alternatives around your residence, like organic, salt-free de-icer products. They may have some drawbacks if used on a large scale, but for smaller-scale residential use, they are less toxic than rock salt. A good resource for choosing a safer de-icer for your property is the product guide here.
Also, you can remove snow and ice manually, or enlist the help of some neighbors. And if you are considering a snow-blower, you may want one that’s electric and rechargeable –they’re more eco-friendly than gasoline-powered models. In general, according to Consumer Reports, electric models are best used for short driveways, walks, and decks.