What can I reuse or recycle to help get around in snowy weather?

Like yesterday’s mince pie case post, this one is also a little late in the season – but it’s only recently that I’ve started hearing about this stuff and apparently we’re getting some more snow this week anyway.

Here in West Yorkshire, we had the white stuff on the ground for nearly four weeks before it finally melted away at the weekend. I realise that’s nothing compared to many places around the world but for here, it’s remarkable. I think the longest I’ve ever seen snow stick around before was about four days and because of that, no one is prepared for snow here – we just take the opportunity to stay at home, eat Christmas leftovers and complain about the weather (which, to be fair, we do whatever the weather). Only one person on our street has a snow shovel and the council only gritted/cleared main roads so navigating through our side streets was slippery fun. No one has snow tyres/chains and also at least half the people we encountered don’t know how to drive in snow – they seemingly thought throwing as much power as they could at their spinning wheels would eventually solve the problem.

Because of our unpreparedness, people have been improvising. Rubber footwell mats are quite commonly used to provide emergency traction when wheels get stuck – and I’ve heard of other people keeping old carpet in their car to do the same thing. A friend of a friend heard you can use cat litter as a grit substitute but discovered that their type of cat litter just turned to a white paste and got trudged all through the house – so that’s not advised. Does the wood-based stuff work better though – or as an extension of that, sawdust?

What have you been reusing and recycling to make getting around a little easier during the snowy weather? What works? What doesn’t? What about for other forms of transport such as bikes or even just walking? Anything to help improve grip?

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5 Responses to “What can I reuse or recycle to help get around in snowy weather?”

  1. louisa says:

    I didn’t want to get into this above in the main post but there is something about rock salt/grit that seems very wrong to me. This mineral is mined from the ground and driven all about the country, to be thrown on roads/paths to help for a tiny short while then washed away into waterways.

    The Salt Association in the UK claims that salt is sustainable because once in waterways, it’ll eventually end up back in the sea, from where it can be “recovered when economically viable”.

    But they also note, in a cautious we-are-promoting-salt-after-all way, that there is a toxic risk to soil, vegetation & fresh water fish and it causes metal corrosion & can damage concrete.

    Their overall guideline is use “as much as necessary, as little as possible” and it only has a low environmental impact if used according to various codes of practice, which are pretty hard to find. I’m sure/hope winter weather experts at councils know those codes by heart but I don’t know if Joe Public, who nicely buys a bag of rock salt to de-ice their street for them & their neighbours, would be able to find out how to use it right.

    This article – http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/alternatives-rock-salt – evaluates the alternatives but none of the other grit options is much better for the environment. Elbow grease is, unsurprisingly, the greenest way to do it. I guess a compromise would be more realistic – shovel away what you can, then use a bit of salt to melt the rest/provide traction – which is an improvement (for the environment) on just flinging the salt onto the 4inches of compacted snow as has been happening around here.

  2. Lynsey says:

    Our back cobbles were horrendous in the snow and we couldn’t get the car out at all. We took our backpacks and nana trolley to the supermarket which is a mile away. the exercise did us good but it also meant we only bought food we needed as we had to physically carry it all home again. So the snow was quite good for us in that respect. I did however loose count of how many times someone in our family fell over!

  3. Karmae says:

    This time of year with heavy snowfall and or colder temperatures is the ideal time to slow done and be mindful of all that is around us.

    I grew up in a very cold and snowy place and I believe that this is one of the purposes of winter and and the lessons of slowing down and being mindful are ones that we are slow to learn and forget every year.

    Sotake the time to decorate an outside tree with edible things for the critters out there instead of just tossing bread bits out the door. Make ice lanterns. Just enjoy the time.

  4. Cipollina says:

    I grew up in a cold and snowy place, too, and remember playing outside even when it was 25 degrees below freezing. Dressing well with wool closest to the body, is what worked back then, and I don’t think it wouldn’t work now too – there are the softest, thinnest long underwear to be bought, if not where you live, so on the net, and they can be used as PJs when winters go back to “normal”, so it’s not like it’s a waste of money in any way.

    Letting things take time because of the snow and ice is simply *how it’s done*. It’s like when you get a cat – cats come with future scratched furniture – it’s included, part of the deal. Winter comes with taking it slow and being mindful and attentive.

    On the front step and walkway:
    A *thin* layer of a mix of regular sand and ashes from the fireplace can be strewn – this is something nature can handle. It’s meant to give your soles a grip, not to melt the ice. Later when the ice is melted, you sweep the sand up towards your doorway and depose of it in your garden (in the compost heap or strewn on the lawn). Never use things like cat sand – most of them are NOT meant to be let lose in nature (those that are, are made from recycled paper or wood fibres). Don’t use salt – the quantities that are needed to be of any use are poisonous to everything it touches on its way from your doorstep to the sea. ALWAYS SHOVEL FIRST!

    For driveways:
    You shovel, ONLY shovel, AND THEN YOU PUT YOUR CHAINS ON. A spruce branch or a handful of sand under a spinning wheel gives just the grip needed to move the car to get the chains on. ALWAYS SHOVEL FIRST!

    For slippery boots:
    Chopped-up rubber from an old bicycle tyre or similar can be glued under the soles of the boots with rubber glue. In a similar way you can spread glue on and then dip the sole in sand. In a pinch you can put lots of heavy rubberbands around your foot so they go under the sole. ALWAYS SHOVEL FIRST!

  5. Margi says:

    Every year I go out and sweep up the sand left on the road from the sanders to reuse the next storm. What I sweep up is always enough for the top of the driveway and traction sand to have in the trunk. And remember when you are stuck on ice or snow, put the vehicle in the lowest gear and move out slowly.

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