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 replacing toilets

Dear Umbra, I’m selling my house in Los Angeles and my toilet is not low-flow. One of the inspectors is trying to tell me I need to replace my toilet with a new low-flow. Well, …

Umbra on fireworks

Dear Umbra, Our family has always lit a fair amount of fireworks for our 4th of July celebration. I would like to encourage my family and friends to find other ways to celebrate due to …

Umbra on water filters

Dear Umbra, I drink a lot of water. I have a food-grade stainless-steel canteen, and I filter my tap water via a Brita. I try to minimize my purchase of plastics, and I try to …

Umbra on peeing at the beach

Dear Umbra, When at a beach with no bathrooms, is it better, environmentally speaking, to urinate in the ocean or behind a sand dune? Tom Greenville, N.C. Dearest Tom, A good, silly summer question to …

Umbra on solar funding

Dear Umbra, I have been looking high and low regarding ongoing tax credits and incentives for solar installations on private residences. I may be looking for something that doesn’t even exist, but the rumors certainly …

Umbra on passive solar

Dear Umbra, Not to belabor the home heating series, I’m considering installing a masonry stove. I’ve read that they’re quite efficient, though costly to build. What’s your take in relation to the other options you’ve …

Umbra on solar hot-water systems

Dear Umbra, I would like to change to solar heating for providing some of our electricity requirements, particularly for hot water. Can you advise me how to go about it? Leela Pienaar Grahamstown, South Africa …

Umbra on thin-film solar panels

Dear Umbra, I read that thin-film solar panels are now being produced on a wider scale. I always hear that they can be sandwiched into window glass, but are there any companies that are actually …

Umbra on seltzer bottles

Dear Umbra, I love drinking fizzy water, especially in the summer, but I am appalled to learn that the plastic bottles use petroleum in their production. Plus, hauling them home from the supermarket burns gas. …