Umbra Fisk

Ask Umbra®

Advice for Living Green

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Umbra Fisk is Grist Research Associate II, Hardcover and Periodicals Unit, floors 2B-4B.


Umbra on fridge-freezer efficiency

Dear Umbra, Are there any environmental advantages to the refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom and the fridge on the top? Annette Indianapolis, Ind. Dearest Annette, There are three fridge/freezer configurations: side by side, bottom freezer, and top freezer. …


Umbra on countertops

With the home remodeling boom, we keep wondering: what is the best countertop choice? We’ve gone through a couple homes since getting married, and are now considering building our own. Laminate, Formica, butcher block, concrete, granite, plastic, composite, tile … …


Umbra on CDs and MP3s

Dear Umbra, As I was carrying a stack of CDs from the car into my home, my sister laughed and showed me the size of her MP3 player, which contains well over 100 times the music at a fraction of …


Umbra on recycling tapes and videos

Dear Umbra, What to do? I’m a child of the late ’70s, and one of the last to remember what it was like to exchange a mix tape at age 15. Now I’m hitting my 30s, and realize I still …


Umbra on recycling foil

Dear Umbra, Summertime grilling is in full swing at our house, but I am wondering what the ecological cost is of all that aluminum foil we’re using in place of our regular pots and pans. Sure makes for great clean …

Umbra on CFL recycling

Dear Umbra, So what happens to compact fluorescent light bulbs in the hands of the “hazardous-waste people”? Is the mercury reclaimed and reused, or merely hidden “away” (wherever that is)? John GearLansing, Mich. Dearest John, Great question, because why should …


Umbra on old clothes

Dear Umbra, I promise that I searched the archives before emailing you, so hopefully you haven’t already answered this question. I’m wondering about the best way to dispose of old clothes and shoes — the tired, well-loved, and much-worn items …


Umbra on moving

Dear Umbra, Is there such a thing as “green movers”? I want to transport furniture from L.A. to Seattle and wonder if any movers use biodiesel vehicles or something like that. Andy Luk Seattle, Wash. Dearest Andy, You know, we’re …


Umbra on shower curtains

Dear Umbra, You have successfully instilled the fear of all things vinyl in me. Now the big question is: with what do I replace my old vinyl shower curtain? We have a cotton one at work, but it clings to …