Zero Waste Baking

My heart, holding my heart

I really enjoy baking, and I especially enjoy baking with my three kids. Part of our zero waste lifestyle is baking almost all of our loaves of bread for sandwiches as well as crackers and goodies.  

Since we live as waste-free as possible, we also ensure that all of our baking ingredients are zero waste. We do this by buying most of the ingredients in bulk from our local coop—but don’t worry, if you don’t live near a bulk store, there are still ways to reduce waste when baking. 

Here are a few of my favorite tips:

DIY Vanilla

I love to use vanilla sugar when baking. Good news!—it’s super easy to make your own. Just grind sugar and a vanilla bean together. 

1 ½ cup sugar 

1 vanilla bean

Pour the sugar into a mixer/food processor and add the vanilla pod. Run at maximum speed for 3 minutes. Strain out all the pieces from the vanilla bean and put them in a new jar with 1 cup of sugar (they still give flavor, so throwing them away is unnecessary). Store in a jar with a lid. 

Vanilla Extract

My friend Anne Marie, creator of Zero Waste Chef, has a fabulous recipe for vanilla extract

Baking powder

Did you know that 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch = 1 teaspoon of homemade baking powder? It’s as simple as that to make your own baking powder. I buy all the ingredients in recyclable cardboard packing, glass, or in bulk. 

Brown sugar

It’s a breeze to make your own brown sugar by combining sugar and molasses.


1 C white sugar

1 tsp molasses

Mix sugar and molasses in a mixing bowl with your fingers until the sugar is brown. If you want darker brown sugar, add another teaspoon of molasses.


I make vegan butter as well. Here is my recipe:


2 ½ cup coconut oil

½ cup oil

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp powdered lecithin

½ cup non-dairy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until mixture is white and smooth. Keep in the fridge.


Applesauce is one of those foods that is so easy to make that once you start making it, you’ll never have a reason to buy it again. You can find my recipe here

Plant-based milk

We make our own oat milk that works wonderfully for baking. Here is my recipe.


Sourdough is a great way to bake without yeast. Here is my sourdough recipe. Not only do I use sourdough in bread, but I also use it in crackers, tortillas, and cakes. 

Buying bulk foods eliminates heaps of packaging waste!

We avoid plastic bags and packaging by using our own glass containers and paper bags, which can be recycled and composted. We’re able to find the following foods in bulk: flour, maple syrup, nuts, seeds, oil, and spices. Unfortunately, we have yet to find sugar that’s not packaged in plastic.

If you cannot find these items in bulk, look for them in recyclable glass bottles or compostable paper bags.

For my equipment I use silicon mats instead of disposable parchment papers and reusable baking cups. We also store our breads, cookies and baked goods in reusable storage bags. You can also freeze bread in cloth bags or even pillow cases.

If you’re looking for more information and inspiration to start baking bread you can read about the art of baking bread here and here is my bean bread recipe and my cracker recipe.

Fredrika Syren

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