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 green cookware

    Dear Umbra, I’m thinking it’s time to start switching out my family’s cookware. When hubby and I got legally partnered, we received some Calphalon (am I allowed to name names?) and pseudo-Calphalon non-stick cookware, and we’ve used it for a …

  • Umbra on aerosols

    Dear Umbra, Love the column. Keep up the great stuff! A question: My co-workers and I are suspicious of buying spray cans, even though we know they no longer contain CFCs. We suspect that aerosol cans contain HCFCs — hydrochlorofluorocarbons …

  • Umbra on driveways

    Dear Umbra, What is the most eco-friendly driveway material? Jean K.Newington, Conn. Dearest Jean, Other than “no driveway because no car,” dunno. I can tell you all the characteristics possessed by a good eco-friendly driveway material, but no single material …

  • Umbra on shifting to vegetarianism

    Dear Umbra, I recently became a vegetarian for environmental reasons. Everyone says I should start eating soy products and tofu. But doesn’t soy come from evil industrial farms in Iowa? I thought the idea was to increase biodiversity, not just …

  • Umbra on small steps with big impacts

    Dear Umbra, This year my family is not in the position to make any major CO2-reducing changes. We will not be purchasing a new car, a smaller house, or more efficient appliances. And honestly, with two small children living in …

  • Umbra on the importance of voting

    Dear Umbra, I have a friend who is a fellow environmental studies major, and he says he’s not going to vote because he “doesn’t agree with the system.” I’ve had numerous discussions with him about how important it is to …

  • Umbra on wine bottle stoppers

    Dear Umbra, Here’s a question I couldn’t find an answer to in the Grist archives: What kind of plastic is being used for the corks in wine bottles? If I decide to put a bottle in the cellar for several …

  • Umbra on cruise control

    Dear Umbra, To cruise or not to cruise? That is the question. Is it more fuel efficient to use cruise control when driving, or does it use more gas to use the cruise? Carrie Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Dearest Carrie, Whether …

  • Umbra on being an energy-efficient renter

    Dear Umbra, I’m an apartment dweller in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it doesn’t get too cold or too hot. Still, my energy bill is much too high for my liking and I’m wondering what I can do to …