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 environmental busybodies

Dear Umbra, A friend recently said I should “walk the talk” by replacing my synthetic clothes (purchased before I saw the environmental light, as it were) with new things made entirely of organically grown fibers. …

Umbra on travel mugs

Dear Umbra, I am putting together a fundraiser for the Environmental Law Association at the George Washington University Law School, whereby I intend to sell coffee mugs. If you saw all the paper cups that …

Umbra on inefficient windows

Dear Umbra, I am lucky enough to have a home I really love and food to feed my family and my pets. However, the home has one major energy flaw: it is older and has …

Umbra on window manufacturers

Dear Umbra, We are looking into replacing some of our windows. Any thoughts on which companies are more environmentally friendly, not just in the energy-efficiency of their windows, but in the manufacturing process (Forest Stewardship …

Umbra on dripless candles

Dear Umbra, My family is a big fan of dripless candles. They’re beautiful and don’t provide piles of wax that tempt fingers into creating little messes. Can you tell us how these candles work and …

Umbra on Halloween

Dear Umbra, What do you recommend handing out to the trick-or-treaters this Halloween? I would like to avoid the wasteful packaging and additives found in store-bought goodies. I’d bake my own treats, but I doubt …

Umbra on PVC substitutes

Dear Umbra, I know to avoid PVC, but it’s difficult to know all the places it lurks. Is all vinyl PVC, or are there PVC-free vinyls? What options are there for waterproof but PVC-free materials …

Umbra on battling cockroaches

Dear Umbra, Help! I’m having a mysterious cockroach problem. I found four in my apartment in two weeks, and not in the expected places: one in a stack of papers (I know, I should pay …

Umbra on dryer sheets

Dear Umbra, You mentioned toxic dryer sheets in your recent column on clothing, but without a reference to how they are toxic, etc. Lisa Milligan Fayetteville, Ark. Dearest Lisa, I appreciate the brevity and directness …