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 fighting pests with pests

Dear Umbra, I have a pest problem in my backyard — specifically, some tiny (but apparently hungry) insect is making lace out of my basil leaves. I do not want to use pesticides for many …

Umbra on graduation gifts

Dear Umbra, The recent question about a senior gift to the school got me wondering: what are some green gift ideas for graduates? Misty Boyd Tahlequah, Okla. Dearest Misty, Cash. You could help them set …


Umbra on class gifts, again

Dear Umbra, My class also wants to give a greener gift when we graduate in 2008. We are starting to plan, and though your suggestion of solar power is awesome and very true, that will …


Umbra on online shopping

Hi Umbra, A friend and I were recently discussing a conundrum about purchasing products from companies that have physical retail outlets and online purchasing, like The Body Shop. Which is the most ecologically sound option? …

Umbra on watering the yard

Dear Umbra, Thanks for your good advice about water conservation. You failed to mention the largest (unnecessary) water user in most U.S. homes: outdoor plant watering. While Grist readers may be eco-wise enough not to …


Umbra on gifts for your school

Hi Umbra, I’m the senior president for my high school class. My cabinet and I want to leave a “green” gift to the school. We would like it to be something that is on campus …


Umbra on bicycle tires

Dear Umbra, Is there such a thing as recycled bicycle tires? I have looked and even asked a friend’s husband who wrenches in a local shop. He was not aware of any. I think because …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on home heating

Hi Umbra, My fiancée and I bought a house in October. We plan to green the house up as best we can, and one of our first projects will be how we heat the house. …


Umbra on wine corks

Dear Umbra, Not that I am a big-drinking old lady or anything, but I find myself with a lot of wine corks that I can’t find a recycling outlet for. All of my retired farmer …