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 peeing in the shower

Dear Umbra, Is it suitable to justify peeing (urinating) while showering in order to save a toilet flush? Any health issues to your feet or shower algae growth? Luke WhistlerBrisbane, Australia Dearest Luke, If I …

Umbra on organic liquors

Hi Umbra, After an epic weekend of drinking, I realized I’ve never seen or heard about any organic liquors. I’ve seen organic beer and wine, but never any organic gin, vodka, scotch, etc. Any chance …

Umbra on oil and plastic

Dear Umbra, How much oil is used to make a pound (or some other comparable measure) of typical plastics? Melody Evans Paris, Ill. Dearest Melody, Ah, Paris. Is it as lovely in the springtime as …

Umbra on chlorine

Dear Umbra, So I’ve been buying unbleached diapers for my baby, using chlorine-free laundry and dish soaps and non-chlorine bleached paper, and generally thinking that’s better for me and the environment. Then I go swimming …

Umbra on landfills vs. incinerators

Hi Umbra, Is there an environmentally preferable choice between sending your trash to a landfill or an incinerator? I know to think of the three R’s first, but what’s the better way to dispose of …

Umbra on disposing of toxic chemicals

Dear Umbra, Now that I’ve caught the environmental bug, I don’t know what to do with the toxic cleaning products (e.g., Ajax) that I have on hand. As a bulk buyer, I’ve got 5 to …

Umbra on insulation, again

Dear Umbra, You’re wrong, you can blow in insulation yourself. At every Home Depot I’ve been to, you can buy either fiberglass loose-fill insulation or cellulose loose-fill insulation, and you can also rent the machine …

Umbra on boiling water for tea

Dear Umbra, My roommates seem to be constantly boiling water for tea. We’ve got a gas stove, a microwave, and an electric teakettle. However, we don’t know which option is most efficient. Any ideas? Kate …

Umbra on air quality and temperature

Dear Umbra, Is there a relationship between air quality and temperature? I thought about this on my bike ride to work this morning when the smell of exhaust from cars seemed more potent, and the …