Ask Umbra®

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 car seat recycling

Dear Umbra, What do you recommend for child car seat disposal or, better yet, recycling? Near as I can tell, options include giving them away to someone who needs them (a pretty discouraged practice) or sending them to Oregon or …

Umbra on the never-ending diaper ado

My Sweet Umbra, The diaper debate continues! I’ve read Grist’s position, and I even saw the same answer posted in your FAQs, which means I’m not supposed to be asking you about it again (all change has been effected by …

Umbra on wedding registries again

Hi Umbra, I’m getting married in August, and I’ve registered on Heifer International, but am looking for other ways to offer gift-givers a way to buy socially conscious and green gifts. Since “green,” fair-trade, and organic are all the rage, …

Umbra on biking with kids

Umbra, Your columns have opened up a whole new world on transport by bike. I don’t have a question but am considering purchasing our second Xtracycle for our family. I can carry our toddler and all our groceries, or another …

Umbra on kiddie pools

Dear Umbra, Regarding your obsession with vinyl, as pertains to summer parenting: Greenpeace’s thorough Vinyl Alternatives list indicates that no good alternatives to vinyl kiddie pools exist. Do you think it is worth it to put a huge effort into …

Umbra on carbon calculators

Dearest Umbra, I recently heard an interesting interview on NPR, and the speaker was talking about how, to stop global warming, all humans would have to limit their carbon emissions to just one ton of carbon per person, per year. …

Umbra on the impacts of biking

Dear Umbra, A couple of your recent columns have been about this novel idea of biking as the end-all in green transportation, but how green is biking, especially when you go out to buy a new one? If you switch …

Umbra on biking in a skirt

Dear Umbra, I was really energized by your column on cargo bicycles. I still own a car, but I drive it less and less, mostly to haul stuff and to travel when I want to wear a nice dress. So, …

Umbra on water conservation

Dear Umbra, We are doing a NW Earth Institute discussion course on sustainability here at work, and someone asked, “Is it necessary for us to conserve water here in Portland despite seeming abundance and replenishment? If so, why?” My response …