When I was in elementary school, there was a commercial about recycling with a song that went, "Recycle, reduce, reuse, and close the loop!" Now, every time I think about recycling (which is often, given that I work for a company that publishes tons of kid's crafts with recycled materials, and with Earth Day coming up on Sunday), I hear that song in my head. Every. Goddamn. Time.
Still, even though that song makes me want to recycle its writers into compost, it did drive home the message of living a more eco-friendly life. And in fact, living in a tiny apartment is already a big step in the right direction. Even though people think of cities as being polluted and dirty, living in a small apartment is actually good for the environment! You're taking up less physical space, and therefore it takes less energy to heat or cool your home. By building up instead of out, less land has to be cleared for new housing. If you live in the city where you work, you're more likely to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the office. And with less room, you're more likely to have multi-use furniture, and to think twice about buying more stuff since you have no place to put it! You begin to train yourself to be less wasteful.
This collection of sink combos capture that thinking perfectly. Their design is 50% saving space, 50% saving water. By placing the sink on top of the toilet tank, you eliminate the need for a separate sink and its pedestal or cabinet taking up valuable floor space. And these all make your water go twice as far: first, clean water is pumped into the sink. The "gray water" (the "used" water) goes down the drain and is then used to flush the toilet. Instead of wasting clean water washing away your, erm, waste, the only-slightly-used water is given a second job. It's a win-win for both small space dwellers and the environment.
This concept sink and toilet combo from designer Jang Wooseok has two tanks; one fills with gray water and uses it for flushing once it's full, and the other fills with tap water just like a regular toilet, for flushing when there is no gray water to be used. From Coroflot.
Australian manufacturer Caroma created this "Profile Smart 305" sink/toilet model. Not only does it reuse the sink's water in the toilet, but it has two flush settings as well, so that you use only as much water as you need. As Smart Planet points out, not only does this setup save water, but it saves the extra energy you'd need to pump clean water separately into the toilet and the sink.
If you're worried about touching a tap handle on a sink that's attached to an icky toilet, this Sinkpositive by Environmental Designworks eliminates that problem by automatically running clean water out of the faucet during the flush cycle for touchless handwashing. (And of course all of the water is recycled, so there's no waste if you're a gross person and don't wash your hands after doing your business.) It's also an aftermarket attachment, so you don't have to replace your entire toilet to install it. From Toy Store Inc.
As if I didn't already love Smeg for their gorgeous, colorful, retro-inspired refrigerators, they also have this clever sink and washing machine combo. While having a washer in an apartment is only a dream for most of us, squeezing your washer into your bathroom in place of the sink just might make it a reality. And it's so cute, too! Via DigsDigs.