Zero Waste City Guide

Ann Arbor

Zero Waste City Guide

The best local resources for reducing waste and its impact on the planet, and communities near and far.


Interactive Map

Find out what resources are near you

Getting Started

Basic waste reduction toolkit


Finding a home for your food scraps

Grocery Shopping

Shopping zero waste in Ann Arbor


Extend the lifetime of your belongings

Buying Used

Save money, save resources


Helpful links

Interactive Map

HINT:👇 Use the “Filter by” option to narrow down the map!

Filter by

The land the City of Ann Arbor occupies is the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – (including Odawa, Ojibwe and Boodewadomi) and Wyandot peoples.

Getting Started

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.


Reusable Bag

Comes in very handy, especially if you come across an unexpected zero waste store!


Cloth Napkin

Replaces tissue and paper napkins, can be used as a food container in a pinch.


Reusable Cutlery

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.

Grocery Shopping

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

Buy Used

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.


Shop Second Hand

The easiest first step is just to ask “can I get this second hand” every time you think of something you need to purchase.


Craigslist Ann Arbor

Facebook Marketplace

Ebay (ask them to ship in reused box)

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.

Tool Sharing

All Hands Active has a tool sharing program for members, the library offers some tools to checkout, or  you can list or request tools on Olio to start up tool sharing in Ann Arbor.


Check out Keen Focus Tech’s post on the hidden impact of buying new tech and if your tech is broken and more than 10 years old you can take it to Best Buy for free electronics recycling.

Get Parts

Repair Clinic has guides and parts available for all kinds of appliances.


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 🙂 

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