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 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 …

  • 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 …

  • Umbra on sustainable meat

    Dear Umbra, My wife and I recently began changing the way we eat. We located several free-range/pastured farms here in the area, and found that some local restaurants buy meat from these farms. We plan on supporting these establishments. My …

  • Umbra on prioritizing organic purchases

    Hi Umbra! I just recently became a stay-at-home mom. Life is bliss, except for the one-income household we now have (my husband brings home the tofu-bacon). Now that we have very limited funds I cannot afford to buy all organic …