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.

Living

Balloon releases at college football games? Sack that custom

A reader wants to know how his college's customary balloon swarm affects the environment. Umbra offers a crash course.

Living

The secret ingredient in your homemade jam may be coming from the lid

Sure, there's less BPA in use these days -- but, a reader asks Umbra, what about the plastics that replaced it in our cans and bottle tops?

Living

What should you think about when buying essential oils?

It takes tons of plants to make those little phials of essential oils, so the "how" really matters. Umbra offers a guide for the oil-concerned.

Living

Water cooler talk: Should our office ditch that big fat upside down jug?

Is that big jug a sensible way to achieve workday hydration? Or should we just be drinking from the tap? Umbra dives right in for an answer.

Food

Does it matter if my salad greens come in a bag or a box?

If you just can't deal with washing your lettuce yourself, is it better to go for a plastic bag or a plastic box? Umbra has a clear answer.

Living

What’s the best way to get rid of rats?

Umbra counsels a rat-ridden reader to forego the poisons, which tend to harm indiscriminately, and find better ways to remove a rodent.

Living

Two-day shipping: Free to you, but how costly to the planet?

The journey your package takes doesn't have to be a guilt(y) trip. But the faster you want it, the more likely you'll be doing some damage, green-ly speaking.

Living

To sort or not to sort? That is the recycling question

A reader wants to know whether "single stream" recycling is more efficient than the usual sort-paper-and-plastic approach. Umbra digs up the answer.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Are all these soaps, detergents, and shampoos just taking us to the cleaners?

Why are there so many different varieties of cleaning products, and do we need them? Umbra has the sudsy answer.