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 green donations

Hey Umbra, With strict instructions from me, my parents decided to skip most of the presents this Christmas and give me the big-ticket item I had requested: money to give away. They’ve given me $1,000, far more than I expected, …

Umbra on (inherited) fur coats

Oh advice maven on all things green, I have a problem! I live in a very cold climate (read: Great White North) and my mother recently gave me my grandmother’s old fur coat. It is the warmest thing I have …


Umbra on Camelbaks

Dear Umbra, Recently, I’ve started to try to avoid plastics (especially plastic water bottles). For Christmas, my brother gave me a Camelbak-type water bottle. How safe is this? I assume it’s as bad as most plastic water bottles. Timothy Kearney …


Umbra on resolutions for 2008

Dear Umbra, Sorry to crowd your inbox, but I just want to thank you for answering my question about paint disposal … it was very helpful (as always). I’m SO glad you’re back from being kidnapped. I hope it wasn’t …


Umbra on organic mattresses

Dear Umbra, I need a new mattress and really want to buy one that is not doused in chemicals — in other words, an organic mattress. I’ve searched a number of sites online and have been horrified by the prices. …


Umbra on paint disposal

Dear Umbra, A friend of mine is a painter. He is concerned about the environment and has been trying to find out how to dispose of his paint buckets, extra paint, and other supplies in a way that is eco-friendly, …

Umbra on a safe return

Dearest Readers, I am back. My captors released me early this morning, and I have never been happier to walk somewhere in my life. All that driving gets one down, doesn’t it? Big thanks to the more than 2,000 of …


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, I feel like the stereotypical …


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) invention is this little plastic …