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.


Umbra on lead and gardens

Dear Umbra, In your reply to the question about pollution and rooftop gardening, you talked a fair amount about lead pollution. Since gasoline is no longer leaded, and since it’s container gardening that wouldn’t have …


Umbra on cargo bikes

Hi Umbra, After reading your article on the amazing Thermos, coffee, and bicycle commuting, I thought I should alert you (if you’re not already alerted) to the Xtracycle (or S.U.B.) as a means for everyday, …


Umbra on hauling goods by bike

Hi Umbra, Love your column. I’m a daily bicycle commuter and coffee achiever. Here’s a cool mug and handlebar mount [for the reader who asked about transporting coffee]. Cheers, John Denver, Colo. Dearest John, Thank …


Umbra on planning a lawn

Umbra, I’m not a big fan of lawns, but I do want some nice grass cover on at least part of my yard, especially the steep slope on the side of the house. I was …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on energy-hog roommates

Dear Umbra, My roommate takes 45-minute showers, does 10 loads of laundry a day, and spends her days watching show after show on TV. What is a nice or subtle way to get her to …


Umbra on rooftop gardening

Dear Umbra, Growing your own vegetables is supposed to be healthy and good for the environment, but I live on a heavily trafficked avenue in Manhattan and my plants stay on my roof. Should I …


Umbra on Earth Day office parties

Dear Umbra, Earth Day seems like a good opportunity to raise environmental awareness in the office. Do you have any ideas for an Earth Day office party? The best I can come up with is …


Umbra on video games saving the world

Dear Umbra, Does the increasing use of video games as a form of recreation bode well for the environment? Fewer people using real resources means less of an impact on the world. Tadeusz Rockville, Md. …


Umbra on library furniture

Dear Umbra, I work in an academic library that has just received funding to purchase new furniture for the first time in over 20 years. As such, the committee examining this is very interested in …