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  • Cape Cod woman finds bike she lost 40 years ago

    Forty years ago, in 1970, little Lisa Brown was riding her totally rad banana-seat bike through the woods of Cape Cod. She approached the Herring River, but the only way to cross it was a rickety plank board bridge. When Brown started out on the bridge it was two feet wide, but halfway across it […]

  • Ball o’ confusion: Ask Umbra on non-toxic exercise balls

    Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I want to buy a stability ball and some purport to be PVC-free and made of non-toxic vinyl. Is there such a thing? RoseNew York City If that ball is vinyl, this scene isn’t as healthy as it looks.Photo: Adria RichardsA. Dearest Rose, I give you snaps […]

  • Ask Umbra’s 5 surprising things to make you a lover like no other

    Send your question to Umbra! Dearest readers, It is said that only amateurs wait for Valentine’s Day to express their love. Readers of this column, I know that you are not in that category. That said, we could all stand to add a few tricks to the sometimes dusty lusty repertoire. So I created this […]

  • Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on Valentine’s Day

    Dearest readers, Sometimes when I’m down in the stacks researching answers to your latest dilemmas, I enjoy taking a stroll down Ask Umbra archives lane. Here are some sparkly tidbits I culled from my past advice on lessening your impact on that sweet little romantic holiday, Valentine’s Day. Have any of your own sustainable loving […]

  • Cash for … other things!

    So Congress approved and President Obama signed an extension of the hugely popular (and not-really-so-green) cash-for-clunkers program. Woohoo! We can think of some better “Cash for …” programs the government should be funding … Cash for computers—Think of the power savings. Not to mention the peace of a Twitter-free life. Cash for cookies—Your sweet tooth […]

  • Umbra on toxic yoga mats

    Dear Umbra, I own a yoga studio and our mats are wearing out and in need of replacement. What’s the best alternative for buying new mats? And if I do get new mats, what’s the best option for disposing of the old ones: donate to one of the many organizations that provide yoga for people […]

  • Umbra on avoiding vinyl

    Hi Umbra! I’ve been in denial about vinyl. Blue Vinyl, the movie, got me thinking, but unfortunately I space out and lie to myself. I even have bought those recently popular adult toys that advertise as being vinyl in large unavoidable proclamations on the front of the box and I still managed somehow to think, […]

  • Umbra on vinyl records

    Umbra, I know that PVC is bad, and vinyl records are PVC (right?), but is there any harm in keeping the records I already have, or should I get rid of them? And if so, what’s the best way to do so? I’ve recently been trying to phase out any “bad” plastics, including anything that […]

  • Umbra on PVC substitutes

    Dear Umbra, I know to avoid PVC, but it’s difficult to know all the places it lurks. Is all vinyl PVC, or are there PVC-free vinyls? What options are there for waterproof but PVC-free materials (I have children who wet the bed and spill, and I would like to protect my mattresses and wood table)? […]