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 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. …

  • Umbra on cookbooks

    Dear Umbra, I am trying to eat local foods within the seasons, but most of my cookbooks include ingredients from multiple seasons in a single recipe. Can you offer any cookbooks or advice for finding more seasonal recipes? Yours locally …

  • Umbra on food-waste collection

    Dear Umbra, Are any communities collecting food waste — potato peels, meat scraps, corn husks, etc. — for recycling? Is there a market for such material? Wendy S. Far Hills, N.J. Dearest Wendy, Yes and yes. Multiple communities collect food …

  • Umbra on compost and climate

    Dear Umbra, I was explaining to my neighbor (who doesn’t even recycle) why he shouldn’t throw out a bag of leaves with his trash. Just to clarify, he asked what to do with it. I explained composting; he doesn’t want …

  • Umbra on composting with worms

    Dear Umbra, I recently moved into a studio apartment in an urban area. I used to compost in my backyard but don’t have that option anymore. I looked into getting a worm bin to use inside my apartment, but the …

  • Umbra on unused fireplaces

    Dear Umbra, We have a gas fireplace and a new baby girl, so we have decided to not use the fireplace this winter. What is the best way to keep the cold air from coming in through the fireplace? JeffRochester, …