Adapted from The Organic Suburbanite, by Warren Schultz:

Most of us can stand the cold. Snow, even lots of it, has its charm. But ice that’s not on a skating rink is another story, especially when it’s clinging to steps, sidewalks, and driveways. So we follow tradition and pour on the salt to make the ice go away. Then, come spring, we scratch our heads and wonder why the grass is brown or the perennials are stunted. The reason is … salt. Sure, it melts the snow, but it can also leave a lot of dead and damaged plants in its wake to say nothing of the salt that washes off into sewers and groundwater. In time, salt actually eats away at the concrete of steps and sidewalks.

Here are some little-known, eco-safe, great ice breakers:

Ice Melter: Alfalfa meal. This is a totally natural fertilizer that contains some nitrogen to promote ice melting and has a texture to provide traction while it works. Not the perfect solution due to the nitrogen, but a much better idea than salt.

Traction Helpers: For just plain traction, cover ice with wood ashes, coal cinders, sand, or cat litter.

Slip Stoppers: Invest in some non-slip stair treads for your favorite slippery steps.