Umbra Fisk

Ask Umbra®

Advice for Living Green

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

Umbra on composting toilets, again

Dear Umbra, I’m attempting to “green” my home, room by room. I’ve heard of low-flow toilets, but someone just told me about composting toilets. Do they smell bad? Will my grandmother use it or ask …

Umbra on heating with bathwater

Dear Umbra, After a hot bath, I leave the water in the tub so the heat will go into the room. My husband says the heat saved is inconsequential. How would one calculate the BTUs …

Umbra on climate confusion

Dear Umbra, Any chance that the most extreme of the peak-oil folks are correct, and that in spite of our thoughtlessness, we just won’t have enough oil to totally destroy the ozone layer? Dan WassonPittsburgh, …

Umbra on coffee

Dear Umbra, I am a seriously indulgent coffee drinker. Lately, there have been a ton of “green” coffee shops popping up. I like to support local coffee shops, and I want to believe that they …

Umbra on waiting for warm water

Dear Umbra, You know how, when you turn on the hot water in an old building, it usually takes a while for it to kick in? Well, my question is, if I turn on the …

Umbra on diesel vs. standard gasoline cars

Dear Umbra, I’ve always heard bad things about diesel fuel. However, I know someone who has a diesel VW that gets 50 miles to the gallon. I’m wondering if you could do a cost-benefit analysis …

Umbra on bicycle commuting, again

Dear Umbra, So what about bike commuting? Is it safe? Is it good? Is it encouraged? P.K. BorzoSt. Paul, Minn. Dearest P.K., Yes, yes, yes. Lungwise, biking is at least as safe as driving, if …

Answers to readers’ most frequently asked questions about green dilemmas

Should I use paper or plastic bags at the grocery store? Neither one is better. Best choice: bring your own cloth bag. Should I dry my hands with paper towels or the electric blow dryer? …

Umbra on the perfect eco-day

Dear Umbra, But the question was paper or plastic. We are asked every time we go shopping. What if we’re doing all those things you suggested, and we still want to know if we should …

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