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 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 …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on replacing light bulbs

Dear Umbra, I am reluctant to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs because that means tossing out not only used-but-still-working incandescent bulbs, but also the brand-new bulbs I have waiting in the closet. Is it really a positive effect overall …