Ask Umbra®

The New York Times calls Umbra Fisk "a trailblazer in the field of eco-advice columnists" and "the arch online sage of the new green age." Her latest passion: kale smoothies ... no, sorry, civic engagement, because getting political is the only way we'll get a planet that doesn't burn and a future that doesn't suck. Ask Umbra a question here.

Open-and-shut case

Is it terrible to crack open a window during winter nights?

A reader likes to get a little fresh air. Her husband says it's a waste of energy. Advice columnist Umbra Fisk settles this heated dispute.

Wipe out

Are those magic sponges terrible for the environment?

A reader wonders about the impact of melamine sponges like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Advice columnist Umbra Fisk investigates.

Think outside the box

Is boxed water actually eco-friendly?

Water packaged in cartons instead of bottles is being marketed as "better" for the environment. Is it? Advice maven Umbra Fisk investigates.

Just say no to faux fir

What’s the greenest kind of Christmas tree?

Is it eco-friendly to cut down a tree from the woods? How about buying a fake tree? Advice columnist Umbra Fisk unwraps the answers.

Getting warmer

What’s a greener way to heat my home?

A reader wonders which is better -- a heat pump or a high-efficiency gas furnace. Advice columnist Umbra Fisk warms to the topic.

Coral fixation

Is it bad to buy coral products?

Advice columnist Umbra Fisk dives deep to find answers.

I'm cuckoo for coconuts

Are coconut products bad for the environment?

Advice columnist Umbra Fisk takes a hard look at coconut oil, water, milk, and sugar.

winging it

What type of plane is least bad for the planet?

No plane is good for the climate, but some are better than others. Advice columnist Umbra Fisk reveals why.

sunny day real estate

What’s better: New solar panels or old hydropower?

A reader wonders about the benefits of solar panels since her local grid is already pretty green. Umbra plugs in.