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 chocolate

Dear Umbra, Although I buy most of my chocolate as fair trade or organic, I was wondering if you might enlighten me on the politics and economics of the chocolate (cocoa) industry. Where is most …

Umbra on synthetic fabrics and kids

Dear Umbra, I have just recently learned about all these plastic-awareness issues and now wonder about polyester clothing, or any human-made fabric for that matter, on my children (three girls: 3, 5, and 7 years …

Umbra on kayak materials

Dear Umbra, I’m planning on kayaking the Inside Passage next summer and am having a hard time deciding what kind of boat to get. Are there any environmental reasons to choose a kayak material? Mostly …

Umbra on reducing consumption

Dear Umbra, If recycling requires energy to turn one’s discarded waste into usable products, and “climate solutions take precedence over garbage-production concerns,” as you wrote in June, why are we so focused on recycling and …

Umbra on owning multiple cars

Dear Umbra, Your recent column suggested that the questioners sell one of their two cars, but I can’t help wondering how much good that does for the environment, especially weighed against the annoyance cost of …

Umbra on recycled toilet paper

Dear Umbra, The few brands of recycled-content toilet paper available are nasty. Why is it so difficult to manufacture TP that’s not from virgin trees but doesn’t feel like bark on one’s sensitive skin? What …

Umbra on phosphates in detergents

Dear Umbra, Why haven’t phosphates been removed from dishwashing detergents like they have been from laundry detergents? I know they make your clothing look brighter, but what do they do for dishes? Natalie Waddell-Rutter North …

Umbra on LEDs

Dear Umbra, Where are the LED replacement bulbs for normal household incandescents? They’re supposed to be more efficient, cheaper, cooler, longer-lasting, and less toxic, right? So why aren’t there any LED bulbs similar to CFLs? …

Umbra on oil drilling and seismic activity

Dear Umbra, How is drilling for oil affecting the stabilization of our planet? I wonder how much all the drilling is disturbing the earth’s crust. Could this be part of the problem causing tsunamis, earthquakes, …

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