Umbra Fisk

Ask Umbra®

Advice for Living Green

Yours is to wonder why, hers is to answer (or try). Send your green-living questions to Umbra.

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


Two-day shipping: Free to you, but how costly to the planet?

The journey your package takes doesn't have to be a guilt(y) trip. But the faster you want it, the more likely you'll be doing some damage, green-ly speaking.


To sort or not to sort? That is the recycling question

A reader wants to know whether "single stream" recycling is more efficient than the usual sort-paper-and-plastic approach. Umbra digs up the answer.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Are all these soaps, detergents, and shampoos just taking us to the cleaners?

Why are there so many different varieties of cleaning products, and do we need them? Umbra has the sudsy answer.

Pave it forward

Is there any earth-friendly way to pave a footpath?

A reader's city is replacing its network of pedestrian walks. Concrete? Asphalt? Rubber? Umbra covers the ground.


How can I binge-watch and save energy at the same time?

A reader wants to know how to do her binge-watching in the most sustainable way. Umbra goes True Detective on this one.


Is it OK to buy plastic water bottles for emergencies?

A reader wants to know: Are big plastic jugs of bottled water really the best way to go? Umbra finds out.

Throwaway lines

What’s the best way to dump my old cosmetics and contact lenses?

If you're disposed to be disposing, but not sure what to do with some of the disposables, Umbra's got some answers.


Help! My old apartment building is so damn hot

A reader wants tips for how to stay cool inside an old building without blasting an air conditioner. Umbra has ways to chill.


Is there a beanbag chair I can rest easy on?

Are there better choices than little white plastic pellets to fill that blobby comfy chair? Of course! Umbra investigates.