9 Tips for Keeping Your Winter Green

The holiday season (and post-holiday period) can be a challenging time to maintain sustainable practices. Here are tips from the Garden’s EarthWays Center for green winter living: 

Do a Home Energy Audit – and Act to Boost Efficiency!

Doing an informal audit and fixing some basic leaks can secure parts of your home or apartment that typically waste energy. Get your DIY guidance from Energy.gov. 

Graphic courtesy NPS.gov

Consider investing in a professional audit and energy services for bigger updates to increase home comfort and value while cutting your utility bills. EarthWays Center can recommend local pro resources.

Be sure to take advantage of utility company incentives! Ameren offers a variety of rebates to residential electric customers. Spire rebates cover natural gas appliances and systems.  

Know someone moving into new digs? A DIY Energy Efficiency Kit or gift card for supplies will convey your warm and green regards. Buy weatherization project supplies at a locally owned hardware store to keep your dollars working closest to home.

Photo by Jean Ponzi

Savor Wearing Your Sweaters!

In our climate, winter is the only time of year you can revel in your woolies and frolic in your fleece. Turn down the thermostat! Layer over that t-shirt! Better yet, bundle up and go outdoors!

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

Ditch the Salt

Reduce water pollution and protect pet paws and nearby plants with alternatives to salt to de-ice your driveway and walkways. 

  • Sand absorbs sunlight to help snow and ice melt when applied during the day, and adds traction, so friends, family and passers-by don’t slip and fall.
  • Kitty litter will also add traction, though it won’t melt snow or ice. Like sand, kitty litter only works when applied on top of snow.
  • Citric acid in vinegar will melt ice and snow, although it may take multiple applications.
  • Products with calcium chloride are a less-harsh alternative to conventional pavement salt. These work best when temperatures are low, zero to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Magnesium chloride is another alternative, though it’s more expensive and only works in very cold conditions, below -5F.
  • No sand or cats on hand? Scatter coffee grounds or fireplace ashes for a quick non-slip surface.

To prevent winter hazards, public transportation agencies are increasingly pre-treating roads with salt-brine mixtures that reduces use of corrosive salt. Sugar beet juice can also be mixed with traditional salt, sand and or chloride brines to ecologically improve de-icing product performance. 

Unwanted, but Still Worthy of Love

Donating items that you can’t use to the Little Shop Around the Corner will honor the value of vintage and unusual furniture, jewelry, and household décor, while supporting the Garden! The Little Shop will resume accepting donations in February. 

Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

The Garden’s neighbor Brightside, maintains Beyond the Blue Bin, a terrific online list of options to donate or recycle a wide range of items too useful to landfill, that should never go into our regular recycling bins.  

Grow Your Green Knowledge

Get empowered by signing up for a class, tour, or workshop. The Garden has adult, youth, and family offerings for green living, gardening, landscaping and more to boost your sustainability knowledge. 

Give a Gift of Shared Fun, Your Special Skills, or Time

Expert research shows, again and again, how shared experience gives happiness much more than getting “stuff.” Ideas to Simplify the Holidays from the Center for Biological Diversity will help you share joy. What gift grows more beautiful with every use? A membership to Missouri Botanical Garden, or the public Garden where your loved one lives.

Stick a Fork in Food Waste

Double check your grocery list before you buy. Shop your pantry and fridge to get creative with recipes. Greet the new growing season with a plan to freeze or preserve extra produce from your garden. Dig into options to compost food scraps and more with the Garden’s partners at EarthDay-365.

Keep Eating Local

Subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to support a local farm into their productive season, and stay connected to local food sources, including winter events held by several area Farmer’s Markets.

Recycle Holiday Lights and Trees

Ask St. Louis County’s Recycle Wizard where to take your festive flotsam when the holiday fun is done. How to stay on Santa’s Nice List? Recycle Responsibly!

Ask the Garden Anytime! 

Our EarthWays Center will answer your sustainable living questions, on any topic, year-round. Email greenresources@mobot.org or call us at 314-577-0246. The Garden’s Green Resources Info Service is at your service. We offer lively green-topic public talks too!

Jean Ponzi
Green Resources Manager

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