Umbra Fisk

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.


Umbra on meat eating and global warming

Dear Umbra, I see that PETA’s latest campaign says that meat eating is the No. 1 cause of global warming, not SUVs. This statement may be manipulative and political, but — is it true? J.Helena, Mont. Dearest J., I’ll bite. …


Umbra on vegetarian remorse

Dear Umbra, I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years. I started when I was 15, on pretty much a whim just to see if I could do it, but since then I’ve come to appreciate what I’m doing for …


Umbra on reusing bath water

Hi Umbra, My new (to me) house has a somewhat larger than standard bathtub with jets. I rarely have time for a bath, but last night took the opportunity to indulge. I had a nice soak, in water heated by …

Umbra on mini-dilemmas

Dear Umbra, Unfortunately, my nose runs a lot even when I am not sick. I’ve always wondered about the disposal of tissues and hope you can help calm my environmental nerves. Is it best to use a standard tissue and …


Umbra on singles and CSAs

Hi Umbra! I’ve held back from joining a CSA because 1) I live alone and am worried about wasting food, and 2) I’m worried I’ll get so much oddball stuff, especially in the winter, that I won’t know what to …

Umbra on attracting wildlife

Hi Umbra, I agree with your analysis of bird feeders, and would like to share a win-win solution. I have a huge variety of birds that visit my yard year-round. Instead of bird feeders, I have planted an abundance of …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on replacing a boiler

Dear Umbra, When changing boilers for heating a house for the next 30 to 40 years, should we choose gas or electric? We have gas now and want to go from 80 percent efficient to 95 percent efficient. About 60 …


Umbra on community-supported agriculture

Umbra, Please illuminate CSAs for us, how they work, and how your readers can join one. Thanks! (And by the way, that photo of a peach in your recent column is an apricot.) Bobbe Santa Fe, N.M. Dearest Bobbe, Alas …


Umbra on organic pork

Dear Umbra, Commercial pork production is a nasty, polluting operation and inhumane to the animals. What makes organic pork different? Simply what they are fed, or does it involve more humane and less polluting production operations? Related, I have been …