- Install a shower shut off valve, this $5 piece can reduce your shower use by 50%!
- Wash dishes using a dishpan.
- Detach the sink to drain into a bucket (see how below).
- If you have a yard, put a washing machine outside for easy greywater access.
- Investigate greywater options. Some landlords, especially those who pay the water bill, may be supportive of greywater reuse- several in the Bay Area have even paid for the systems!
- Build a simple sawdust-bucket composting toilet in the bathroom, or outside. A simple urine-only toilet--a toilet seat atop a 5-gallon (19 L) bucket--can collect urine for use as a liquid fertilizer.
Sustainable apartment livingby Sarah Shourd
Last year I moved out of a big, 8-bedroom communal house into a small apartment. The first thing I did when I moved in was borrow a pipe-wrench and disconnect the bathroom sink so that I could use the greywater to flush my toilet. We also made a seperate pee-bucket filled with sawdust so we could make some nice, natural fertilizer and add it to our compost. I wanted to make sure that apartment living didn't mean that I stopped living in the eco-conscious and non-wasteful way that I had grown accustomed to through communal living.
At first I was worried that a smaller space would limit what we could do. Now, one year later, we have raised-bed gardens in the backyard, rain catchment, compost, a clothes line and greywater from the sink and shower that we use to flush the toilet and water the garden. Our landlord is amazed by how low the water bill is (which he pays) and other people in the building have joined in the gardening and composting projects.
Even though there are certain things, like compost toilets, that may be a little difficult to pull-off in an apartment, I dare anyone to try and come up with a solution. In some ways it's easier for me to take responsibility for what I comsume or discard now that I live with only one other person because we know eachother's habits and can coordinate chores without some of the hassle that large-scale communal living entails.
Alternative technologies are extremely simple to use and install, even with very little time and money. I consider hauling the water to the backyard and using it to flush the toilet the little bit of upper-body exercise that I can handle after work each day. Picking fresh tomatoes, lettuce and greens from the backyard certainly beats going to the grocery store several times a week! I think technology should simplify our lives and decrease our environmental footprint at the same time. The added benefit is that we talk with our neighbors and have been able to spread a little bit of our excitement and commitment to conserving resources and living mindfully.
Step 2: Turn the P-trap to the side (a little water may spilll out, have a towel handy). Make sure you keep water in the P-trap, this prevents sewer gasses from getting into the bathrom. Rubberband a small plastic bag over the opening and let your sewer pipes rest!
Step 3: Insert a bucket under the sink drain to catch your greywater. It's easy to use this water to flush the toilet, simply dump it into the bowl of the toilet. If you use biodegradable, salt and boron free soaps you can also use this water to irrigate plants.