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 effective activism

Dear Umbra, If an environmentalist has about six hours per week to devote to activism, what should the person do to make the biggest, most positive impact? Some people (like myself) think that climate protection …

Umbra on environmental print magazines

Dear Umbra, Can you recommend a paper magazine dedicated to environmental/social-justice issues that has the same kind of light touch and zany humor that Grist has? I’ve found that getting really good reading material into …

Umbra on freshwater

Dear Umbra, What percentage of the Earth’s water is drinkable? What are the remaining percents in categories, such as salt water, polluted water (polluted with what?), and frozen water? And where can I find these …

Umbra on reusable recycling bags

Dear Umbra, I am the cofounder and current president of the Recycling Club at R.L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas. We have started collecting cell phones and plan to donate them to Verizon, …

Umbra on making eco-friendly cleaning products

Dear Umbra, I’d like to start making my own environmentally friendly cleaning products for my home. Are there any books or websites you would recommend for cleaning “recipes”? Rachel P.S. — Thanks ever so much …

Umbra on leather upholstery

Dear Umbra, It seems everyone is getting leather upholstery in their cars and on their couches these days. Where is it coming from — the same cows that are being slaughtered for hamburgers, or special …

Umbra on the outcome of the last pollutocrat contest

Dear Umbra, So, what were the results of the “pollutocrat” contest? I recall seeing several web postings by editors to “watch out” for this term, as if the rest of a letter’s content was somehow …

Umbra on which plastics to avoid

Dear Umbra, Since you only mention #1 plastics as being safe, I’m assuming I should throw out the #4 I just purchased? SylviaAnn Arbor, Mich. Dearest Sylvia, I confused and frightened and annoyed many of …

Umbra on plastic water bottles, again

Dear Umbra, After slurping away from a Nalgene bottle all summer, you struck me with the fear of petrochemicals. So I did some quick research on my own. My conclusion is that your Aug. 2 …

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