Step 2: Let's Talk About Salt, Baby!
There is no such thing as an "environmentally friendly" salt or deicer. Any salt or deicer contains chloride. The best thing you can do is to reduce how much you use. When you do use it, use in moderation and follow product instructions.
When to Use Salt. If you must apply salt or deicer, apply after the storm is over. Clear off loose or compacted snow first. Apply the product on ice only. Do not apply it on dry pavement. Temperatures commonly drop after a storm. Double-check the label on the product to ensure it will work before you apply it! Some do not work below specific temperatures. Furthermore, if it's a warm day and the sidewalk is wet, don't use deicers. The sun will do the job for you, and any deicer you apply will go straight down the storm drain.
How Much Salt to Use. Using more salt doesn't melt ice any faster. Use just enough to do the job. You can shoot for a 3-inch spread between salt granules. A hand spreader is about $10-$20 and can make application easier and more precise. Try to apply no more than one pound of salt per 250 square feet of pavement. Pro tip: one pound of salt can typically fit in a regular-sized coffee mug.
Sand is Another Option. Use sand when it's too cold for salt to work. Sprinkle just enough to get traction on walkways. Sweep up any excess after the ice melts and dispose of in the trash or reuse it. Keep sand out of the storm drains - sand is a pollutant too. Don't mix sand and salt together. They have two different purposes, and sand will not help in wet, melting snow and slush.