Zero Waste City Guide
Zero Waste City Guide
The best local resources for reducing waste and its impact on the planet, and communities near and far.
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Your Zero Waste Survival Kit…
There are a few things you can take with you that will open us a lot of zero waste options. These are just suggestions so feel free to customize your zero waste survival kit to fit your needs
Do your best not to make any new purchases while putting together your kit. For example you probably have cutlery at home you can bring along instead of buying a new “to-go” set. Most of these things you can find at home or at a second hand shop. Some of them you can even make!
Tupperware or Food Container
Essential for to-go food or getting things from a deli counter.
Comes in very handy, especially if you come across an unexpected zero waste store!
Replaces tissue and paper napkins, can be used as a food container in a pinch.
For eating on the go, or if a restaurant is using disposable cutlery.
Cup or Mug
If you need a drink while out and about.
38% of Michigan’s Municipal Waste Is Biodegradable
Aside from not buying new things, making sure your food scraps get composted is likely the very best thing you can do to reduce your personal waste footprint. Here’s how to get composting in Ann Arbor:
See if you can get curbside pickup
If you have a brown cart you can put food scraps in your compost bin! If you have city waste services and need a brown bin you can request one below. Expect significant waits as staff are limited.
Get connected with a neighbor
If you don’t have access to a curbside card, you can check out the Share Waste app to see if your neighbors have a way to take your compost.
Start your own compost
If you have a yard you can consider making your own compost pile! Here’s a good intro how to video.
How do I transport compost?
We’ve found that if you need to keep compost in your home it’s best to freeze it in a bag. That also makes it easier to manage when you’re transporting it to your nearest compost.
Build your zero waste shopping routine…
Food is where you will find the most friction when trying to reduce waste.
Get What YOu Can Close to home
Go to the store you tend to shop at and do a completely zero waste shopping trip. That way you know what you can reliably get without changing routine.
Find a great bulk Store
For the things you can’t get at your usual store you’ll need to find a specialty store that fills the gaps. Filter the map above to find your closest bulk store.
Build in a Trip To The Market
If you can find a market close to home, or somewhere you visit often, it’s great to build a routine around market days. E.g. every Saturday go to the library, walk downtown, and pick up food from the market on the way home.
People's Food Co-Op
Great bulk section, loose veggies, spices, coffee, and grains!
By The Pound
Ann Arbor’s premiere resource for zero waste shopping everything from oils to grains, to pasta, to candy.
Save food from going to landfill
Olio allows you to list and pick up excess food from your neighbors
What you want has already been produced!
Buying used, especially big items, like furniture and cars, not only eliminates the demand for the production (extraction, refinement, manufacture, transport) of a new item, it’s also cheaper and oftentimes means your giving money to a neighbor rather than a distant executive.
Join the Gift Economy
Buy No Things and Olio are great ways to get into sharing and gifting!
Get Used Tech
A new laptop creates about 400X its weight in CO2! Electronics are so easy to get used or refurbished and they have an outsize environmental impact.
Ebay, Craigslist, or Backmarket
Keep your stuff out of the landfill
Repair, especially for larger items and electronics is an essential tactic to reduce the pressure to extract more resources.
Learn to Repair
Join Maker Works or All Hands Active at a community repair day!
iFixIt Repair Guides
Repair guides for everything, written by everyone.
Additional helpful links
County Trash to Treasures Guide
Comprehensive list of all the resources you could need to rent, repair, donate, or recycle your stuff!
A to Z Recycling Guide
Recycle Ann Arbor’s resource for finding out what is recyclable and where.
Ann Arbor Circular Economy Page
Learn about circular economy and zero waste efforts in Ann Arbor.
Unusual Stuff to Borrow
Learn about what you can check out of the library instead of buying.
Support Zero Waste in Ann Arbor
Your generous donations helps Live Zero Waste to maintain this guide and support the circular economy in Ann Arbor. Our projects include Zero Waste Challenges, grassroots organizing, and the returnable container program. We’re proud to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit certified by GuideStar. That also means, give generously if you can, your taxes will thank you for it 🙂