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 plastic water bottles

Several readers have sent in questions about the dangers of chemical leaching from plastic bottles. A composite version: Dear Umbra, I’ve read some conflicting things about the risks associated with reusing plastic water bottles. For …

Umbra on whole-house fans and their righteousness

Dear Umbra, We just moved to the steamy climate of Washington, D.C., from the other Washington. Faced with our first experience using air-conditioning to cool our home, we’ve got some questions about efficiency. The house …

Umbra on opening windows versus running the AC

Dear Umbra, My friend and I have been having a debate that I hope you can help us settle. What is the rule of thumb when turning off the air and opening the windows? I …

Umbra on swamp coolers and their coolness

Dear Umbra, I recently visited Moab, Utah, and found that many people there use “swamp coolers” rather than conventional air-conditioning systems. Moab is in a near-desert environment and has frequent water-shortage problems. I’m wondering whether …

Umbra on keeping cool without selling out

Dear Umbra, Please advise me on the best way to beat the summer heat! I live in a rather steamy studio apartment and thus far have been languishing under fans in front of the open …

Umbra on when to retire a fridge

Dear Umbra, I love to freeze fresh veggies at their peak of ripeness during the summer. Then, in the winter, I don’t have to buy commercially frozen veggies or long-distance transported ones. In order to …

Advice on natural fabrics vs. polyester

Dear Umbra, I’ve never appreciated human-made fabrics — polyester and its cousins invariably feel less comfortable to me than cotton or wool. Until recently, I thought this personal preference also had the happy side effect …

Advice on buying aquarium fish

Dear Umbra, I’m an elementary school teacher and I’d like to get a pet fish for my classroom, but I’ve heard tales of such fish being caught by eco-egregious means: dynamite blasting, cyanide dumping, etc. …

Advice on antioxidant-rich foods and why they cost so much

Dear Umbra, Antioxidant foods are “the thing” right now, and I would love to be able to eat as many as I need. However, they are usually the most expensive fruits and vegetables. Would it …

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