Low Waste Baking

**last updated 10/08/20. This will be continuously updated as I try new ingredients or discover more items. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Ok, let’s talk Low Waste baking. Overall, baking lends itself fairly well to low-waste. A lot of what you can purchase is already kept in eco-friendly packaging or there are easy swaps available.

I’m going to keep this post updated as I add new recipes so you can reference back to it and I’m not saying the same thing every post.

  • All-purpose flour: If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a bulk store near you, King Arthur flour, which is available nationwide in most grocery stores, is an excellent choice. They were founded in Boston (oh hey!), became B-Corp certified in 2007 (B-Corps are a great place to start if you are looking to shop more consciously) and are members of 1% for the Planet. Additionally, some of their flours are grown and milled in the US. In terms of packaging, it’s food grade paper so it’s not made from recycled paper. The ink on the bag prevents this from being home compostable but as long as it’s just paper, you can recycle it. If you try and rip a little and it rips cleanly (it’s not lined with plastic), it’s just paper and can be recycled.
  • Baking Powder: As you can see, my Baking Powder isn’t zero waste. Fortunately, I have access to Baking Powder in bulk so I can refill that package when it runs out. I know this is a more difficult product to find zero waste. It looks like King Arthur Baking does offer it in a tin, though, I have not tried this yet.
  • Baking Soda: If you purchase this is the cardboard box, it’s recyclable.
  • Butter: Miyoko butter comes in compostable packaging but if I’m honest, I don’t love that butter. I find it’s either too soft or too hard and I don’t love the markings for TBSPs and baking. I will often swap butter for coconut oil. You can do this with a 1:1 swap.
  • Chocolate Chips: I think some of the fancy “chips” like peanut butter or butter scotch would be hard to find zero-waste but chocolate chips should be easier. I purchase mine from a bulk bin. You can also make your own (option here toward the bottom or here for a homemade bar you can cut up). If you want to get fancy, Kakawa Chocolate House, which I visited in Salem, offers homemade chocolate that they make in house. I bought the 68% chocolate chips and they are the best chocolate chips I think I’ve ever bought. When I purchased it in house, it come in a brown paper bag. If you order it on line, you may want to make sure it ships in this packaging as well. You could also purchase bulk squares of chocolate and cut it up. You have some options here.
  • Coconut oil: I replace butter with coconut oil in many recipes because it’s much easier to find in sustainable packaging. For baking, I tend to use refined Coconut oil (to minimize the coconut flavor) which I purchase in a glass container with a metal lid. The glass jars can be repurposed or recycled. I tend to repurpose them and use them for storage. You can swap coconut oil for butter in a 1:1 ratio
  • Eggs: With COVID and people suddenly keeping chickens, we’ve had a pretty steady supply of farm fresh eggs this year. Shells are compostable and the container, if paper, is usually recyclable (as long as there is no egg residue) or even compostable, depending on the type you have.
  • Maple Syrup: This is another product that is often available in glass. If you live in an area that is known for maple syrup (like New England), Farmer’s Markets often have a great selection. You can talk directly with the company and see if they offer a take back program for their bottles. Often starting conversations with suppliers is the best way to let them know what their customers are looking for.
  • Oats: Oats is one of the most common items I see available in bulk. I feel like it’s usually oats, popcorn and coffee. Even my local Big Y has them available in bulk. If you really can’t find them in bulk, purchasing a big paper tub of them would be the best option, I think. For some reason, these lend themselves well to DIY projects. I noticed a lot of options floating around Pinterest, especially if you kids. To dispose of them, you have to remove the plastic ring from the top but the paper container can be recycled. The plastic ring has to be tossed.
  • Peanut Butter: 1 word- Teddie’s. Teddie’s has the best peanut butter, ever. There’s not arguing with me so don’t try. It has two ingredients (peanuts, salt), is made right in Everett, MA and it comes in glass packaging with metal lids. Honestly, I started making my own pb purely because I had so many Teddie’s jars, I couldn’t justify adding more to my collection. I use them to store dry goods, as a water glass in my bathroom and for portioning out soup for the week when I meal prep. They are so handy. Plus, it’s just the best tasting pb.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Sold in aluminum cans, which are recyclable.
  • Salt: If you purchase this in the cardboard cylinder, it should be recyclable. Morton Salt now participates in the How2Recycle movement so you can check all their products to see if it’s lined with plastic. This is another item you may find in bulk easily if you have a bulk spice store near you.
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, etc): Simply Organic sells a myriad of spices in glass jars with metal lids. This are great to reuse and refill if you have access to bulk spices.
  • Sugar, brown: Brown sugar is almost always sold in plastic and I’ve never seen this in bulk before. Skip the plastic bag, purchase molasses in a glass jar and make your own brown sugar. The go-to recipe is 1 cup of granulated white sugar + 1 TBSP of molasses. Store in an airtight container like a mason jar to prevent drying.
  • sugar, powdered/confectioners: Like brown sugar, I have never seen this in plastic-free packaging but you can make it from granulated sugar. Combine 1 cup of white sugar and 1 TBSP cornstarch (or arrowroot) in a small food processer, high speed blender or spice grinder and blend for about 2 minutes. Stir. Blend again until you have the texture of confectioners sugar.
  • Sugar, white granulated: Like flour, granulated sugar can be purchased in paper bags that can be recycled. Again, they are food grade paper so they are not made from recycled paper and due to ink, can’t be composted.
  • Vanilla: I used Simply Organic which comes in a glass package. I’m itching to make my own though. If you know a good place to buy vanilla beans in bulk, leave me a message

I know everyone is in a different part of the world and has access to different items so what works for one may not work for all. Additionally, there is more to consider than just the packaging. Where does it come from? Are the workers/farmers well paid and well treated? For now, I’m just discussing the packaging of a product. I will develop this more as we go, adding some note on fair trade products and such. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Low Waste Baking

  1. […] For the vanilla syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved into the water. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool. Keeps in fridge for at least a month. For low waste notes on sugar and vanilla, see my baking ingredients post. […]

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