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 homegrown meat

    Dear Umbra, I try to eat as many vegetarian meals as possible, but I haven’t “gone all the way” yet, mostly because my in-laws (whom my husband and I live with at the moment) raise beef, chickens, and hunt deer; …

  • Umbra on children’s art supplies

    Hey Umbra, I’ve got a niece with a second birthday coming up and I’d like to get her a present that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer or TV. So, I thought, how about an art set? What …

  • Umbra on e-books

    Dear Umbra, I have noticed that digital book readers have started to enter the market and wonder if they are more ecologically sound than conventional books. I am interested in buying one but suspect that they are full of metals …

  • Umbra on store-brand organics

    Hey Umbra, What with organic foods being so expensive, I’m often tempted to buy the store-brand organic produce that’s cropping up lately. Are the store brands as good (i.e., pesticide free) as any other brand of organic food? I can’t …

  • Umbra on turning down the heat

    Dear Umbra, Many of my friends are environmentally minded and do lots of things to try to have a smaller carbon footprint. Yet when I tell people I turn my heat down when I leave the house even for an …

  • Umbra on greening the office

    Dear Umbra, The Powers That Be at my job have decided to start a Green Initiative. The project got put on the desk of the office manager, who doesn’t know where to start. I signed up to be a part …

  • Umbra on rainforest-protection gifts

    Dear Umbra, This year for Christmas, I want to buy hectares of rainforest for some of my in-laws instead of the usual gift items that may end up in someone’s closet and forgotten, if not regifted. How do organizations that …

  • Umbra on holiday shopping

    Hi Umbra, When it comes to holiday presents, does it really save energy and gas to order stuff online? Rick G. Manchester, N.H. Dearest Rick, Holiday gift time, everyone! Many of you have already begun shopping, I know, and I …

  • Umbra on winter biking

    Dear Umbra, Here in Cleveland we recently endured the first snowstorm of winter. When I look out the window and see all that pretty white stuff, I can’t help but reach for my car keys instead of my bicycle helmet. …