Umbra Fisk

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Umbra Fisk is Grist Research Associate II, Hardcover and Periodicals Unit, floors 2B-4B.


Umbra on composting with worms

Dear Umbra, I recently moved into a studio apartment in an urban area. I used to compost in my backyard but don’t have that option anymore. I looked into getting a worm bin to use inside my apartment, but the …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on unused fireplaces

Dear Umbra, We have a gas fireplace and a new baby girl, so we have decided to not use the fireplace this winter. What is the best way to keep the cold air from coming in through the fireplace? JeffRochester, …


Umbra on soap

Dear Umbra, Every time I’m lathering with Dr. Bronner’s hemp castile soap, I wonder, what is castile soap? And how is it different from my bar of olive oil-based soap from the farmers market, or my partner’s Dove? Finally, does …


Umbra on straw-bale homes

Dear Umbra, Do you recommend building straw bale homes? And/or can you insulate an existing home with straw bales on the outside of the home and then finish it using siding, wood, or stucco? I wonder why this renewable, economical, …

Umbra on deflecting eco-insults

Dear Umbra, Whenever I pick up a piece of trash a friend has thrown on the ground, or ask them where their recycling bins are, they call me a dirty tree-hugging hippie. This doesn’t bother me, since I know I …


Umbra on eco-themed Halloween costumes

Dear Umbra, Every year my friends and I throw a big Halloween party, and I had the amazing idea of dressing up as Sarah Palin. Unfortunately, I just found out that’s currently the most popular costume in my city (and …


Umbra on green cookware

Dear Umbra, I’m thinking it’s time to start switching out my family’s cookware. When hubby and I got legally partnered, we received some Calphalon (am I allowed to name names?) and pseudo-Calphalon non-stick cookware, and we’ve used it for a …


Umbra on aerosols

Dear Umbra, Love the column. Keep up the great stuff! A question: My co-workers and I are suspicious of buying spray cans, even though we know they no longer contain CFCs. We suspect that aerosol cans contain HCFCs — hydrochlorofluorocarbons …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on driveways

Dear Umbra, What is the most eco-friendly driveway material? Jean K.Newington, Conn. Dearest Jean, Other than “no driveway because no car,” dunno. I can tell you all the characteristics possessed by a good eco-friendly driveway material, but no single material …