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.


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.


Which hardware store is the greenest?

A reader wonders where to get sustainable home-improvement supplies. Umbra is the helpful hardware ham.