Q: I’ve done the research, and I’m ready to buy my first front-loading washing machine. Then a pesky friend starts asking the tough questions: “Does your existing machine work?” Yes. “Are you going to sell it to someone else who will keep using it?” Yes. “So, two machines where there used to be one ... how is that better for the environment?” Can you help me answer this one? I’m facing the same issue on the transportation front, as I just convinced my spouse that he should sell his 2002 Subaru and buy a Toyota Prius.
Kathleen Whitson, Seattle
Find out what Umbra has to say about replacing appliances.
Q: Our garage is in need of a new roof. We would like to build a “living roof” and are wondering where to start. Our long-term plan is to convert the space into an art studio, complete with insulation, electricity and finished walls and floor. Do you have any pithy suggestions for us to consider while planning our green roof, considering it will eventually cover a finished room?
Lesley, Victoria, British Columbia
Find out what Umbra has to say about green roofs.
Umbra Fisk dispenses advice on all things green for Grist Magazine, an online publication that tackles environmental topics with irreverence, intelligence and a fresh perspective. To submit a question, e-mail