The first snow of the season has finally come and a lot of ice is right behind it. First reaction is to lay down salt but if you have pet or plants, salt can end up doing more harm than good. I heard of using cat litter as an alternative to salt but litter can be slippery even after the snow has gone and doesn't dissolve well. So if you find yourself stuck in your driveway or at a loss for traction under your wheels, here are some eco-friendly alternatives to using salt or cat litter according to esurance.com...

3 eco ways to de-ice your driveway

1. Sugar

Sugar doesn’t work as quickly as salt, but it still does a sweet job of lowering water’s freezing point. In fact, municipalities around the country are using beet juice — which is basically sugar — as an alternative to salt. It’s a little pricier, but it’s safer for pets and plants and actually works better than salt when the temperature drops below -4°F.

2. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)

Commonly found at most hardware stores, CMA is a biodegradable, chloride-free (less corrosive), and less toxic salt substitute. It’ll be sold under various brand names, often with “environmentally friendly” listed on the label. If you’re unsure, just look for it as a main ingredient when choosing your de-icing product.

A 50-pound bag of CMA can cost around $20, making it a more expensive option than ordinary rock salt — but it’s still cheaper than replacing all your plants or paying for a vet.

3. Sand (or coffee grounds if you don’t have pets)

This may be stating the obvious, but anything with grit can help your tires get a grip. That means sand or even used coffee grounds can work in a jiffy when you need to get traction.

Just one word of caution: caffeine is toxic to pets, so avoid using coffee if you have a furry pal running around.

If YOU have any tips on how to make this winter a little more bearable, leave them in the comment box and I'll pass them on.