Cardiff resident Greg Bullock left the world of Fortune 500 companies to found Water Recycle, an environmental enterprise that designs sustainable, productive landscapes that grow through greywater irrigation and rain harvesting. Specializing in gravity-based laundry-to-landscape systems, and bathroom/shower systems, he helps clients develop efficient water management strategies and technologies, and provides education and outreach to homeowners, landscapers, builders, architects, plumbers, schools, and other community groups.

Bullock decided nearly 12 years ago to relocate to San Diego from England, a country that has plenty of water but has its own water challenges. Knowing that we import nearly all of our water, Bullock became increasingly interested in the water challenges here. He ultimately decided to turn his skills as a management consultant for large corporations towards the world of water. “When I discovered these little known, simple, yet highly effective systems that can turn a waste, greywater, into a resource again, I wanted to promote this as a real, practical solution for San Diego and encourage more to consider it,” says Bullock.

“We can create beautiful and functional gardens just by using the water that either freely falls from the sky or that we have already paid for,” Bullock explains. “With water rates increasing as they are, the cost of a system can easily pay for itself in one or two years.” Bullock also points out that a recent UCLA study found that if just ten percent of homes in Southern California used their washing machine water to irrigate their gardens, it would save enough water to offset the need for a large desalination plant, which is not only very costly to build, but would also need an enormous amount of fossil fuels to operate. “I think it makes much more sense to use what we already have efficiently than go down the desalination path,” he adds.

Bullock also points out that using greywater for irrigation makes us rethink our personal care product selections. “It’s a great step of consciousness for many of my clients as they realize what soap or detergent they use will have a direct impact on the health of their plants. Then they start to examine the ingredients of other products they may be applying to their skin, especially when we consider how porous our skin really is.” He recommends a great resource, Cosmeticdatabase.org, which is an online database that lists the chemical ingredients of most products on the market and whether they are found to be toxic. “Consumer laws are such that many of these ingredients don’t even need to be on the product’s label,” he explains, “so I encourage people to check for themselves. However, be prepared to be shocked if you do!”

Nearly every home can do something to benefit from either reusing greywater in some way, or making the most of what falls on the land. But, it’s important to consider that every home’s situation is different. Depending on the location of the laundry and/or the bathroom plumbing, one must consider whether gravity can transport the water, which would provide the most bang for the buck. If the water has to be pumped up-slope, for example, it might not be practical.   

But with the summer season fast approaching, making a wise home investment, both economically and environmentally, is certainly something worth considering. (650/804-2401, www.waterrecycle.net)  MIA STEFANKO