Umbra Fisk

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

Climate & Energy

Umbra on biodegradable products

Dearest Umbra, With biodegradable corn-plastic products like clothes hangers, credit cards, and trash bags, we are led to believe there are good alternatives to plastic that can be thrown out guilt-free. But doesn’t all trash get put in landfills that …


Umbra on replacing toilets

Dear Umbra, I’m selling my house in Los Angeles and my toilet is not low-flow. One of the inspectors is trying to tell me I need to replace my toilet with a new low-flow. Well, I know the old ziplock …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on fireworks

Dear Umbra, Our family has always lit a fair amount of fireworks for our 4th of July celebration. I would like to encourage my family and friends to find other ways to celebrate due to the CO2 emissions that will …


Umbra on water filters

Dear Umbra, I drink a lot of water. I have a food-grade stainless-steel canteen, and I filter my tap water via a Brita. I try to minimize my purchase of plastics, and I try to avoid plastics being anywhere near …


Umbra on peeing at the beach

Dear Umbra, When at a beach with no bathrooms, is it better, environmentally speaking, to urinate in the ocean or behind a sand dune? Tom Greenville, N.C. Dearest Tom, A good, silly summer question to consider as regards our impact …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on solar funding

Dear Umbra, I have been looking high and low regarding ongoing tax credits and incentives for solar installations on private residences. I may be looking for something that doesn’t even exist, but the rumors certainly do. Is there some website …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on passive solar

Dear Umbra, Not to belabor the home heating series, I’m considering installing a masonry stove. I’ve read that they’re quite efficient, though costly to build. What’s your take in relation to the other options you’ve discussed? What about other alternative …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on solar hot-water systems

Dear Umbra, I would like to change to solar heating for providing some of our electricity requirements, particularly for hot water. Can you advise me how to go about it? Leela Pienaar Grahamstown, South Africa Dearest Leela, I notice you’re …

Climate & Energy

Umbra on thin-film solar panels

Dear Umbra, I read that thin-film solar panels are now being produced on a wider scale. I always hear that they can be sandwiched into window glass, but are there any companies that are actually using the technology in architectural …