Ask Umbra®

The New York Times calls Umbra Fisk "a trailblazer in the field of eco-advice columnists" and "the arch online sage of the new green age." Her latest passion: kale smoothies ... no, sorry, civic engagement, because getting political is the only way we'll get a planet that doesn't burn and a future that doesn't suck. Ask Umbra a question here.

  • Ask Umbra on public peeing

    Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, What, in your opinion, is proper flushing etiquette when using public lavatories? Or, indeed, those belonging to your friends? At home we follow the if-it’s-yellow rule, but only occasionally am I bold …

  • Ask Umbra on mowing with goats

    Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Google is replacing lawn mowers with goats. I’ve seen commenters make some interesting points (What is the impact of raising the goats? Transporting the goats? Watching goat poo run off into the …

  • Ask Umbra on urban foraging

    Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, In honor of spring finally coming to my frigid corner of the Midwest, I was thinking about trying my hand at making some dandelion wine. But I live in a major metropolitan …

  • Ask Umbra on escalators

    Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Nice column on elevators. Since most elevators are counterbalanced, there is much less energy use involved than most people would expect. It’s nice to see the addition of hybrid technology to recapture …

  • Ask Umbra on comparing green products

    Q. Dear Umbra, I am a consumer who has recently convinced a friend of mine to green his business. I am now in charge of doing all of the research. My question is, how do I go about assessing the …

  • Ask Umbra on hydro power at home

    Q. Dear Umbra, Please tell me you didn’t just imply that hydroelectric is a clean energy source. You didn’t just say that, did you? Brian K.Eugene, Ore. You’ve got the power in your hands.iStockA. Dearest Brian, In my recent column …

  • Ask Umbra on flag flying

    Q. Dear Umbra, Like any proud American, I want to fly our flag 24 hours a day to show my reverence for this awesome country. I am torn, though, because section 6a of the Flag Code requires the flag to …

  • Ask Umbra on living off the grid

    Q. Hi Umbra, You’ve made several mentions of living off the grid in previous columns, and I was wondering where someone should find such things? It seems as though there are secret communities and communes that everyone seems to know …

  • Ask Umbra on light timers

    Q. Dear Umbra, So I’ve gotten a lot better at turning out the lights when I’m not in the room. I’ve still got some work to do in terms of turning off power strips when I’m not using appliances though. …