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.


How should I get rid of old Barbies and Legos?

What to do with old Barbies, Lego bricks, and other plastic toys? Umbra sorts through the disposal dilemmas represented by the toybox.


Floss is good for your teeth — but is it bad for the environment?

A reader asks for alternatives to plasticky, over-packaged dental floss. Umbra sinks her teeth into some answers.

Compact dis

Are solar compactors actually good for the earth?

They're popping up in greener cities everywhere -- those solar-powered public trash cans. But do they actually make a difference? Umbra has the answer.

Greens and brews

Should I be drinking local or sustainable beer?

Which to buy -- beer that's made close by or suds brewed with green energy but then shipped cross-country? Umbra cuts through the foam.

Fruit and the city

Can I eat urban-grown produce without getting poisoned?

A reader wants to know whether fruit grown in public parks and city land ends up contaminated with all the crud in urban soil. Umbra's got the answer.


Is grass-fed beef better in a drought?

How do you sort out the environmental impact of grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef in a drought? Umbra's got your back (and your flank).


Should I replace my brown lawn with artificial turf?

A California homeowner wonders about fake grass. Umbra rolls out a better answer.


What’s the most eco-friendly way to grill?

Can you BBQ with a clean, green conscience? Absolutely -- you just need to fire up the right kind of grill.


Can I have a composting toilet?

A reader wants to install a composting toilet in her London flat. Umbra is flush with answers.