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.

Spray It? Don't Say It!

What’s the deal with pesticides and local food?

When an inquisitive shopper wonders if her local farmers are dousing her with misinformation about pesticides, Umbra produces an answer.


What’s the deal with anti-odor exercise apparel?

They stave off the stink, but they contain some shadowy chemicals.

Sock It to Me

What really happens when I put clothing in a donation bin?

When you dump your old duds in a bin, where do they really end up? Umbra knits together an answer for a curious reader.

Shard Truths

When I recycle a beer bottle, does it secretly end up in the landfill?

You toss your glass bottles in the recycling without a second thought -- but where do they end up? Umbra digs in to a national dilemma.

Auto Mad-ic

Self-driving cars: Should we love them or hate them?

Is all the hype about self-driving cars taking attention away from more promising technologies? Umbra cruises through the facts.

Splash Landing

What should I do with my old bathtub?

Umbra advises a landlord whose tenants were tough on their tub -- but the lack of options leaves her fuming.

Boil and Trouble

Is it safe to cook with hot tap water?

A reader is eager to get a jump-start on his pasta by opening the hot-water tap -- but Umbra gives him a few heavy reasons to hold off.

Lumen Essence

Can I mix and match different types of eco-friendly lightbulbs?

When a reader wonders whether he has to switch out all the CFL bulbs in his kitchen at once, Umbra sockets it to him.

Tanks for Nothing

Are automatic toilets wasteful?

Umbra swirls around the topic of bathrooms, drought, and those seemingly unavoidable gratuitous flushes.