Ask Umbra®

The New York Times calls Umbra Fisk "a trailblazer in the field of eco-advice columnists" and "the arch online sage of the new green age." Her latest passion: kale smoothies ... no, sorry, civic engagement, because getting political is the only way we'll get a planet that doesn't burn and a future that doesn't suck. Ask Umbra a question here.

  • Umbra on house siding

    Dear Umbra, I have been a homeowner for five years and gradually I am upgrading the 25-year-old house to be more green. I have finished replacing the single-pane windows with Energy Star-rated double-pane windows. Now I am turning my attention …

  • Umbra on avoiding vinyl

    Hi Umbra! I’ve been in denial about vinyl. Blue Vinyl, the movie, got me thinking, but unfortunately I space out and lie to myself. I even have bought those recently popular adult toys that advertise as being vinyl in large …

  • Umbra on staying positive

    Dear Umbra, I am a new but faithful reader of your excellent column. I’ve learned a lot, but one thing I’ve noticed is that there never seems to be an upside to the answers. Now, this may be just because …

  • Umbra on green-company buyouts

    Dear Umbra, So glad you were ransomed. (I happily did my bit.) I’m worried that the gentle-on-the-environment start-ups are taking the money and running. First our favorite toothpaste, Tom’s of Maine, sold out to Colgate (I think) and now Burt’s …

  • Umbra on vinyl records

    Umbra, I know that PVC is bad, and vinyl records are PVC (right?), but is there any harm in keeping the records I already have, or should I get rid of them? And if so, what’s the best way to …

  • Umbra on choosing a college

    Dear Umbra, I am a high school junior this school year. I am currently researching what college to attend. One major decision in your school choice should be choosing a college that is strong in the field of your study. …

  • Umbra on paper plates

    Dear Umbra, Maybe you can help settle this dispute between my husband and me. He likes to use paper plates for quick/short meals like toast in the morning, cheese and crackers in the evening, etc. He claims that he’s saving …

  • Umbra on leather vs. pleather shoes

    Hi Umbra, As a devoted vegetarian, I try to make it a point to avoid leather footwear. However, after too many hours of deep thought on the subject, I am now conflicted about the environmental ramifications of my choice to …

  • Umbra on nuclear vs. coal

    Dear Umbra, I work for a certain large environmental organization, and I have often had to deal with the issue of nuclear and coal-fired power plants. If ever asked which is better, we are officially supposed to say “neither.” But …