Zero Waste City Guide

Ann Arbor

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

Upcoming Event:

A2ZERO Week Food Waste Challenge (June 9-15th)



Find out where you can shop zero waste in Ann Arbor

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.


Your Zero Waste Survival Kit

Carrying these items with you 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 need.

Do your best not to make any 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 items can be found at home or at a secondhand shop, and some of them you can even make!

    Essential for to-go food, leftovers, or getting things from a deli counter
    Comes in handy often, 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 to use if a restaurant only offers disposable cutlery
    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 ShareWaste 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 to Start a 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Build in a trip to a 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 coop

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.


Ask yourself, “can I get this second hand?” every time you think of something you need to purchase.


Buy No Things and Olio are great ways to get into sharing and gifting!


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.


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!


Check out these 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. If your tech is broken and more than 10 years old you can take it to Best Buy for free electronics recycling.

E-Recycle and Repair Database


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!

Ann Arbor Circular Economy Page

Learn about circular economy and zero waste efforts in Ann Arbor.

A to Z Recycling Guide

Recycle Ann Arbor’s resource for finding out what is recyclable and where.

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 ZeroWaste.Org maintain this guide and support the circular economy in Ann Arbor. Our projects include Zero Waste Challenges, grassroots organizing, and the returnable container program.