Plastic or Metal? The Story of the Snow Shovel

The lowly snow shovel has been around in various forms for hundreds of years. Starting with some of its earliest forms made from wood the snow shovel has progressed through the years and can now be found both in plastic and metal forms. With out this lowly and humble piece of equipment a good part of the world would struggle to maintain a comfortable form of life. Moving snow is essential to both our economy and our standards of living. Without it we would not be able to get out of our houses or for that matter keep our home safe.

Besides keeping the driveway clear or the side walks clean often time we must also shovel off our homes, sheds and cars so they will not suffer damage. Without doing this we would be stuck staying inside or trudging through the snow on our own two feet which is no easy task. In the not so distant past snow removal simply involved citizens going into the streets to level the drifts for sleigh traffic by hand. Today of course we have many other ways to remove snow but the shovel is still the most common of those methods for our personal properties. The question here is which makes the better shovel. Plastic or metal?

The metal shovel came first. At first these were heavy and cumbersome being made of steel. Often this also kept size to a minimum as the larger the blade the heavier it became. Today the metal shovel is often made of aluminum so the weight problem is a thing of the past. You can find them in all different sizes and shapes. Some of the most popular ones are similar in shape to a snow plow that you might find on a truck. With its curved blade it is easier to push the snow up in to piles. You can still get the standard flat style as well which is used better for scooping the snow up and throwing it into piles. One draw back of the metal shovel is that the tend to bend when you don’t have an absolutely flat surface to shovel. Also snow can stick easily to some of them and when you try to get the snow off by hitting it on the ground upside down you usually end up bending it more. All in all though it is light weight and easy to use.

The plastic shovel is newer of course since plastics were not always around. They are light weight which is one of their greatest advantages. You can get them in all shapes and size just like their metal counterparts and with plastic you get more color choices as well. Snow does not tend to stick to these shovels as much as the metal ones and you can hit them on rough edges or hard surfaces and not worry about bending them. There is one concern with the use of plastic shovels though; they can break. Depending on the type and quality of plastic used they can break in colder weather. Another concern some have about using plastic is that when they do break and you give it the toss it can harm the environment since the plastic takes a long time to degrade. Some could argue the same for metal but metal is easier to recycle.

So which one do you prefer or say is the best choice? For me I will stick with plastic. With its light weight, ease of use and no stick qualities I find plastic the better choice. I also prefer the scoop style rather then the traditional flat style. I can still pile the snow up high when needed but the scoop allows me to push the snow around with less lifting since I do not need to empty it. Which ever shovel you choose or prefer I am sure it will get the job done. And unless we all decide to heat our driveways and sidewalks so that snow and ice never sticks; we will always have a place for the lowly but very essential snow shovel.