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ISSUE 08 / SPRING 2013

WATER WISE Every drop connects us


Watersheds-every drop connects us & Artist Kristin Morrison talks watershed-friendly dyes.



Bob Hurley and Rob Machado explain the power of )(2O.

Harvesting spring rainfall P.22


P.04 / 10

Photo: Scott Sporleder

In this Issue


ISSUE #8 / SPRING 2013


Spring 2013 Issue #8



Evan Marks CURATOR

Founder & Executive Director of The Ecology Center. With his background in permaculture and agroecology, and, having worked extensively in California and Hawaii and internationally in Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Ghana and Nigeria, Evan knows that people have the ability to directly impact the environment through individual change.

David Rager


David has been lending his art direction and graphic designs talent to The Ecology Center since the day one. When he’s not designing, he can be found living and riding his bike in Paris, France.


A graduate from Otis College of Art and Design who loves black coffee and creating systems within various forms of visual communication.

Jessica Watkins WRITER/EDITOR

Scott Sporleder

He is directly involved in the programs run by the Foundation, often appearing An artist with an award- at schools to encourage students’ efforts. winning eye, Scott travels the world capturing unique cul- Kristin Morrison tural and natural moments in WRITER/ARTIST photographs. When stateside, Scott reMorrison spent years working sides in Laguna Beach, where you can find as a stylist, studied fashion & him pursuing photography and whenever works in the areas of fiber art, possible spending time in the ocean. natural dye & surface design. She is partner in rittermorrison, a multi disciplinary design and concept studio. CONTRIBUTORS Currently morrison is a resident artist at the textile arts center in Brooklyn, NY J. Loren Butler where she is developing an exhibition. WRITER/VINTNER Loren Butler is a freelance When not in the studio, morrison spends writer based on California's her time harvesting dye plants, taking Central Coast, where he also photographs, surfing and traveling. surfs, cooks, rides his moun- tain bike, and is forever searching for the Brook Sarson WRITER/GREYWATER PROFESSIONAL perfect Chanterelle. Brook began H2OME with a mission to create a local water Benjamin Edwards supply and encourage conserWRITER/HURLEY H2O vation through appropriate Benjamin Edwards leads landscaping and simple greywater and the corporate outreach and rainwater techniques. Brook's vision for sustainability efforts as Vice H2OME is to educate people about real President Global Outreach yet simple solutions for the water crisis. for Hurley International. He runs their H2O campaign and works to forge crea- She resides in San Diego with her two tive relationships with non-profit agen- young sons, two cats and five egg-procies and individuals in an effort to help ducing chickens. provide clean water for those in need. Currently partnering with Waves For Water and The Ecology Center, Hurley ABOUT THE ECOLOGY CENTER H2O aims to combat water scarcity and The Ecology Center seeks to bring all enlist others to join the effort. members of the community together in a PHOTOGRAPHER

A Los Angeles native and Harvard graduate, Jessica directs communications and development at The Ecology Cent- er. When she's not there, you'll find her Brad Lancaster at home in San Clemente making artistic WRITER/ PERMACULTURE PROFESSIONAL things, eating beautiful food, and doing Brad runs a permaculture conher part to improve our ecosystems. sulting, design, and education business focused on integrated and sustainable approaches Jeff Davis to landscape design, planning, and livWRITER Jeff is a native of San Juan ing. Living in the dryland environment, Capistrano, California. With rainwater harvesting has long been one of a BA in cultural anthropology his specialties and a passion. Through his from UC Santa Barbara, he re- business and writings, he shares his pasturned to Orange County after teaching sion to live more sustainably. abroad to further explore the relationship between humans and their environment Rob Machado and how to keep it healthy. He manages WRITER/SURFER In addition to being one of marketing and outreach efforts at The the world’s most recognized Ecology Center. surfers, particularly for his Zen-like flow in and out of the water, Rob Machado is a committed environmentalist. In 2004, he established the Rob Machado Foundation to support environmental programs for youth.

solutions-based educational setting to inspire and create a healthy and abundant future for all of Southern California. The Center highlights empowering and cutting-edge environmental perspectives that can be applied to the way we live our lives, making it possible for us to coexist with a thriving environment. ABOUT EVOLVE

An eco-journal produced by The Ecology Center, Evolve explores both local and global perspectives on contemporary ecological issues. Written and supported by a wide network of activists and ecological professionals, the content herein is unlike anything else being produced in Southern California. For comments, feedback, and letters to the staff, email

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Good Water

It runs through the veins of our bodies, communities and our oceans. Water connects us to global climate, human well-being, and our impact on the environment. In the ecological movement, a watershed is a geographic boundary defined by the flow of water. You can see the multi-million year geological process happening right in front of us. When rain falls from the clouds, it flows downhill through canyons, valleys, rivers and creeks, ending in the ocean. This timeless process, the hydrologic cycle, has shaped the earth and—most profoundly—human civilization. For millennia, humans have congregated to water as a conduit for trade, cultivation, and climate. In contemporary times, with the proliferation of industrialization, humans have developed myriad ways to manipulate water. We’ve done just about everything we can to eliminate the natural flows of water. We have built dams and paved over our rivers and creeks. In addition, we have built our communities (Southern California) hundreds of miles away from ample fresh water. If we envision a community with growing gardens and a healthy ocean, now is the time to rebuild our relationship to water, one house and neighborhood at a time.

The good news is that we have the tools to reconnect us to our water resources. Our first step is to become aware that everything we do affects each other. For example, when you harvest rainwater from your roof, you eliminate runoff down the gutter, moving us one step closer to keeping our beaches open during and after rains. (We’ve accepted beach closures due to runoff pollution after rains, and this is not ok. The closest beach to The Ecology Center, Doheny, has the 7th worst water quality in the state of California. Not ok!) Solutions like rainwater harvesting that retrofit our households are simple to accomplish and in turn clean up our watersheds. If each of us did just a few simple daily actions, our watersheds and oceans would be on a pathway to health. Our communities would be, also. Please enjoy this issue of Evolve which celebrates the good water work of The Ecology Center on behalf of Hurley H20. We hope it inspires us to all work on behalf of a healthy watershed.

Evan Marks, Executive Director




Author: J. Loren Butler

Veins of Our Planet

01 From my writing desk in northern Santa Barbara County, I have a pretty good view of Figueroa Mountain. Fig, as it's known locally, is a bit over 4000 feet tall; despite its modest stature, and despite the fact that it sits less than twenty miles from the ocean as the crow flies, it regularly enjoys a crown of snow in the winter. While there's never quite enough to ski—Fig won't soon be mistaken for Aspen—the snow that falls there, and then melts and eventually flows down a

ing floods, acting as travel corridors for a huge variety of plants and animals, serving as filters for our surface water and underground aquifers, and offering indications of the health of the environment as whole, our watersheds have a profound impact on the quality of our lives. And in turn, we human beings play an enormous role in determining the health—and even the very existence—of the watersheds which surround us.

valley, through a creek in my backyard, and eventually on into the Pacific Ocean some 30 miles west of my home, nonetheless plays a critical role in the lives of the plants and animals that make the drainage their home.

This drainage is an example of what is known as a watershed. Basically defined as a land area in which all precipitation which falls there flows to the same place, watersheds receive relatively little attention. After all, it rains in the hills and the water makes its way to the ocean— there's not a lot of complexity involved, not much to consider, is there? Actually, our watersheds, and the myriad natural functions they serve, are fundamental components of our ecosystems. In transporting water (and nutrients, and, sometimes, pollutants), modulat-

Watersheds exist on many scales. While watersheds are sometimes thought of only in the context of vast areas (the Colorado River watershed, for example, drains an area of nearly 250,00 square miles), the concept of a watershed holds for much smaller areas, too. Los Olivos Creek runs through my backyard. It is one of several creeks fed by that snow on Fig, and serves as the watershed for a small valley just north of my home, just one of the several drainages that radiate out from the peak. Los Olivos Creek—that creek behind my house—drains something like 30 square miles, carrying that small watershed's precipitation westward, where it joins the Santa Ynez River downstream from my home. From that confluence,

the river wends its way through miles of riparian habitat along the river, which is sometimes flowing with water in the winter, and often dry in the summer. Any water that makes it to the end of the line finds the ocean at a distant estuary, where the nutrients in the water help support a wide array of sea life. (By the way, one of the most enjoyable, and deeply educational, ways to become familiar with your watershed is to head to the creek or river nearest you, locate its headwaters, and walk or kayak along it until you reach its confluence with the watercourse it feeds. Or even until you reach the ocean. You'll develop a much


greater awareness of the plants and animals that live around you, as well as a more nuanced sense of the landforms in your watershed. Go ahead—find some intrepid friends, or their kids, and give it a try on a warm spring day—you'll be amazed at what you discover!) Just as the Los Olivos is “my creek”, the Santa Ynez, in draining the greater watershed in which I live, is my “home river”; its story is typical of many rivers throughout the state. As the population of Santa Barbara County grew, so did the need for water. As a result, the river was dammed in the 1950s, a period of


WATER rapid dam construction in the American West. This process and policy of more or less indiscriminately damming rivers throughout the region has radically altered ecosystems, both locally and regionally. Dams—and the impacts of their presence—have become such an integral part of life in the state that it is almost impossible now to conceive of a California in which the watersheds are wild, and the rivers flow freely. Of course, this wasn't always the case. While the indigenous peoples of California may have engaged in some dam building prior to European contact, these peoples were primarily huntergatherers, who didn't practice agriculture (or therefore require water for irrigation) at any significant scale. Thus, the first recorded dam in California was built across the San Diego River by Jesuit missionaries in the 1770s. The increase in both population and the number of dams in the state since that first dam was constructed is almost incomprehensible. The population of California in the late 18th Century is estimated at around 500,000; the number of dams, one. Currently, there are about 1100 dams in the state overall, and no fewer than 38 million humans. Plainly stated, these dams were built largely to accommodate the needs of all the people. The water for drinking, water for agricultural irrigation, water for industry, water for showers, water for parks, water for everything, must come from somewhere. While some of California's water is currently piped in from the Colorado River (in effect transferring water from one watershed—the Colorado has historically emptied into the Gulf of California—to another: California's water mostly winds up in the Pacific Ocean), the majority of the state's water comes from a combination of wells—dug deep enough to tap the water in the ancient underground aquifers—and the precipitation which falls on the land. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, receiving as they do many feet of snow every winter, provide the lion's share of this rain—and snow— fall water, but almost every county in the state has one or more reservoirs (otherwise known as dams) for storing rain and snow melt. It is this desire to capture this precipitation—by building dams—that has led to the transformation of our watersheds. Partly due to the fact that until quite recently, the enormous complexity—and


importance—of watersheds was only poorly understood, and partly due to simply needing water for the ever-expanding population of the state, dams have not always been built with the fate of the immediate watershed, and the beings that live in it, as a priority. In the case of the Santa Ynez River, one of the many unforeseen consequences of building a dam was the decimation of the native steelhead trout population. Construction of the dam prevented the river from flowing all the way to the ocean, which in turn made it impossible for the steelhead, which are anadromous (they spend their lives in the ocean but return to their place of birth to spawn), from swimming upstream to lay their eggs. The result has been a 99% decrease in the number of steelhead trout in the Santa Ynez watershed.



This tale illustrates only one of the many ways in which human intervention has wreaked havoc on the delicate, milleniaold ecosystems that comprise our watersheds. Degradation of the environment, outright destruction of habitat, and a decrease in the number of species present are the fates of many watersheds as they are manipulated and dammed. It is these impacts on our watersheds—on our streams, creeks, rivers, oceans, and, finally, on the health of the planet itself—that we might do well to consider carefully as we manage our watersheds, balancing the thirst of the human population for water with the basic elements required of a healthy ecosystem. Though it's mid-winter, we've had a number of warm days of late, and I can see just the faintest dusting of snow remaining from the last storm on Fig as I write this. Sometimes, in my mind's eye, I'll trace the voyage of a drop of water from the summit to the sea as it passes through, and contributes to, my watershed. I'll contemplate the many species that make their homes here—birds, bears, mountain lions, river turtles, bald eagles, steelhead trout, human beings, to say nothing of the extraordinary variety of plant life—and begin to appreciate the very real significance and importance of watersheds for all of us. •

06 01. Spring snow on the south face of Grass Mountain. Precipitation falling here will follow Los Olivos creek to its confluence with the Santa Ynez River, while that falling on the north face of the peak enriches the Sisquoc River watershed. 02. Tadpole larvae adhering to a rock in Los Olivos Creek. Because tadpoles are extremely sensitive to pollution and other factors affecting the integrity of the riverine environment, they serve as an indicator species for the overall health of the watershed as a whole. 03.  Rain drops on the native California lupine in the upper reaches of the Los Olivos Cree watershed.

04. A rain drop on a California live oak tree near the top of the Los Olivos Creek watershed. The journey to the ocean will begin when it falls to the ground. 05. Sycamore flowers in Los Olivos creek, as it wends its way toward the ocean. 06. Native ceanothus shrubs foreground a view the Los Olivos Creek watershed. The creek joins the Santa Ynez River of few miles to the south, and the river in turn meets the ocean just to the right of the hills in the background of the photo.


WATER Author: Jeff Davis

Journey through The Water Shed While the water flowing through our streams, households and neighborhoods makes up our watershed, “The Water Shed” is an interactive, mobile education exhibit. With the help of our friends at Hurley, we offer this unique experience to promote better water stewardship of Southern California. The Water Shed is hitched up weekly and travels to neighboring schools, events, and community festivals. The goal is to invite visitors of all ages to explore where our water comes from, the daily decisions that effect our future supply, and how to use this precious resource better.

We whole-heartedly believe that experience is the best teacher, that’s why The Water Shed is so powerful. Visitors become aware of our local and global water issues by physically pumping their own water into a pitcher, “spending” it how they choose, and pledging to make a difference. Through these experiences, the everyday

actions that make a difference are forever blossoming in their minds. You can experience The Water Shed by scheduling a visit or finding us at a local festival. To give you a taste, journey through The Water Shed experience in the following pictures.













THE WATER SHED PHOTO CAPTIONS 01.  Welcome to The Water Shed. Climb aboard and learn how you can become a better water steward in your community. 11

02. Once opened, we learn a watershed is an area of land where water drains— from the mountains to our local beach. 03. Ready? Grab a pitcher! This will be used to represent your daily water allotment. 04. Harvest from a series of three pumps representing our Southern California water sources: Colorado River, groundwater and rain. 05. Everything we buy, use, and throw-away requires energy, including water. You’ve got to work for it!


06. With a full pitcher, head inside to “spend” your water allotment on a series of daily decisions.

07. Did you know? What we choose to eat, wear, buy, and do everyday all has an effect on our water consumption. 08. You will find the water in things like manufacturing and transportation (indirect) is the biggest water-wasting culprit. 09. Every drop counts! Everyday individual actions have a huge impact on decreasing our water footprint. 10. Choose wisely! Your decisions will effect the water supply of generations to come. 11. Make a pledge! Choose to eat veggie once a week or use a reusable bottle. 12. Have you experienced and pledged The Water Shed? Let us know how you’re doing. If not, schedule a visit! all photos © Scott Sporleder



Sustainability is a Journey

Author: Ben Edwards

Insight into Hurley’s H2O

One product is not the answer. One solution may not be the only way. Sustainability is a journey that promotes new ideas and opportunity. We believe that we all must work together to create real change; it’s how we approach everything we do. For Hurley, it’s about water. Surfers are of water, so naturally, we are for water. We travel the globe; we see the need and are compelled to do our part. One in six people do not have access to clean water, but we believe five in six should help. We each have the power to make a difference. The Hurley H2O program partners with those who actively move the needle and ultimately change the stats. We work to combat water scarcity by acting locally and globally. Our goal is to create a ripple effect that takes us all further. It’s a journey of knowledge. We are honored and humbled to work with our friends at The Ecology Center, who continue to educate and inspire us. They empower people to get involved and do their part for humankind. It all comes down to community, and The Ecology Center brings people together to actively create change. Educating in a fun and interactive environment helps shape thinking and motivates us all to, “be part of the solution.” We learn from them. Ultimately, they inspire us to go further.

last few years, all of our boardshorts have been made from recycled PET (recycled single-use plastic known as Polyethylene Terephthalate). Yep, all of our boardies use this groundbreaking fiber. This simple action has helped recycle the equivalent of over 42 million plastic bottles without sacrificing product performance (five-time winner of SIMA’s “Boardshort of the Year”). Pretty good start, but this is only the beginning. Evan also taught us that a typical t-shirt requires over 600 gallons of water to make. We can change that. As Jon Rose, Waves for Water founder reminds us, “Once your educated, you’re obligated.” Leveraging innovation and our factory partners, we created a way to recycle cotton and water to make a great t-shirt. From over 600 gallons down to one, the result is a fantastic product with minimal environmental impact – the first-of-itskind. But we didn’t stop there; each H2O product contributes 100% of net-profits to clean water programs. We then mobilize with Waves for Water to help bring innovative portable water filters to those in need. Together, we have helped provide access to clean water for the equivalent of nearly 10 million people. Therefore, each H2O product we sell helps people while minimizing waste. To us, this is a big step in the right direction. Are we satisfied? Never, but we are incredibly excited about the future.

TOP: A journey through Indonesia, a source of inspiration for surf and bringing clean water to the masses. BOTTOM: Rob Machado and Ben Edwards talk shop

Evan Marks, Founder of The Ecology Center, teaches us that nearly 80% of all single-use bottles do not get recycled and end up in our oceans. In fact, at the center of the Pacific Ocean, there is a garbage island twice the size of Texas. This is unacceptable. We can fix this. Let’s change behavior overall. At Hurley, we banned all single-use bottles on campus and at our surf events to promote the use of reusable canteens. For the

For Hurley, being environmentally conscious is less about “being green” and more about doing the right thing. It’s about leveraging innovation to tackle the world’s problems. It’s about seeing the world for what it can be. It’s about working with like-minded individuals who want to make a difference. It’s people helping people. It’s about breaking new ground and finding new ways. For us, sustainability is about the journey. •

outside the Hurley H20 clean water mobile exhibition.


Bob Hurley

Microphone for Youth


Rob Machado On My Mind

As told to Jessica Toth

In addition to being one of the world’s most recognized surfers, particularly for his Zen-like flow in and out of the water, Rob Machado is a committed environmentalist. In 2004, he established the Rob Machado Foundation to support environmental programs for youth. He is directly involved in the programs run by the Foundation, often appearing at schools to encourage students’ efforts. Jessica Toth is acting Executive Director of the Rob Machado Foundation. More about their programs is

Long-time friend of The Ecology Center, Hurley founder and chairman Bob Hurley has made his work his play from the beginning. As a shop kid in Huntington Beach, he nimbly moved to

I have visited many parts of the world. We’re very fortunate in this country with the many lifestyle options we have. And, we rarely see the direct impact of choices we make. The products we buy are available shipped and on the shelves, ready for us to purchase.

blank-maker, fin-foiler and shaper before acquiring the license to Billabong USA in 1982. Bob started Hurley, his own clothing brand in 1999, embracing the spirit and creativity of youth. In 2002, Bob seized the opportunity to join forces with Nike, Inc., thus bonding Hurley to arguably the world’s most prominent and innovative athletic apparel brand. From Hurley’s conception to present day, he has been responsible for establishing and maintaining a clear direction

But, maybe it is too easy to buy the coolest products without knowing what went into creating them. Before I buy something, I often wonder:

and vision for the brand, which currently employs approximately 350 people internationally. He serves today as Hurley’s CEO and can be found skating around campus on a daily basis, except when “product-testing” in Indo or Fiji. He currently resides in Newport Beach, which is where Evan Marks caught up with him...

So, why water? In the order of human survival, air is first and water is second. Our human bodies are 80% water. Our brand was born in the water. There are many things a company can stand for. In our case and for our brand, Water felt natural. What's your fondest ocean memory? Usually my fondest ocean memory is my latest surf…always incredibly thankful for that. There have been some incredible moments with dolphins/ whales and family members…amazing sunsets and sunrises over the sea signaling the beginning and the end. Can you say something about Hurley’s H20 program and how you see the work impacting the greater Hurley community, internal and global? H2O has a huge impact on the Hurley community. The effort is led by Ben Edwards and our entire company has rallied around it. Jon Rose is our chosen outreach vehicle through his Waves4Water.Org; he has gotten clean drinking water to over 8 million folks in the past 4 years. The Ecology Center is our community partner and has had

a big local impact in the community and the schools. Rob Machado is a huge advocate of both, and we feel really good about doing the right thing for the right reasons. You've been shaping surfboards since the 70's/80's; how has surfboard design progressed or changed? Surfboards are changing everyday. The imagination of the surfers and the shapers are greatly inspired by the sheer amount of amazing digital content on a daily basis. The speed of high performance innovation—and in many ways the soul and the fun of surfing—is enabled by digital technology. I don't think many could have imagined that 20 years ago. What's next for Hurley? We are pretty consistent…our mission is "microphone for youth" which really means how do we empower the kids to lead us to a better future state? How do we remain relevant and responsible partners in imagining the future?

· Do I need this item? · What is it made of? · How was it made? · How far has it traveled to get here? · What will be discarded from? · How will I use it? · How will I dispose of it?

These questions get at the product lifecycle—the “cradle to grave” life of the product. My goal is to try to select products with the lightest environmental footprint. We each make choices— consciously or subconsciously. But, I think we have a responsibility to consider these questions and make the best choices we can. The industry where my choices have the most impact is surfing. So, here I take it as my personal responsibility to ask what can we do to make each product more environmentallyfriendly. Rob Machado seated in one of the student classrooms benefited by his foundation.

At every opportunity, I challenge my sponsors to produce the most sustainable products possible. My vision is for surfers everywhere—professional and recreational—to expect “100% environmentally-friendly” products. I don’t know what these products and features look like exactly, but I’m optimistic we’ll get there. I’m honored to be in a position where my opinion is heard. As consumers together, we can ask for sustainablysourced materials, minimal packaging, and low-impact use products. Brands have many pressures, like performance, materials sourcing, cost and pricing, marketing, packaging, transportation, and equipment life. As customers add sustainability to their expectations of individual products, we can force the overall transition to product sustainability in the surf industry and beyond. •


Local Color

Author: Kristin Morrison

A Forager’s Exploration of the San Clemente Watershed One spring afternoon, as I slid down a muddy hill precariously reaching for a highlighter-yellow Oxalis flower in front of me, I heard a woman shouting across the ravine to me, “if you pick them, they don't grow back!” I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t that like most living things in nature? They have their season.” Little did she know that my goal was to protect our watershed, turning “invasive” flowers into beautifully dyed textiles. My thought that day was in reference to a couple of things: the fact that Oxalis pes-caprae, or “Sourgrass,” is an invasive plant to Southern California (native to South Africa), and, secondly, that it happens to be a very unique dye plant. In Southern California, our environments are full of non-native, or invasive plants. Invasive species, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are 01 “…introduced species… [brought from other countries and ecosystems].” These plants most often are deposited by birds, As a dyer, and one who likes to work other animals, and also by humans. closely with the land, it thrills me to have all sorts of plant species within To protect and help build an abundant arms reach here in Southern California. ecosystem, we certainly should be plant- Many of the dye plants I forage happen ing native flora that helps to combat to be found in our local watershed. A invasive species. In addition, there is a watershed is the area of land where all of way for some of us to give these invasive the water that is under it or drains off of plants a purpose. it goes into the same place (EPA, 2010). In the case of San Clemente, San Juan, Dana Point, and other beach towns, our ———————— local watersheds lead to the ocean. RESTORING OUR WATERSHED, FORAGING WITH A PURPOSE ————————

I am a dyer and a forager; I find practical and creative use for all of the plants surrounding us, be they native or invasive. I transmute plants into dyes and dyeinks for processes as diverse as submersion dyes and prints. I also use the colors I process for various other techniques such as Shibori, an ancient resist dye technique that creates beautiful patterns I find fittingly reminiscent of the natural world. My creative self says, “Lets make use of these beautiful emigrant species,” and for what better purpose than for alchemizing them into color.


BCE in China (Adrosko, 1971). In Pakistan and nearby regions, textiles dating back to 2,500 BCE have been excavated with red dye intact from Rubia tinctoria or “Madder Root” (Richards and Tyrl, 2005), still commonly used today. Indigo, or Indigofera tinctoria, is said to have originated in India, and subsequently spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas (Balfour, 2006). Closely-related chemically is “Tyrian Purple”, the beautiful purple secretion from a Mediterranean shell fish that was prized by the Romans, Byzantine and Phoenician peoples (Balfour, 2006) and associated with royalty. Nearly every documented human civilization has made use of local plants for medicine, paper, fabric, and yes, dyes.

In addition to Oxalis, which produces the aforementioned highlighter-like yellow dye, there are many suitable dye plants found in the watershed zone. Prickly Pear Cactus fruit or “Tuna,” which is indigenous to the US, yields a stunning yet understated tangerine color. Eucalyptus leaves, indigenous Many of the dye plants I find in our wa- to Australia and New Zealand, can protershed zones, minus a few, happen to duce the softest yellow and also a sunset be invasive, like Oxalis. Naturalists and pink. Fennel, native to Southern Europe, botanists may argue that invasive spe- yields a spectrum from duckling yellow cies can be a real problem, “...due to their to mint green. All of these colors build lack of natural enemies, [they] can lead a most stunning color palette when preto outbreak populations” (EPA 2010). sented together, and I think not surprisIndeed, we must be hyper-conscientious ingly because they are all found in the Although natural dyes were being used of our interactions with nature and take same habitat. up until the mid 19th century in the needed precaution, especially when United States, English scientist William wild-crafting. In my case, where I for- Although many of these plants are Perkin successfully created the first docage—one of the many drainages in the not native to our ecosystem, they have umented synthetic—a mauve dye—in San Clemente Creek Watershed—is also found a home in my process. With care- his laboratory in 1856 (Adrosko, 1971). nearby the place where the plant mate- ful wild crafting, their removal as inva- Sadly, this invention, combined with rial returns when I dispose of the dye-pot sives offers a most beautiful purpose as industrialization, overthrew most tradiand dye materials. So thereby, I close the dye plants. Dye plants have been cele- tional methods, and practices of natucycle purposefully and respectfully. brated and traded from as early as 3,000 ral dyeing ground to a halt. Even more

WATER 11 profound, the synthetic dyes that replaced plant dyes were some of the most harmful substances running into our watersheds—and some still are. (Due to this, many industries now are working with new technology, including “air washing” and lasers to to help deter dye runoff.)

embrace the delicate balance of the contextual habitat. This means harvesting just enough for a small batch, recycling the dye water, and ultimately keeping away from any toxic mordants (aka, tin, chromium, copper and using any high quantities). Mordants—additives that help fix the dyes onto fibers—are a necessary part ———————— of the dye process, but I am RESTORING OUR careful to use mordants that WATERSHEDS, ILLUMINATare “kitchen” or “laundry safe”. ING NATURE’S BOUNTY Some safe examples include ———————— vinegar, black tea, pickling Hence, my longstanding court- alum, soda ash, lemon juice ship with plant dyes. I love and very small amounts of iron them for what they represent salts. Once the color in the dye to me, the kingdom Plantae, bath is used up, or “exhausted”, which supports all of life. For the goal is that the leftover dye me, in contrast to these seem- water and dye material can be ingly-dated practices, it is a way disposed near where the plant to newly connect with the land material was found—in this and celebrate, illuminating our case, my garden nearby where dependence on nature, instead it was foraged. of exploiting its resources. There is nothing quite like the Therefore, when foraging, I holistic experience of foragkeep these words always in ing materials, simmering them mind: “Scale, give-back, grati- down to color, and then diptude.” Though natural, even ping, soaking, twisting and colsome plant dyes can be toxic if oring virgin fibers—it is truly used in mass quantity. When magical!—especially when the I gather enough sour grass for process is analogous to natural a dye pot, it is imperative to cycles.

Recalling that spring day when ever medium I choose, natural 04. The crisp morning light falls I was harvesting various plants colors never disappoint. They across the San Clemente including Oxalis, Fennel, and always buzz and undulate harCreek watershed as foraging begins. Eucalyptus for a commissioned moniously together, because, project by LA-based fash- well, they were designed by 05. W ild Fennel is prolific in this ion label THVM, I distinctly nature to do so. area and yields a dye specrecall thinking that the shouttrum from duckling yellow to ing woman did not under- My process is about interactmint green. stand what I was doing. She ing with and connecting to the did not see the vision behind natural world and, ultimately, 06. S ourgrass heats with other ingredients to create a my muddy pants and intent to finding a deeper understanding highlighter-yellow dye. gather just enough bright yel- of how nature supports human low flowers for the dye-pot. I life. Humans often have the 07. Eucalyptus leaves surprise knew the flowers would cycle habit of taking rather than givwhen they yield a sunset pink hue. into the next season very soon, ing. Natural dyeing is a way for and I wanted to make sure I me to reinvigorate a connection 08. Fennel blossom, elderberry, could capture their radiance. to the natural world and, in my and oxalis dyes fermenting That neighbor could not see own small way, give back by to produce the desired color. how I intended to preserve a illuminating its beauty through moment in time through care- art. More aptly, the journey of ful and thoughtful gathering. natural dyeing is about hon- REFERENCES: oring the resplendent Plantae Adrosko, R. 1971. Natural Dyes Sourcing dye plants in the local kingdom that gives us life. • and Home Dyeing. New York: environment is a joy. Gaining Dover. Balfour, J. 2006. Indigo. knowledge about their extractLondon: Archetype Publications 01. F  abric in dye-process with able color, place in nature, Ltd. local Scabiosa atropurpumedicinal uses, and origin is all rea, commonly known as part of the journey. CelebratRichards, L. and Tyrl, R.J., 2005. “Pincushion” blossoms and eucalyptus leaves. ing this holistic cycle is what Dyes from American Native I intend to express in my artwork. Although I have been 02. Kristin Morrison leading a Plants: A Practical Guide. Oregon: workshop on fabric dying commissioned for a variety of Timber Press. with natural plants. projects—as diverse as dyeing United States Environmental for fashion labels, weaving with 03. Oxalis, or “sourgrass”, Protection Agency in bloom. naturally dyed yarns to surface design for interiors—which-









15 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR WATERSHED We are all responsible for the health of our shared watershed. With your help, the vision of a clean watershed, alive with plant and animal diversity and an abundance of clean water, is within reach. By designing and utilizing new systems and habits that mimic nature and use water wisely, we can create a healthy ecosystem. To inspire you, here are 15 ways to take action!



Protecting your watershed is easy with every flush! The motto “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” isn’t for everyone, but displacing your toilet’s tank water definitely is. By displacing your toilet’s tank water, you save ¼ gallon with every flush. Simply fill a used bottle with sand, or grab a brick and place it in your toilet’s tank. Easy water savings in the tank!



Your bathroom faucet uses 2 gallons of water EVERY MINUTE! Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving your stache and save 8 gallons per day. Less water down the drain = less pollution in the ocean.



Every 20 oz. packaged water uses 6 gallons of water in order to manufacture and move that bottle into your hands. Going reusable saves that water and puts less plastic particles floating in the line-up.





Next laundry day—make it count. Not only does one load of laundry use up to 40 gallons, the use of traditional, phosphate-filled laundry de tergents pollutes our watershed. Protect your watershed by washing only full loads with biodegradable soaps.


Conserve water and reduce 17 gallons/minute of urban chemical runoff by skipping the at-home wash and going commercial instead. Commercial car washes are required to use on-site water recycling, filtration and conservation techniques— keeping your ride, and your beach, clean.


EAT VEGGIE INSTEAD OF MEAT ONCE A WEEK It takes nearly 650 gallons of water to raise, process, and transport the meat for just one burger. Compare that meal to a veggie one—requiring around 200 gallons. Another upside is reducing the animal and chemical pollution of meat production, which ends up in our watershed and eventually, the ocean.



GRAB A BUCKET! Step one—grab a bucket. Step two—Use the bucket to save water. Fill it in the shower while the water is heating up, or under the sink while you wash dishes and/or veggies. Step three—Use that water that would have been otherwise wasted to water your garden or rinse out your wetsuit. Every time you fill your bucket, you save 5 gallons from going down the drain, so grab a bucket and put good water to work!




Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators reduce water consumption by as much as 50% by mixing air into the water stream, without sacrificing water pressure. Updating your fixtures will save money and water—an easy win-win for us and our watershed.

Become a container gardener and grow food anywhere! Say goodbye to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that pollute our watersheds when you grow your own organic, seasonal veggies.





By shopping at farmers markets you support your local farmer and eat fresh, nutrient-dense food while relieving the stress of pollution and consumption that the industrial agricultural system puts on our watershed. Find the market in your neighborhood and get cooking!

It takes more than 600 gallons to grow, process, dye, package, and transport a conventional cotton t-shirt. Purchase any H2O regenerative cotton tee and support the future of sustainable textiles while supporting community water educational programs at The Ecology Center.





When every drop counts, why let good water go to waste? With a rain barrel, you can easily capture the rain that falls on your roof. It adds up fast—1” of rain yields 62 gallons per every 100 sq ft of roof space (average roof size for an Orange County home is 3,000 sq ft)! Use it to water your garden, wash clothes, flush the toilet or rinse your wetsuit. Harvesting the rain also reduces harmful run-off that would otherwise drain to the ocean.




The average Southern California lawn drinks 750 gallons/week to stay healthy. Cut that number in half by replacing it with native and/or drought tolerant plants and attract local wildlife and pollinators. Nixing your lawn will save water, reduce runoff, and eliminate the need for pesticides and weed killing chemicals that end up polluting our watershed.


Did you know you can retrofit your laundry to recycle greywater? Get this—your washing machine comes equipped with a pump that discharges greywater into an accessible standpipe. You can easily extend this pipe outside into a barrel and use it to water your garden!


Connect to your first love and celebrate your efforts in protecting our watershed by going surfing every day. Keep an eye on the conditions of your sacred spot and encourage others to protect it too!


Waves for Water

Jon Rose, clean water activist What are you most optimistic about in tackling today's water / global disaster challenges? I’m most optimistic in that dirty water is a problem but it’s absolutely solvable. We have immediate and readily available solutions, versus diseases like cancer or HIV. Clean water is entirely possible for everyone and it’s within our reach. There is theoretically no reason why anyone should ever die from lack of clean water. Solutions exist. It’s really a matter of mobilization and getting the solutions to people in need. I believe the water crisis can be solved in our lifetime. About




Waves for Water works on the front-line to provide clean water to communities in need around the world. They work with world leaders and strategic partners who take a “no-nonsense” attitude toward making global change. Waves for Water is a non-profit organization founded by Jon Rose and supported by Hurley International. Hurley caught up with Jon in his work after hurricane Sandy...

Tell us about your current mission? Right now, we are focused on the Hurricane Sandy relief initiative. I took a leap of faith and went off our primary focus of providing access to clean water concepts and chose to leverage the organization’s experience in disaster relief. Our objective this time, as a whole, was to create a full and comprehensive relief effort. I’ve been in many disaster areas before, like Haiti and Japan but this was something different. When it hit, we immediately rallied the surf community in the coastal towns because they were hit the hardest. We quickly mobilized to create supply distribution, food programs, debris removal,

home & small business restorations, and monetary support through grants for the rebuilding effort. It’s been a full-fledged program designed to create real, long-term impact. In the last four months, we’ve helped distribute over $5 million worth of goods, provided 30,000 hot meals in Rockaway, gave 30 grants to families, and helped to rebuild over 20 houses, small businesses or places like the Boys and Girls Clubs. The goal is to get the people back on their feet. We are getting there. What's the most inspiring story you've seen post-Sandy? For me, it’s always the real human stories. During Sandy for example, it was Pat Conlon. He and his wife have lived there for decades and are in their late 70's. When Sandy hit, Pat lost his power but went downstairs to see what was happening. He went to step down off the stairs immediately realizing he couldn’t find the floor and was fully submerged in water. So, you had this 79-year-old guy needing to swim around in the dark trying to locate his wife. And then, he heard the neighbors crying for help. After

bringing his wife to safety, he then swam to neighbor’s place to bring them all their bathhouse, up some spiral stairs and wait out the storm -- all soaking wet and in the dark. I’m always inspired by the human condition. When we need to be, we are really uniquely courageous and creative. I’ve also seen those at their wits’ end when multiple hardships happen simultaneously. Storm hits, you’re in the bad place, and something else happens, like a heart attack or a job loss. That inspires me to mitigate the situational circumstances and help when they need it the most. In Lavallette, a local staple of the community, Dot Bugbee, saw her family’s bungalow destroyed. She’s this 25-year-old bubbly sweet young woman who gives surf lessons and volunteers at surf camps. She’s the main caretaker of her family’s bungalow. The place gets completely totaled. Afterwards, she and her dad were in the house cleaning up and then suddenly, her dad died of a heart attack. It’s awful and she’s in this bad state, but she had to move on and she did. I’m inspired to

help provide an energy shift to support and pull people back into the light. There are lots of stories like that. Humans are incredibly adaptable and resilient. How has the community come together to re-build post-Sandy? You see people rise to the occasion and not the people you would expect. Individuals during times in need are compelled to do the right thing. It’s in their DNA. We are wired to do the right things and help. In Long Beach Island, NJ, surfers have really taken on the relief effort—stuff like demolition, community volunteering, supply distribution, and rebuilding. And, they are just a bunch of surfers. But now, we see municipal organizations coming to them and asking them what to do. But, it makes sense to me, because surfers are extremely adaptable creatures. They have a sense of community and the ocean. They surf together all the time and therefore can easily act like an organization and turn around to lead their community. That’s what I see, these little pockets of unsung heroes.

What can we/Californians do to support W4W? Become a Clean Water Courier. That’s our hands-on, do-ityourself approach to empowering travelers to help people in need. If you are going on a trip, plug this thing (filters) into it. It’s easy to make a difference. Basically, go to our site (www. to activate a fundraiser and purchase the water filters. Then, bring the filters with you next time you travel and give to those in need. Instead of dropping everything to save the world, to us, it’s a matter of doing what you love to do and then helping people along the way. If you can’t go, find someone else who can and is willing to do it. But you can also hop on our site and donate directly to any of our internal projects and become your own activist. • 01. Jon Rose illustrates water filters that take dirty, cloudy water and transform it into clean, potable water for all.

02. Many hands work together to experience clean, filtered water—some for the very first time.


Hydration Nation

Author: Ben Edwards

One School, One Country, One Planet

When was the last time you used a drinking fountain? Seriously. When? High school? Well, those fountains in high schools haven’t been used in years. Why? It’s no secret, but they have become “less than desirable” over the years due to corrosion and abuse. But, what if we could replace those tired fountains with innovative water bottle filling stations and encourage use of reusable bottles?

That’s what occurred to surfing icon and humanitarian Rob Machado recently as he visited his former high school in Encinitas. “Instead of drinking from fountains, today’s students are bringing single-use plastic bottles of water and then just throwing them away when finished. Not an ideal situation.” Rob states, “It’s about time we change that.” Through the Rob Machado Foundation and Hurley H2O an idea was born—Hydration Nation. “Basically,” explains Rob, “we come into schools, hold an awareness assembly and install these water bottle filling stations. Then, kids can fill up their reusable bottles with clean water, and save lives in the process.” How, you ask? Rob continues, “The guys at Hurley help provide the stainless steel canteens, and kids sell them to raise money to fund a water relief mission for a sponsored country. Pretty simple, really. One school, one country, one planet.”

Over the last few years, Rob has worked with friend and former professional surfer, Jon Rose, founder of Waves for Water to provide clean water solutions at a global level in places like Haiti and Indonesia. Rob’s recent trip to Indonesia helped provide clean water solutions for CNN’s Hero of the Year Dr. Robyn Lim of the Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) health clin-

High school activists rally to reduce plastic and provide water to those without access.

ics, which offer free prenatal care, birthing services, and medical aid to those in need.

a mission to a village in need. We also look forward to catching a few waves in the process.”

Hydration Nation launched in October 2012 at Rob’s old stomping ground of San Dieguito Academy (SDA). The event included the creation of an H2O club and the installation of a “hydration station.” These stations are uniquelydesigned water fountains, created by Global Tap and found in locations like San Francisco airport, California Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the Hurley H2O booth at surf events.

Two other high schools, Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar, have already adopted the program, and a few other schools are in the queue. To sign up for the program, kids are encouraged to create a video showing why Hydration Nation should come to their school and also submit a simple application. The plan is to have six schools become part of the campaign each year, and grow that number over time. •

SDA student, Nicolas Poalillo, established the H2O club on campus to create water awareness and action throughout the year. “It’s been a hit,” says Poalillo. “It was great having Rob on campus and really involved with the program. Students are now using the fountains, and we already have seen a reduction in plastic water bottles.” So far, Nico’s club has 60 members who regularly meet and have raised enough funds for 10 water filters for their host nation, Nicaragua. Poalillo continues, “We look forward to working with Rob and team to organize

For more information on how to bring Hydration Nation to your area, please visit: or

01. Students raise awareness and reduce plastic bottle use through Hydration Nation. 02. Rob Machado and Hydration Nation students rally at their local school to reduce waste and provide water to those in need.


Abundant Skies

Author: Brad Lancaster

8 Principles for Successful Rainwater Harvesting


My interest in water harvesting arose from a desire both to reduce my cost of living and to be part of the solution rather than the problem in my desert city of Tucson, Arizona (12 inches or 304 mm of average annual rainfall). One of Tucson’s biggest problems is its mismanagement of water resources, pulling more each year from the water table than nature can replace. This is a practice that has dried out the Santa Cruz river, killed countless springs and wells, and

barren urban lot have transformed it into an oasis in the desert, with summer temperatures ranging an average ten degrees lower than our neighbors’. Our land produces 15-25% of our food, which includes organic, homegrown fruits, nuts, vegetables, eggs, honey, and mesquite flour grown solely with rainwater and greywater (reclaimed household wash-water.) Our utility bills have been dropping steadily since we moved in and now run an average $20 per month.

severely depleted available groundwater resources.

Living in the desert has put a special emphasis on water harvesting for me, but it’s a valuable strategy for non-desert environments, too. Rainwater harvesting is effective for reducing or preventing erosion and downstream flooding while improving stormwater quality. Thus, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington (36 inches or 914 mm of average annual rainfall) have embraced water harvesting to protect salmon populations, and Maryland (39-45 inches or 990-1,143 mm of average annual rainfall) is doing the same to protect the Chesapeake Bay. And anywhere in the world, water harvesting is a smart strategy for helping to recharge groundwater tables, springs, wells, and rivers. Back in 1994, my brother Rodd was also interested in water-harvesting, but as long as we were both renting, all we could do was read up on the subject. At the time, we were both self-employed, making what the government considers poverty wages. No bank would touch us. On our own, neither of us could afford to purchase a home, but together, it was feasible. (It helped that the house we wound up purchasing was about to be condemned.) We did 95% of the renovation work ourselves and used mainly salvaged materials. Twelve years later, our property value has shot through the roof. The integrated water- harvesting techniques Rodd and I learned and implemented on this once-

In the course of creating our sustainable oasis here in Tucson, Rodd and I arrived at eight basic principles that anyone can use to implement a successful rainwater-harvesting strategy of their own. PRINCIPLE #1:

Begin with long and thoughtful observationt. Right after we bought the house, monsoon rains poured from the sky. Rodd and I got acquainted with where runoff pooled against the house and how the bulk of the rain ran off our site into the street. We mapped these observations, and others, including noise, headlights, and pollution from the street; where we wanted privacy; where we needed shade; and where we needed to enhance winter solar exposure. Wherever you direct rainwater in your landscape, you will be nurturing plant life, so take the time to ensure this vegetation is part of your overall plan. Next, calculate the rainwater resources available within your site’s “watershed.” For us, that area included not only the 12 inches (304 mm) of annual rainfall on our roof and 1/8th of an acre (0.05 ha) property, but the 20-foot (6 m) wide public right-of-way adjoining our property, the section of street draining past the right-of-way, and the runoff from our neighbor’s roof. (See Table, right) This totaled about 104,600 gallons

(397,000 liters) of rainwater in an average year! PRINCIPLE #2:

Start harvesting rain at the top of your watershed, then work your way down. (In most cases, the top of your watershed means the roof of your house.)

Our leaky asphalt roof was a mess, so we removed it and installed 26-gauge galvanized steel metal roofing instead, which harvests rainwater in a potable form. However, as long as you’re only harvesting rainwater for use in landscape irrigation, this isn’t a necessary step. (Rainwater harvested off a conventional asphalt roof can also be made safe for consumption with the installation of an appropriate water filtration system.) Take a look at your roof. Where do the gutters drain? Where is rainfall currently being directed? This is where you should begin with mulched water-harvesting basins and plantings (at least 10 feet or 3 m from the building’s foundation.) On our property, just under half of the roof runoff is directed to earthworks and fruit trees north of the house. The rest is directed to an above-ground cistern west of the garden along our property boundary on top of a 2-foot (60 cm) high earthen platform. Our cistern is a custom-modified new ferro-cement septic tank, but a number of good alternatives exist. (See, Choosing a Tank.) We selected the location of our cistern to provide multiple functions. By placing it on the western boundary of our yard to shade out the hot ABOVE: Traditional home with direct-to-storm-drain runoff conditions vs. Water harvesting home with simple catchments and water diversions.

WATER 17 afternoon sun, it creates a beneficial microclimate for our garden. By acting as part of the property line, it provides a privacy screen from a peering neighbor. And by placing the cistern on an elevated platform, the system utilizes gravity in circulating water from the roof ’s gutter to the tank, and from the tank to the garden. Whatever type of cistern you choose, having your garden located nearby will keep hose length to a minimum (25 feet or 7.5 m ideal) With gravity-fed systems, this will reduce water-pressure loss to surface-friction inside the hose and make watering with rainwater a convenience. (Your plants will love it, too!) PRINCIPLE #3:

Always plan an overflow route, and manage overflow as a resource Eventually, all water-harvesting systems will meet a storm that exceeds their capacity, so don’t get taken by surprise. All rainwater harvesting structures should be managed in such a way that the system can overflow in a beneficial, rather than destructive way. In that spirit, overflow from our backyard cistern is directed via a 4-inch (100-mm) diameter overflow pipe to a series of adjoining mulched basins that passively irrigate a citrus tree and our garden. In addition, all of our sunken earthworks have an overflow “spillway.” Typically, one earthwork overflows to another and another, until all are full and then, if needed, the lowest earthwork can overflow to a natural drainage – or, in a typical urban context, the street.

Your goal should be to harvest the rain, but never get flooded by it. This is key. PRINCIPLE #4:

Start with small and simple strategies that harvest the rain as close aspossible to where it falls. When people think of rainwater harvesting, usually it’s cisterns and tanks that spring to mind. But the water collected off your roof is typically much less than what’s actually falling on your property. Simple water-harvesting earthworks, such as basins, terraces, contour berms, and check dams will harvest the rain where it falls, on the land. The water-harvesting earthworks Rodd and I created collect the vast majority of our rain. We dug level-bottomed basins and deeply mulched them (about 4 inches) in order to infiltrate rainfall and runoff throughout our watershed—once again starting at the highest points of the yard and working down. Overflow water was directed from the upper basins to the lower basins, which brings us to principle number five. PRINCIPLE #5:

Spread, slow and infiltrate the flow of water into the soil. Cisterns along with mulched and vegetated earthworks with overflow routes will effectively transform your erosive runoff during heavy rainfall into a calm, productive resource while reducing water loss to evaporation and downstream flooding. Raised pathways and gathering areas are also a great strategy for spreading water through the landscape. This pattern of “high and dry” regions that drain to adjoining basins kept “sunken and moist” will help to define those areas through vegetation while spreading and sinking the flow of water. (This also helps keep ice off walkways and driveways in colder regions.) At our place, we used earthworks to redirect the runoff that used to pool against our house to planting areas 10 feet (3 m) or more away from the building’s foundation.



Maximize living and organic groundcover. All your basins and other water-harvesting earthworks should be well mulched and planted. This creates a “living sponge” effect that will utilize the harvested water to create food and beauty in your surrounding landscape while steadily improving the soil’s ability to infiltrate and hold water due to the vast network of growing roots and benefical microorganisms. Traditional sidewalk/parkway with direct-to-stormdrain runoff vs. Innovative water catchment system using basins and curb cuts.

Groundcover is equally important in helping to ensure that, in your enthusiasm for harvesting rainwater, you

don’t wind up creating a haven for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need three days of standing water to transform from eggs to adults. Water-harvesting earthworks allowing water to infiltrate below the surface of the soil (typically within one hour) where it won’t be lost to evaporation. Take a hike in the natural unmanaged areas near your home to determine what native vegetation would be best to plant within or beside your earthworks. Out in the wild, you’ll notice which plants grow naturally in depressions – they can be planted within your basins. Wild plants preferring better drainage can be planted beside, but not within earthworks. Blue palo verdes, velvet mesquite, chuparosa, oreganillo, and desert lavender are a few of the native plants found along the ephemeral washes in our area of Tucson that we plant within our earthworks. CONTINUED ON PAGE 22

CHOOSING A CISTERN Our cistern has a 1,200-gallon (4,560 liter) capacity. We selected this size after calculating the average annual roof runoff, assessing our water needs, and determining the resources we wanted to commit to the system. We opted for a precast concrete septic tank for a number of reasons, but primarily because it was affordable as well as a workable size and shape for our space (5 foot wide, 6 feet tall, 10 feet long). Our septic tank was custom-made for use as a cistern, and further reinforced for above-ground installation. The cost back in 1996 was $600, which included delivery and placement. It's been working great ever since. Other options for pre-manufactured cisterns include light-proof dark green or black polyurethane plastic, corrugated metal, and fiberglass. See for options and look in the yellow pages under tanks for local suppliers. (You can also order one through Tools For Change at The Ecology Center.) CALCULATING YOUR RAINWATER RESOURCES To calculate the volume of rain falling in an average year on a specific surface such as your roof, yard, or neighborhood, use the following calculation: CATCHMENT AREA (IN SQUARE FEET) x AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL (IN FEET) x 7.48 (TO CONVERT CUBIC FEET TO GALLONS) = TOTAL GALLONS OF RAINWATER FALLING ON THAT CATCHMENT IN AN AVERAGE YEAR




Do It Yourself

Author: Jessica Watkins The DIY movement is about more than saving money or being hip.

Why Individual Action Matters At The Ecology Center, skill-building is at the core of all we do. We see great attendance at Backyard Skills lectures and workshops at our site on myriad topics including tree care, non-toxic household cleaners, food preserving, container gardening, composting, greywater systems, rainwater collection, beekeeping, lawn remediation, native plantings and edible gardens, amongst many others. We ask people to pledge simple actions, apply their knowledge, and share their experience. But, why build skills? We advocate do-it-yourself because it equips and empowers people to make responsible ecological changes at the individual level. The individual actions that we teach and promote come together and reinforce a distinctly urgent and critical cultural movement toward ecological repair and sustainability. The choices we make with regard to our most basic needs—food, water, waste, energy, and shelter—have complex impacts on our health, our communities, and the environment. The basis of consumer culture isolates the person from the impact of their purchasing choices, allowing vast ignorance on the household's overall ecological footprint from direct and indirect consumer consumption. For instance, the simple act of building and growing your own garden has obvious individual benefits of fresh, flavorful, nutritious unique food opportunities. But, it also benefits us all by eliminating

industrial agro-chemicals, long-distance transportation miles, and the degradation of our watershed. Many don’t realize that the largest contributor to world-wide ocean pollution is agricultural run-off (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2013). Imagine the impact if we all grew our own! The process of doing something yourself has inarguable ecological benefits, but it also has social benefits as well. Learning and honing a new skill brings confidence, a sense of fulfillment and independence, and an ability to help others. It fights the current trend of disposable convenience by fostering appreciation for the ingredients and work that yield a quality result. Enabling active DIY-ers creates a skills-sharing community network where, with the support of The Ecology Center, neighbors can invite neighbors to come learn skills in home or community center settings, taking what they learned at The Ecology Center and paying it forward. We envision a vibrant, expanding network of ecological skills-sharing that stokes the fire of the growing sustainability movement. Most importantly, we hope you are a part of it. • Backyard Skills programs at The Ecology Center are supported in part through the generosity of Hurley H2O, The Boeing Company, SDG&E, and the Center for Living Peace.

Participants of all ages get hands-on at a Backyard Skills workshop building veggie boxes.

Sustainabili-tee As Coco Chanel famously said, “Fashion has

Can we make better, more environmentally

two purposes: comfort and love.” In Califor-

responsible products? Luckily there are peo-

nia, nothing captures this feeling more so

ple and companies out there whose answer

than the t-shirt. From a favorite concert shirt

to that question is “yes” and are already

to the classic white variety, rarely does a

readily working tirelessly making this goal

clothing item elicit such a deep-rooted, emo-

a reality. We recently asked Brett Bjorkman,

tional connection. But, unfortunately for us

Director of Sustainable Business and Inno-

and for our clean, crisp t-shirt, our favorite

vation at Hurley, to tell us about steps that

fashion staple has a dirty little secret—it

Hurley is taking in regards to sustainability.

takes over 650 gallons of water to make just one. At The Ecology Center, we do a lot of work in “water-footprint” awareness. We feel it’s important to know and understand what it takes to make the products we use (and hopefully re-use). Water footprint awareness is growing and is driving consumers to ask tough questions to the companies who manufacture items, such as our favorite t-shirts, and the many of the other items we love.

TEC: What steps is Hurley taking to create more environmentally responsible products? BB: At Hurley, we constantly ask ourselves, “how can we leverage current and future innovation to make a better product?” For us, it is about water. Water is the most important compound in the world and we are activating programs to be as mindful as we can. We then look to improve our choices in trims and fabrics, which are

tested in accordance with the Nike RSL (Restricted Substance List) and meet the strictest global standards for the presence of chemicals in our products. We also try to eliminate waste and recycle whatever we can. TEC: Hurley produces millions of t-shirts every year. Tell us about the program you are working on to make these t-shirts more water and environmentally friendly. BB: “The cotton textile industry accounts for approximately 3% of all the water used worldwide each year. An estimated 40% of cotton that is grown is wasted between its harvest in

the cotton field and the manufacturing a finished garment, equaling billions of pounds of cotton fiber, which is disposed of by spinning mills, weavers and fabric manufacturers every year. This pre-consumer waste typically goes directly into landfills and contributes to the formation of leachate as it decomposes, which has the potential to contaminate both surface and groundwater sources. Hurley is working with its new manufacturers to regenerate this waste into new yarn, which can be used for creating our Hurley products. The H2O “blank” (a term for a t-shirt before any treatments) has a footprint of 1% of a typical t-shirt and helps conserve landfill use and reduce the amount of land, water, energy and pesticides used for growing organic or traditional cotton.” TEC: What’s next? BB: “We are going to continue to test and work with our manufacturer to ensure we are putting the most enviCONTINUED ON PAGE 22


Greywater / A Simple and Effective

Author: Brook Sarson

Resource for Water Starved Southern California Greywater is water that comes from showers, sinks, and laundry before it combines with toilet water. Kitchen sink water is blackwater in California. Many people are nervous about using greywater for fear of contamination and the ick-factor. Greywater use is not only common but legal and encouraged by public utilities all over Arizona, New Mexico, Australia, and many other parts of the world. There are over a million users in California alone, and no instance of anyone getting sick from greywater use. A UCLA report, titled "Graywater: A Potential Source of Water," estimated that if 10% of Southern Californians implemented graywater systems for their laundry, showers, dishwashers and faucets, "the potable water savings would be equivalent to, or larger than, the capacity of a modern, large seawater desalination plant such as those proposed for California." That’s exciting news for taxpayers! By designing the landscape to capture this slightly used water in the soil, we actually are treating our wastewater more effectively than our sewage treatment plants with much less impact on our local infrastructure. Mulch basins and plants provide high levels of microbial activity which bioremediate any solids or pathogens in the water. This compared to high volumes of water with added solids and pathogens from toilets spilling out directly into our waterways? Greywater regulations changed in California in 2009 to allow simple Laundry-to-Landscape systems with no permit required, and simple shower systems with specific requirements and a permit. A simple Laundry greywater system can cost as little as $150 in parts if you do it yourself or as little as $400 if you have a professional install it. With the potential for producing a couple thousands of gallons of nutrient rich reused water, this is a great investment! Shower systems can be more complex, especially if you are on a slab, or your bathroom is upstairs. You may have to hire a plumber well versed in greywater to install your 3-way valve and a landscaper well versed in water conservation, or a water harvesting professional. The simplest shower greywater systems may cost as little as $600-$800 depending on a multitude of factors including if you have a crawlspace, what kind of slope you have in your yard, how much water is being managed. Many people think of storing greywater and using it in existing irrigation systems, but this is a far more expensive and complex setup than most people need, involving pumps and filters. A gravity fed system is efficient and cost effective. Most anyone can implement a Laundry greywater system if your laundry room is on an outside wall, or in an

outside building. By adding a three-way diverter valve to your washing machine hose, you can control whether to send your laundry water out to your yard or down to the sewer. This is important for instances where you may use bleach or have some other toxic chemicals in your laundry or it has been raining substantially and your yard is saturated, for example. By keeping the water in a 1� line, you keep pressure from your washing machine pump, allowing you to take the water slightly uphill or over longer sections of garden, and do not constrict the pump flow causing burn out. From here, you can simply pop a hole in your outside wall and bury your line out to your trees or shrubs. You can put in as many branches as you need, adding ball valves to control the flow to specific locations. It is important to calculate your water budget, which is affected by what kind of machine you have (10-50 gallons) and how many loads a week you do. Then you can take into account what landscaping you are watering and how much water it will need in an average week. This way you do not spread the water too thin, or overwater your plants. It is also important to use your water on plants that will respond favorably to this slightly more alkaline and saline water supply. Typically lawn is not ideal since there are potential pathogens in this water and, when a lawn is used for recreation for pets or people, they may come into contact with these pathogens. You should not water root or leafy green vegetables with this water for the same reason. Fruit or other trees as well as

shrubs are ideal. Some natives are sensitive to salty soils and may not appreciate this water. If you are not sure, ask at your local nursery, or contact a water harvesting professional. Which soap you use matters. Check out the ingredients and avoid anything with sodium in any form. Usually powders have a sodium base. Avoid borax as well. Two sure bets are ECOS and Oasis. There are now more resources in Southern California than ever to create efficient and effective greywater systems. Look for water harvesting workshops and tours, water harvesting professionals, articles and blogs. The Ecology Center has started stocking greywater materials and offering educational resources for greywater. •


Build a Rain Barrel

1 inch of rain on a 1,000SF roof = over 60 gallons of water!

Collect passively; water actively. Harvest the rain and reduce run-off and pollution of our local beaches. Use it to water your garden, wash clothes, car or flush the toilet.

3. Affix a piece of mesh or window screen over the hole in the lid to prevent debris or critters from falling in. If needed, you can attach a 45o elbow to the end of your downspout to reach your barrel.

Rain water is the best kind of water. We must learn how to harvest it. In doing so, we reduce storm water runoff and provide high quality irrigation water. Plus, because the majority of Southern California's water use goes to the garden, harvesting the rain will significantly reduce your utility bills! Best of all? It happens to be free.

4. Unscrew the bulkhead and place the threaded stem against the outside of the barrel about 4-6” above the ground.


55 Gallon barrel Bulkhead set Harden faucet 1 Piece of mesh or window screen Elbow fitting (optional)


1. Purchase a clean, 55-gallon, food-grade plastic barrel. Do not use a used barrel or one you retrieved from the dump. 2. Cut a hole the size of your downspout into the top of the barrel or lid. A hole or sabre saw will do the trick.

5. Trace around the stem, and cut out the traced hole. 6. Place one of the rubber gaskets on the stem and push it through the hole so that the base of the stem and rubber gasket are still on the inside of the barrel. The stem should fit snugly. 7. Slide the second gasket onto the stem that is now protruding out from the barrel. Next, screw the washer onto the stem. 8. Tighten it down against the gasket, but avoid over tightening. You can now thread a garden faucet into the bulkhead, and affix a hose. TIPS

Look before you leap! The bulkhead thread size will determine what size faucet can be inserted. Faucets have thread sizes that can be made larger or smaller with adapter pieces found in hardware stores.

"There is absolutely no reason why everyone shouldn't be catching the little bit of rain we get and putting it to good use. We all have the roof space to catch the rain... And I'm sure we all have somewhere to use it... Now it's just a matter of storing it. Water is precious. Let's do our best to preserve it." — ROB MACHADO PL ANTING SEASONALY / MARCH / APRIL / MAY Find wonder in spring harvest. To get involved with your food, take a look at the list below, follow the seed start/planting directions on your seed packets, and welcome seasonal goodness at your local farmers market (

PL ANT: beans beets cabbage carrots chard corn cucumbers green onions herbs kale kohlrabi

IN SEASON: leafy greens melons peppers/chiles peas potatoes radishes spinach summer squash sunflowers tomatillos tomatoes

artichokes asparagus beets broccoli cabbages carrots cauliflower chard chicories grapefruits kale

kohlrabi leeks leaf and head lettuces blood oranges parsnips radishes rhubarb spinach strawberries turnips

A couple of things to keep in mind…When planting larger seeds, such as beans and squash, always plant directly into the ground or container. With smaller seeds, you can either plant directly or start in a greenhouse and transplant the sprouted seedlings into the ground. For more information, visit, and join us for our “We Are Earth Day” festival and seedling sale on Saturday, April 13 in San Juan Capistrano!


ECOAPPRENTICES PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE 2013 Under the tutelage of agro-ecologist Evan Marks and other ecology professionals, increase your knowledge of applied sustainability by joining us in this permaculture design certification course. Gather the tools and practical, systemic solutions to repair and benefit our local ecosystems and environment.

TOPICS COVERED IN-DEPTH INCLUDE: ECO-DESIGN permaculture principles; ecology + natural history; local and global design strategies

FOOD sustainable food systems; growing your own; soil remediation; plant propogation; backyard agroforestry; seed saving

WATER water in the landscape; rainwater catchment; greywater reuse; aquaculture; household efficiency

WASTE nutrient cycles in nature; regenerative design; composting basics; backyard chickens; mushroom cultivation

ENERGY: household auditing; alternative + appropriate technology; solar applications; bicycle power

SHELTER bioregional organization; food preservation; toxin elimination; co-ops + skillshares


Classes meet May 11/25, June 8/22, July 13/27, August 10/24, October 12/26, November 9/23. Tuition: $895/$850 members of The Ecology Center includes private design studio hours, curriculum and supporting materials, practicum, and certification. Scholarships and work/study opportunities exist thanks to the

generous support of The Boeing Company Global Corporate Citizenship Fund, SDG&E Environmental Champions, and the Center for Living Peace. Visit for details and to register.


Maximize beneficial relationships and efficiency by “stacking functions.” As mentioned previously, water-harvesting strategies offer maximum benefits when they’re integrated into a comprehensive overall siteplan. We focused on locating the earthworks where we wanted to stack functions with multi-use vegetation. Through rainwater harvesting earthworks, we’ve nurtured a solar arc of trees on the east, north, and west sides of our northern hemisphere home that cool us in the summer, but let in the free light and warmth of the sun in winter. (In the southern hemisphere the trees would be planted on the east, west, and south sides of the building) A living fence of native plants along the property line (along with an existing citrus tree) form part of a sun trap. This suntrap shades our garden from the afternoon sun, creates on-site stormwater control, and enhances habitat for native songbirds and butterflies. THE BIG PICTURE

Within our generative landscape, rainwater has become our primary water source, greywater our secondary water

source, and municipal groundwater a strictly and infrequently used supplemental source (meeting no more than 5% of our exterior water needs). Most of our established landscape has even become regenerative by thriving on rainwater alone. Our household of three adults consumes less than 20,000 gallons (75,000 liters) of municipal water annually, with over 90% of that being recycled in the landscape as greywater. Additionally, we harvest and infiltrate over 100,000 gallons (379,000 liters) of rain and runoff into the soil of our site (and, by extension, the community’s watershed) over the course of our annual average rainfall. As a household, we’re shifting more and more to living within our rainwater “budget”: the natural limits of our local environment. As a result, we’re enriching the land, growing up to 25% of our food on site, creating a beautiful home and neighborhood environment – and giving back more than we take! The further we go, the easier and more fun it gets, which brings us to the eighth and last principle: PRINCIPLE #8:

Continually reassess your system and improve it. Three years ago, Rodd and I set up an

outdoor shower so the bather could either use pressurized municipal water at the showerhead or cistern water distributed from a shower bucket on a hook. Other strategies have included a solarpowered greywater “laundromat” in our backyard (utilized by seven neighboring households) along with a reduction in impermeable hardscape by replacing our asphalt driveway with lush plantings and earthworks. One of our most rewarding recent improvements has been the process of working with our neighbors and the city to replace 26% of the pavement from the corner intersection with a waterharvesting traffic circle planted with native vegetation. We also succeeded in implementing a system that harvests street runoff within curbside mulched basins to grow a greenbelt of trees along the street and sidewalk, so the street now passively irrigates the trees. It’s catching on. Neighbors have banded together to plant over 1,100 food-bearing native trees within water-harvesting earthworks in the neighborhood since 1996, and dozens of households have since implemented water-harvesting systems similar to ours. As a result, our neighborhood—once the victim of urban blight—is now one of the greenest and most livable areas of the city. •

My advice to anyone who wants to get started living more sustainably is to start with rainwater-harvesting. Start at the top. Start small But above all—start! See Brad’s latest endeavors at

SUSTAINABILI-TEE CONT. ronmentally-responsible foot forward. The initial feedback very encouraging and we look have a large percentage of our t-shirt business converted to this new fabrication by mid-to-late 2014. The goal is then to expand this fabrication and technology to other cottonbased Hurley products. We have a very real opportunity to make a positive change in the way apparel manufacturing affects our planet. We hope the steps Hurley is taking can pave the way for other companies to follow suit” Brett concludes. “This really is a marathon and not a sprint. Complex programs require long term plans to improve. We are excited by the journey so far and look forward to seeing what we are capable of achieving.” Well said. We couldn’t agree more. To us, our fashion is always driven by comfort, and of course, love…for the planet. •

Join us, and be part of the solution! The Ecology Center operates on the principle that individual actions make a difference to transform the larger community.

How are YOU part of the solution?


Become a member today!

Everyone can make a worthy contribution, whether it be through membership, volunteerism, or in-kind donation. In addition to furthering your own eco-journey, your contributions also support unique educational programs that go into schools and communities to elevate and sustain the health of the ecosystems that we all depend upon for life. V I S I T T H E E C O L O G Y C E N T E R . O R G / S U P P O R T T O D AY T O S E E T H E M E M B E R L E V E L B E N E F I T S & S I G N U P !


















The Calendar

Tools For Change General Store Hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 10am-4pm House and Garden Tours: First Saturdays of the month, 1PM, Free

All events take place at The Ecology Center, 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, unless otherwise noted. See more details and sign up at




02 Backyard Skills @ Center for Living Peace, Irvine: Garden Design 1-3PM / $12, sign up at

06 Farm 2 Fork: Kids Ages 6-12/ 11AM/ $20 (m), $25 (nm)

04 Backyard Skills @ Center for Living Peace, Irvine: Solar Ovens / 1-3PM / $12, sign up at

09 Backyard Skills Lecture: Rainwater Harvesting / 11AM / Free

Backyard Skills @ Center for Living Peace, Irvine: Tie-Dye Tees / 1-3PM / $12, sign up at

16 Backyard Skills Workshop: Greywater 1-3PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm)

13 We Are Earth Day Festival and Seedling Sale / 10AM-4PM / Free

21 Farm 2 Fork: Adults Ages 18+ / 6-7:30PM / $35 (m), $45 (nm)

20 Backyard Skills Workshop: Native Gardens w/ Tree of Life Nursery / 1-3PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm)

30 Community Skillshare: Water 1PM / Free / $15 suggested donation to further community water education

27 Backyard Skills Workshop: Cheesemaking 1-3PM/ $10 (m), $15 (nm), plus materials fee

11 Eco-Apprentice Program Kick-Off / 9AM Eco-Apprentices Lecture: Eco Design 10AM-12PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm) Backyard Skills Workshop: Building Garden Biodiversity / 1-3PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm), plus materials fee 23 Farm 2 Fork: Adults Ages 18+/ 6-7:30PM / $35 (m), $45 (nm) 25 Eco-Apprentices Lecture: Natural History & Ecology / 10AM-12PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm)

Come by and see the refreshed Tools For Change general store at The Ecology Center, and check out our e-store at

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABLE WATER AND OUR ECOSYSTEMS? Visit our new website at and explore the Calendar for our upcoming events and the Eco Feed for news, resources, and projects that you can do at home! The refresh is targeted to be able to offer something to everyone—student, teacher, family, or individual. We’ve invested time and energy into making the Eco Feed an interesting, inspiring, empowering web tool for you, and it is evolving all the time. Check it out, and share your WWW and DIY experiences with us!

Backyard Skills Workshop: Beekeeping 1-3PM / $10 (m), $15 (nm), plus materials fee




Profile for The Ecology Center

Evolve / Issue 08 / Water Wise  

An eco-journal of obtainable and sustainable solutions curated by The Ecology Center

Evolve / Issue 08 / Water Wise  

An eco-journal of obtainable and sustainable solutions curated by The Ecology Center