After a record amount of rainfall, most of Southern California is now out of the intense drought that lasted five years (Santa Barbara notwithstanding). Although residents are celebrating, water conservation is still more important than ever, and a market has emerged for products that help Californians save water. One ingenious idea involves combining two of your bathroom fixtures: your sink and toilet with the concept of graywater.

Graywater is not exactly a new notion. The term refers to all of the excess, wasted water that is left over from common tasks, such as dishes, showers and baths that can actually be re-used. Typically, household water is used for cleaning or bathing and then simply washed down the drain, and diverted to filtration plants where it begins the costly process of being re-filtered. This water could be used for other tasks as-is, instead of beginning the costly process of being fully re-filtered clean. Graywater isn’t dirty – it’s just water that is generated as a byproduct of another task. For instance, instead of just leaving the shower running while it heats up, you can collect this water and use it to water plants or wash your clothes.

Another way to use graywater involves using it to flush your toilet. Companies such as Sink Positive allow an easy and relatively cheap way to turn the toilet tank into a sink to wash your hands. All you have to do is replace the toilet lid with Sink Positive’s basin. When you flush the toilet, fresh water comes out of the faucet for you to wash your hands with, and the soapy sink water collects in the tank for the next flush. Brilliant!

Utilizing graywater doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, either. Sink Positive’s set-up combines the sink and toilet, but you can use your current fixtures, too. Fitting your current toilet and sink set-up with a graywater reservoir, an attachment that saves the soapy water from your hand washing sink and uses it later to flush your toilet, can be done in a weekend with a few simple tools and can save money on future utility bills. Kohler offers a graywater reservoir that can be purchased on Amazon for less than $400.