Umbra Fisk

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Umbra Fisk is Grist Research Associate II, Hardcover and Periodicals Unit, floors 2B-4B.

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, …

Climate & Energy

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 …


Umbra on tent caterpillars

Dear Umbra, In beautiful Virginia, this is the time of year that the caterpillars start making their “tents” in branches of shrubbery and trees in our yards. Conventional wisdom has been to destroy them, as they will surely eat the …


Umbra on buying eco-products in bulk

Dear Umbra, Why can’t I find environmentally friendly products (laundry soap, shampoo, etc.) in bulk packaging? It seems like there are many companies that make products that are not so hard on the planet, but they are only sold in …


Umbra on plastic bottles and BPA

Dear Umbra, I’ve been hearing a lot in the news lately about the dangers of certain kinds of plastic bottles. What’s the lowdown? Thirstily, Ginger Littleton, Colo. Dearest Ginger, Always happy to be your source for the lowest lowdown around …


Umbra on soil health

Dear Umbra, I asked about fava beans about two weeks ago, and have not had a response back. I have had no luck researching it myself, and would really appreciate a response. I asked at what point in the plant’s …


Umbra on lead and gardens

Dear Umbra, In your reply to the question about pollution and rooftop gardening, you talked a fair amount about lead pollution. Since gasoline is no longer leaded, and since it’s container gardening that wouldn’t have any lead paint in it, …


Umbra on cargo bikes

Hi Umbra, After reading your article on the amazing Thermos, coffee, and bicycle commuting, I thought I should alert you (if you’re not already alerted) to the Xtracycle (or S.U.B.) as a means for everyday, super-utilitarian biking. I replaced my …


Umbra on hauling goods by bike

Hi Umbra, Love your column. I’m a daily bicycle commuter and coffee achiever. Here’s a cool mug and handlebar mount [for the reader who asked about transporting coffee]. Cheers, John Denver, Colo. Dearest John, Thank you. Take a look at …