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 bleach

Greetings, I recently was infected with MRSA. It got better. As part of my treatment I’m supposed to use bleach in my laundry and around the house to help kill the bacteria. While I’m brunette, …


Umbra on Jell-O shots

Greetings, A very important discussion among my colleagues this week: is it better to purchase reusable, petroleum-based products (plastic) or to use paper disposables? Specifically, we’re talking about Jell-O shot cups. A recent (and brilliant) …


Umbra on cooking oil, again

Dear Umbra, You missed a fantastic opportunity to promote biodiesel use of the cooking oil. There are many people collecting frying oil from restaurants and the like, and perhaps the reader could find a person …


Umbra on living Christmas trees

Hi Umbra, I’m surprised that in your column on Christmas trees, you didn’t mention the option of living trees, although I know they cannot be subjected to our warm indoor temperatures for very long. Can …


Umbra on used cooking oil

Dear Umbra, It’s always nice to look through cookbooks and to watch cooking shows that feature yummy deep-fried food, and I have often been tempted to try and cook my own creations. However, no one …


Umbra on reheating coffee

Dear Umbra, As a web developer for a certain respectable online magazine somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, I drink a lot of coffee to keep me alert and my very demanding employers happy. However, in …


On organic Christmas trees

Dear Umbra, Is there such a thing as an organic Christmas tree? How chemical-intensive is conventional Christmas-tree farming? If I want a Christmas tree, what’s the most eco-friendly way to go? Your fan, Lisa Seattle, …

Umbra on green hotels

Dear Umbra, My husband and I are Americans who own a small budget hotel in Rome, Italy. We try to be as eco-friendly as possible: our cafe is local, organic, and vegetarian, we use compact …


Umbra on fireplace ashes

Dear Umbra, What should we do with ashes from the fireplace? I’ve heard that they’re great for the garden and I’ve heard that they may not be so good for the garden. Are they a …