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 rebuilding the Gulf Coast

Dear Umbra, There seem to be plenty of good organizations accepting dollars to help the people of the Gulf Coast. But as The Nature Conservancy has said, “While current attention is rightfully focused on the …

Umbra on preparing for winter

Dear Umbra, With the coming winter, our local news did a story on how to save on heating. The tips included window treatments, lowering the water heater, etc. But those of us in apartments are …

Umbra on used cars

Dear Umbra, With rising — OK, skyrocketing — gas prices, I would like to invest in a car that gets good mileage and is reliable. However, I can’t afford a new Toyota Prius. Do you …

Umbra on bicycle commuting

Dear Umbra, My question regards my daily half-hour (each way) bicycle commute through fairly heavy city traffic. I’ve been wondering if the benefits (exercise, sunshine, free and fast transport) are outweighed by the negatives (primarily …

Umbra on kitty litter

Dear Umbra, I recently adopted a cat, and I am having a hard time deciding what to do with the kitty litter. Is there some kind of green litter that is best to use? Anything …

Rake's Progress

Ask Umbra on autumn leaves

With summer slinking away and fall breezing in, Grist advice maven Umbra Fisk offers eco-advice for dealing with autumn leaves.

Umbra on speed limits

Dear Umbra, I was babbling about the ’70s energy crisis, gas rationing, and the nationwide 55 mile-per-hour speed limit at work the other day, and found myself explaining to a group of younger people how …

Umbra on architectural salvage

Dear Umbra, We recently replaced the doorknobs in our place, so we have a fistful of old yet working doorknobs I’d hate to just toss. What to do with this and other perfectly good hardware? …

Umbra on windows

Dear Umbra, I just bought an old house and need to replace some of the windows. Are there alternatives to vinyl windows that will still cut down on heat loss? Noah WinerPhiladelphia, Pa. Dearest Noah, …