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.

  • Umbra on the other greenhouse gases

    Dear Umbra, I have heard and am beginning to understand one of the biggest movements of social change occurring right now: we need to reduce our carbon footprint. I have also heard that while carbon is our most abundant greenhouse …

  • Umbra on hot tubs

    Cool your jets. Dear Umbra, We purchased a home with an existing four-person, 500-gallon wooden hot tub with a two-stage electric pump. When should a hot tub be turned off to save energy? City Light recommends that our tub be …

  • Umbra on water softeners

    Dear Umbra, I live in an area that has fairly hard water. The calcium build-up on the sink faucets, shower enclosures, and even the dog water bowls is really bad, and hard to remove. So I have considered a full …

  • Umbra on catchy Earth Day slogans

    Dear Umbra, My work colleagues are trying to think of a catchy slogan to celebrate Earth Day this year. We typically plan a week of activities to educate and increase awareness of the benefits of being green. However, we are …

  • Umbra on incendiary topics

    Dear Umbra, Your investigation for the raw milk advice apparently didn’t trip over the Real Milk Campaign of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I hope you can remedy the oversight in a future column. Stephen Guesman Alabama Dearest Stephen, Thank …

  • Umbra on cleaning cars inside and out

    Dear Umbra, I recently bought a new-to-me car (fuel efficient!). It’s the nicest car I’ve ever owned, so I want to keep it well-maintained and clean. What are some environmentally friendly ways to keep my car clean, both inside and …

  • Umbra on LCD vs. plasma TVs

    Dear Umbra, My husband and I are going to be buying a new television soon. Between an LCD and a plasma set, which is the more environmentally friendly? Lorraine B. Ossining, N.Y. Dearest Lorraine, Welcome to the promised follow-up to …

  • Umbra on the digital conversion

    Dear Umbra, I’m awfully concerned about this switch to digital televisions, and it’s not because I’m worried about getting a converter box. I’m anxious at the prospect of millions of old televisions finding their way into the landfills in one …

  • Umbra on beer and wine

    Hi Umbra, Due to, among other things, (organic) beer, I ended up in a rather heated discussion on the environment the other day. I’m wondering if you could help clear up a couple of these more or less classic micro-level …