Before I start in on my tips on going zero waste in Indianapolis, I have a confession: I’m not a Hoosier by birth.
I am a born and bred East-Coaster who somewhat serendipitously fell into Indianapolis in October 2015. Since then, I’ve fallen deeply in love with the city (warts and all) and I can see myself staying here for many years. Big stuff for an almost compulsive wanderer like myself!
As I ease further and further into the zero waste movement, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate local excellence into my zero waste routine and encourage other Hoosiers to do the same.
Five easy(ish) steps to going zero waste in Indianapolis:
1. Start composting and recycling if you’re not already
If you live in a house, recycling in Indianapolis is easy – you can simply sign up for the city program to pick it up along with your trash. If you live in an apartment… it’s a little trickier. Find out more about my trials and tribulations in this post.
Composting is one of the best ways to reduce waste heading to the landfill. Creating a super-simple compost bucket isn’t too hard, and it can really go just about anywhere. For some good basic info, check out this post on urban composting.
Check out my Pinterest board for some cool inspiration for composting in the city:
2. Make a list of zero waste, local alternatives for things you buy often
Because my life has been reduced pretty drastically over five to six years of living minimally, most of my zero waste journey has focused on food. But do a thorough (honest!) assessment of what you buy most often. Then, look at ways to effectively turn that list more zero waste and as local as possible – within whatever budget constraints you’re working with.
Have a look at my (partial) list:
|Purchased item||Zero waste option||Where to buy?|
|Produce||Loose produce||Local farmers market, Meijer, Kroger, etc.|
|Dairy/Eggs||Local eggs and milk in glass jars||Trader’s Point milk (Kroger, Meijer…) and eggs from year-round Farm to Fork Market|
|Pantry items (dried/canned goods)||Bulk||Green Earth Indy, Fresh Thyme Market|
|Alcohol||Refillable growlers or recyclable glass||Local breweries, cider from Ash & Elm, local wines/spirits from liquor store|
|Clothes||Second-hand||Goodwill, Value World|
|Makeup||DIY or items in reusable packaging||Good Earth Indy, Eva Maison|
|Shampoo, conditioner, soap||DIY or items in reusable packaging||Pogues Run Grocer (J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bar), Good Earth Indy|
|Plants||Locally-sourced, seeds in bulk||Trailside General Store, Rosie’s Garden, Eagle Creek Nursery|
3. Join/support local groups with a similar ethos
Fighting the good fight against plastic and over-consumption alone can be discouraging. A great way to find motivation is by becoming part of a larger group with more power! Amazing organizations in the Indianapolis area that focus on zero waste or zero waste adjacent operations include:
Second Helpings: free culinary job training, food rescue, and hunger relief in Central Indiana.
Slow Food Indy: local chapter of an international grassroots organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all.
Trade School Indy: Trade School is a non-traditional learning community that runs on a barter system.
4. Use local resources to create less waste
Indianapolis may not be the most forward-thinking city in terms of zero waste, but resources are available to make your zero waste journey easier.
For any extra food, think about donating stuff you won’t end up using to a local Community Food Box. Check the page to see where one close to you is – mine is at the MLK Community Center – and consider dropping off excess food at one of those spots.
For used items, you can give or take items for free through the Indy chapter of Freecycle.org. Not only can you opt out of consumerism more often, you’re also giving used items new life when they’d otherwise be thrown in the trash!
5. Find like-minded friends!
A good start would be the Indianapolis Zero Waste group, which I’ve just joined. It’s a new group which will hopefully expand as it gets bigger – come on over and get to know some fellow zero wasters in the area!
You can also be my friend on Instagram – let’s chat all about our awesomeness!
You can also sign up for the Green Indy mailing list, where I’ll include new Indy-specific tips when I come across them! If you have any tips for going zero waste in Indianapolis, please leave them in the comments below!