Q: Every time I’m lathering with Dr. Bronner’s hemp castile soap, I wonder, what is castile soap? And how is it different from my bar of olive oil-based soap from the farmer’s market, or my partner’s Dove? Finally, does the ingredient triclosan in antibacterial soap really convert to dioxin in sunlight?
Susan, Washington, D.C.
Find out what Umbra has to say about castile soap.
Q: When my garbage disposal died recently, it led me to wonder which is kinder to the environment: putting kitchen waste in the disposal or just trashing it? I compost whenever possible, of course, but there are always scraps that are mixed with animal fat and shouldn’t be added to a compost pile.
Richard, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Find out what Umbra has to say about getting rid of kitchen waste.
Umbra Fisk dispenses advice on all things green for Grist Magazine, an online publication tackling environmental topics with irreverence, intelligence and a fresh perspective. To submit a question, e-mail