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.

Soil and Trouble

Are plastic soil beads safe for my plants?

A reader in Ontario wonders if plastic soil beads are safe for her plants, and advice maven Umbra Fisk digs in.

Seal or No Seal

Can I reseal my deck without hurting the local waterway?

A reader who lives near Puget Sound wonders how he can tackle a home improvement project with a clean conscience. Advice maven Umbra Fisk lays it on thick.

A Tine to Remember

Which disposable utensils are lightest on the land?

A piercing question from Saskatoon: Which disposable utensils have the least impact? Advice maven Umbra Fisk sets the table with an answer you "woodn't" believe.

Lullaby and Good Fright

What kind of mattress is best for my baby?

When an expectant mother from St. Louis wonders what kind of mattress is best for baby, advice maven Umbra Fisk spits up a few suggestions.

A Pesc-y Question

I’ve stopped eating fish, but should I feed it to my kid?

Seafood has its share of baggage, from overfishing to mercury -- does that outweigh the nutritional benefits? Reel talk from advice maven Umbra Fisk.

Oolong Time Coming

If you don’t talk to your co-workers about tea-kettle use, who will?

When a writer from Vermont finds herself in a tea-obsessed office, she wonders which water-heating method is the most energy-efficient. In response, advice maven Umbra Fisk thinks steep thoughts.

Induction Deduction

Which type of stovetop is the most energy-efficient?

Which stovetop is most efficient, a reader from B.C. wonders -- and advice maven Ask Umbra cranks up an answer.

Grease Enlightening

The bitter truth about butter’s environmental impacts

A recently converted vegan wonders if it takes more energy to produce cooking oils than it does to make butter. Advice maven Umbra Fisk says she shouldn't waffle.

First, Do No Parm

Would you give up cheese to slow climate change?

When a reader in France wonders what role cheese should play in a carbon-conscious diet, advice maven Umbra Fisk explains whether he needs to give Swiss a miss.