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 class gifts, again

Dear Umbra, My class also wants to give a greener gift when we graduate in 2008. We are starting to plan, and though your suggestion of solar power is awesome and very true, that will not be possible at my …

Umbra on online shopping

Hi Umbra, A friend and I were recently discussing a conundrum about purchasing products from companies that have physical retail outlets and online purchasing, like The Body Shop. Which is the most ecologically sound option? Local store: most likely drive …

Umbra on watering the yard

Dear Umbra, Thanks for your good advice about water conservation. You failed to mention the largest (unnecessary) water user in most U.S. homes: outdoor plant watering. While Grist readers may be eco-wise enough not to water their plants, nor even …

Umbra on gifts for your school

Hi Umbra, I’m the senior president for my high school class. My cabinet and I want to leave a “green” gift to the school. We would like it to be something that is on campus or easily visible. Can you …

Umbra on bicycle tires

Dear Umbra, Is there such a thing as recycled bicycle tires? I have looked and even asked a friend’s husband who wrenches in a local shop. He was not aware of any. I think because people ride their bike they …

Umbra on home heating

Hi Umbra, My fiancée and I bought a house in October. We plan to green the house up as best we can, and one of our first projects will be how we heat the house. Since we didn’t have any …

Umbra on wine corks

Dear Umbra, Not that I am a big-drinking old lady or anything, but I find myself with a lot of wine corks that I can’t find a recycling outlet for. All of my retired farmer friends have made all the …

Umbra on baby gifts

Dear Umbra, I am expecting my first baby, and I am wondering what would be the most polite way to make sure that people who wish to get it a gift understand that I want only organic, used, or sustainable …

Umbra on water conservation

Dear Umbra, Your general drift has been to get us to focus on the big stuff instead of the little paper-or-plastic issues. So what’s the big picture of household water use and overuse? I have a clothes washer and a …