An Eco-Friendly Driveway

     An eco-friendly driveway?  What does a driveway have to do with the environment anyway?

     Well, the answer is ‘more than you might think.’  Here’s a surprising fact:  One inch of rainfall on the typical home’s asphalt driveway results in about 900 gallons of runoff water that enters local storm drains and finds its way into streams, rivers, and ultimately the ocean.

     And what’s wrong with water running off the driveway and into the sea?  “Waters that run off hard surfaces like pavement do not have the opportunity to soak back into the earth,” writes David Helvarg, founder of the ocean advocacy organization Blue Frontier.  “Instead of being absorbed and filtered through the soil, the rainwater pools and floods, picking up debris, oily wastes, and other contaminants and depositing them in local waterways,” Helvarg explains.

     But a driveway made of gravel, crushed seashells, or wood chips is permeable.  Rain water soaks into the ground, and runoff is greatly reduced.  But if you still want a hard surface driveway, says Helvarg, you can still minimize runoff by installing widely spaced concrete slabs or bricks and filling the gaps with sand or grass.  Or you can choose paving blocks called “permeable pavers.”  They look like ordinary bricks but have channels that funnel water between the blocks, allowing it to percolate into the ground.–April Moore

5 Responses to “An Eco-Friendly Driveway”

  1. Diane Says:

    Great idea—I never would have thought about it. The natural materials can be more attractive, too, than asphalt.

  2. Joan Brundage Says:

    Great ideas! Another idea— We would like to do our driveway, which is now gravel and dirt, in decompressed stabilized granite which is like gravel but would allow the water to soak into the ground. Also, black top really heats up in summer temperatures, buckles in a few years, is very expensive to install!

  3. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    Such a great idea. Hope it catches on.

  4. Monika Kienzle Says:

    Yesterday our son told us on the phone that he is getting an estimate to get his driveway paved. How timely to read your suggestion for a better alternative to avoid run-off. I fsent him a link to your website immediately! Thank you, April-

  5. April Says:

    Ineresting, Joan. I hadn’t thought about the fact that black asphalt absorbs a lot of heat. All the more reason to adopt a greener driveway alternative.

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