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Ask Umbra: Is the Ice Bucket Challenge a waste of water and money?

A reader wonders how much water has been wasted to raise money for ALS. Umbra says it's a drop in the bucket.

Ask Umbra: Is “canned air” bad for the planet?

A reader threatens to use an air duster to clean her office. "Drop the spray can and step away from the computer," says Umbra. "We don't want anyone to get hurt."

Ask Umbra: How can I green up my back-to-school shopping?

A reader frets that his buying binge could be bad for the planet. Umbra says this three-ring shopping circus can really get you in a bind.

Ask Umbra: Am I a bad person for wanting to flee to the suburbs?

A reader is considering running for the hills following a rash of shootings in his city neighborhood. Umbra breaks down his options.

Ask Umbra: Will Teflon pans poison my food?

To stick or non to stick. That is the question. Umbra says 'tis nobler to stick.

Ask Umbra: What’s that stuff dripping out of my neighbor’s air conditioner?

A reader wonders about the constant drip from upstairs. Umbra offers a few drops of wisdom.

Ask Umbra: How can I get rid of all of this packaging foam?

A reader wonders what to do with the annoying foam padding her purchases. Umbra packs it up, packs it in.

Ask Umbra: What should I do with my nasty old pillows?

Readers wonder if and where they should toss old pillows. Umbra makes a strong pillowcase.

Ask Umbra: Are organic cherries worth the extra expense?

A reader wonders if there's really pesticide residue on her fresh fruit. Umbra says it's time to break with conventinal.

Ask Umbra: What’s a girl to do with soap that’s full of plastic microbeads?

A reader says she's stuck with some unwanted exfoliant. Umbra helps her shed a few bottles of bubbles.

Ask Umbra: Can I survive in the city with just a bike?

A reader wonders whether she can ditch her car. Umbra offers some wheely good advice.

Ask Umbra: Is it safe to water veggies from my rain barrels?

A reader wonders if he can use rain barrel water for his garden. Umbra collects her thoughts.

Ask Umbra: What is the greenest party-drink vessel of all?

Cups or cans? That is the question. To which Umbra replies: "Neither."

Ask Umbra: Is it safe to use newspaper as garden mulch?

A reader frets about dioxins in his topsoil. It's a dirty question, but somebody's got to answer it.

Ask Umbra: How can I find a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t suck (electricity)?

A reader wonders how to keep his floors clean in the greenest manner possible. Umbra gets swept up in the possibilities.

Ask Umbra: Why is my face scrub full of tiny plastic beads?

A reader is having a hard time finding fish-friendly exfoliants. Umbra says therein lies the rub.

Ask Umbra: Which is lighter on the land, wild game or farmed meat?

A reader is searching for the most eco-friendly flesh. Umbra chews on the alternatives.

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