Zero Waste City Guide
Zero Waste City Guide
The best resources in Ann Arbor for reducing waste and its impact on the planet, in communities near and far.
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Your Zero Waste Survival Kit
Here are a few things you can carry with you that will open up 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 already have cutlery you can use instead of buying a new “to-go” set. Most of these things you can find at home or at a second hand shop, and 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, and 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 cart 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 cart, you can check out the Share Waste app to see if your neighbors may be willing 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 items you can get without changing your 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 farmers 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 for 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 items – especially big items like furniture and cars – not only eliminates the demand for the production (extraction, refinement, manufacture, transport) of a new item, but is also cheaper and often means you are 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 (which means your taxes will thank you for your generosity 🙂).