Tips: Weathering the Winter Without Waste

Consider using non-toxic de-icing substances (more information at http://www.epa.gov/naturalevents/snow-ice.html) to prevent hazardous waste from chemicals. This is among the tips offered by EPA to reduce waste during the winter. Additional tips include:

  • Winterize your vehicle by checking your air filter and fluid levels, checking tires for tread wear and proper inflation, and checking the condition of your windshield wipers. Ensuring your vehicle is ready for weather changes will reduce damage, which prevents waste from broken parts, and will keep you safe on the road.
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes in a tin instead of throwing them away. Cold wood ashes can be mixed in your compost heap to create a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to your garden.
  • Use electric snow removal products rather than gasoline-powered ones. While electric products consume energy, they do not emit greenhouse gases. As alternatives, use snow shovels, ice crackers and brooms to clear snow from your sidewalk, porch or driveway.
  • Before leaving for vacation, turn down your thermostat (or use a programmable one) so that you don't waste natural resources by generating unneeded heat. You can also buy outdoor and indoor lights with timers so that lights don't stay on all night.
  • Close the recycling loop. Many articles of clothing, such as jackets, scarves, gloves and boots, are now made from recycled materials. Most fleece products are made from recycled plastic soda bottles, and certain clothing and shoe manufacturers use recycled cotton scraps and rubber tires to make their products.
  • Winter storms often cause power outages. Prevent waste by keeping rechargeable batteries rather than disposable ones stored throughout your house with your flashlights. If you do use disposable batteries, prevent hazardous waste by buying batteries with low mercury content.

Additional information on what you can do to help reduce and better manage waste can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/citizens.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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