Posts Tagged ‘fireplace ash’

Men, Ask Me Your Green LIfestyle Questions!

In an effort to reach a broader audience, I’m starting a series of posts pertinent to different groups – men, children, teens, new parents and grandparents.  Most posts apply to everyone obviously, but it’s usually women who take the lead in making greener and healthier changes in the home and for the family.  As Bella Abzug says, Women will not simply be mainstreamed into the polluted stream. Women are changing the stream, making it clean and green and safe for all…”  Or to quote Margaret ThatcherIf you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.

The reality is it takes everyone’s commitment towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle to make positive changes for the environment.

So, I’ll begin with men.  Below are questions asked from a male reader.

Question:It’s slippery outside on my front walk.  What can I safely use besides salt to melt the ice?  Any other choice besides ice melting pellets?” Mark C., Charleston, MA

Answer:  Thanks for asking such an important question, especially with the polar vortex gripping most of the country!  Slippery walks are dangerous.

Rock salt is the most common and the cheapest ice melt, but it is damaging to vegetation, polluting and corrosive. Calcium chloride, urea and blends also contain a lot of salt and pollute the soil. Generally products labeled “Pet-Safe” are safer for the environment, but make sure to read the label for salt additives. Avoid sodium chloride, the worst of all salts.

From my research, there are really no toxin-free ice melts.  The least toxic products are the natural ones like sand, sawdust, wood shavings, kitty litter, or even fireplace ash that provide traction for walking on ice.  They don’t actually melt the ice however.  Their downside? They are messy – you definitely have to remove your shoes when you come indoors, which is a good idea anyway.

Question:  “The leather on my tv chair is getting hard and cracked.  What should I do about it?” Mark C., Charleston, MA

Answer:  Good question.  I know how important special chairs are.  My husband loves his chair too!  It’s best to keep leather chairs out of direct sun, which will bleach it and cause deterioration.  Heat makes it dry and crack too.  To maintain your leather chair, wipe it down regularly with a clean, dry cloth (avoid cleaning products not designed for leather specifically) and vacuum dust and debris from the crevices as you would an upholstered chair. Apply leather conditioner regularly to keep it soft and supple, but make sure you use a conditioner that won’t darken light leathers.  For those cracks you mention, you can buff small scratches gently with a microfiber cloth until their appearance fades.  And I’m sure you know, never let water stand on leather.  Good luck.

Information compiled from:

Home Comforts, The Art and Science of Keeping House, by Cheryl Mendelson,


For more green living tips, visit