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 smelly CFLs (and mercury too)

Dear Umbra, We have been replacing our incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, but we notice that the compact fluorescents have an odd smell. …

Umbra on CFLs and dimmers

Dearest Umbra, Are there compact fluorescent bulbs for lights on dimmer switches? Why can’t I use regular CFLs in dimmers? Dimly, Julia L. Ottawa, Ontario, …

Umbra on couches

Dear Umbra, I am in the market to buy a new couch (our current couch is older than me — it’s 27!). Is it better …

Umbra on ethanol

Dear Umbra, I’m a little amazed by all the bandwagon-jumping going on over E85 ethanol. I wonder if a corn-based fuel can be sustainable over …

Umbra on canola oil

Dear Umbra, I recently saw “organic canola oil” on a salad dressing bottle. I looked up the origin of canola oil, and it looks like …

Umbra on the cost of organics

Dear Umbra, How come it’s so expensive to go organic? I could swing it by myself by eating a bare minimum of food, but I’m …

Umbra on composting weeds

Dear Umbra, I’ve been weeding the garden and yard, and got to thinking about some of the more invasive plants. I’ve heard that not everything …

Umbra on building a deck

Dear Umbra, It’s spring, my house turns 100 years old this year, and I would like to celebrate by adding a deck. But what type …

Umbra on global warming and you

Dear Umbra, I love the scientific ins and outs, really I do, but what oh what can we do about global warming? And I mean …