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 carbon offsets

    Dear Umbra, I’ve been reading the whole back-and-forth about carbon offsets, and it seems strange to me that most (all?) of the ones I’ve seen fund projects that, while worthwhile, may or may not result in the promised emissions reduction. …

  • Umbra on tossing food waste

    Dear Umbra, I am a college student. I eat a lot on the go. Not fast food or boxed meals, but when I leave my dorm I usually grab an apple, banana, or other fruit/veggie to eat as I walk …

  • Umbra on live trapping

    Dear Umbra, My wife and I live in a small town in Massachusetts, where I recently volunteered to head up an effort to certify our Unitarian Universalist congregation as a Green Sanctuary, an official recognition of our environmental stewardship. In …

  • Umbra on household help and homemade cleansers

    Dear Umbra, I recently moved in with my investment-banker boyfriend. So far, my efforts to teach him to have more fun with less stuff have been largely successful; however, I’ve hit a roadblock when it comes to his cleaning lady. …

  • Brood Awakenings: On parenting and health

    Umbra on kids’ birthday parties

    Dear Umbra, I have a wonderful daughter who is just about to turn 5. She is currently the only grandchild and niece to our families, and therefore has everything she needs (still less than many kids we know, but plenty). …

  • Umbra on green laundry detergents

    Dear Umbra, What are the “green” high-efficiency detergents for washers? Thanks,Marilyn Dearest Marilyn, A perfect question for parenting fortnight. Children have such tiny clothing that you wouldn’t think it would add up to an increase in laundry volume. Until you …

  • Umbra on the impact of food purchases

    Hi Umbra, I practically live on Lean Cuisine (that brand specifically — they are frequently on sale for $2 each). In my community, the plastic tray is recyclable, as is the cardboard box. The only thing that goes in the …

  • 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 …