The everyday choices you make in the kitchen — what to bake, what ingredients to use, and which tools to reach for — add up and contribute to your overall environmental impact. And we get it, reducing your climate footprint can feel daunting. Where do you even start? 

We’re here to help by sharing simple steps you can take today to make your baking more sustainable. They may feel small, but these meaningful changes can add up to big things over time. The key is to just keep making them, and remember that the work we do to make the kitchen a more sustainable place is all cumulative. Start with these seven tips to become a more environmentally-friendly baker.

Chocolate chip cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Kristin Teig
Parchment paper makes cleanup easy and ensures your baked goods turn perfectly brown in the oven.

1) Reuse your parchment paper

We use parchment paper every single day in the Test Kitchen. But while it’s perfect for lining sheet pans, cake pans, and much more, there is one downside: Parchment paper isn’t recyclable or compostable because of the silicone coating that makes it nonstick.

But that doesn’t mean you have to toss it every time you use it: Parchment can be reused many times. Baker and blogger PJ Hamel says she’s used a single piece over a dozen times, putting it to work repeatedly until it becomes charred. (Parchment tends to become charred when baked at temperatures over 425°F for long periods, like when you’re making crusty bread.)

There are occasions when reusing parchment isn’t advised, like if you’ve used it to separate raw dough or it’s too difficult to wipe clean. PJ’s post, You can reuse parchment more than you think, outlines how to reduce waste by getting the most out of this kitchen staple. 

A bag of Climate Blend Flour on a kitchen table surrounded by other baking ingredients Photography by Danielle Sykes; Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
Climate Blend is the flour of the future.

2) Choose a regeneratively-grown flour

It’s easy to forget that flour starts with a plant (usually wheat) growing in a field. There are many ways wheat can be planted, grown, and harvested, ranging from conventional practices that till the soil and use chemicals to deter pests to regenerative agriculture, which aims to restore natural resources and actively improve the soil.  

Support healthy soils, ecosystems, and farming communities by baking with flour milled from regeneratively-grown wheat. That includes our new Regeneratively-Grown Climate Blend Flour and our White Whole Wheat Flour, both of which are milled from wheat grown with regenerative agriculture practices like cover cropping and crop rotations, minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers, no/limited tillage, and more.

Both flours can be used in any recipe that calls for whole wheat flour, or substituted for 25% of the all-purpose flour in your favorite bakes. Climate Blend adds nutty, earthy flavor and tenderness to baked goods like muffins, scones, and sandwich bread, while White Whole Wheat Flour is mild-flavored and lighter in color than other whole wheat varieties. It’s ideal in recipes like waffles, cookies, and crusty bread.

Learn more about regeneratively-grown wheat and our commitment to sustainable farming practices on our Grains for Good page.

dairy free milk Anne Mientka
Swapping in plant-based milk for dairy is an easy change that can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses produced from dairy and save water. (Yes, even almond milk!)

3) Bake with plant-based milk

As bakers, we love our dairy: Butter, milk, and cream are staples. However, there’s an environmental cost to using these animal products. Research shows that plant-based milk results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, uses less water, and requires less land for production when compared to dairy milk, so swapping in a non-dairy alternative can be a beneficial change.

The dairy aisle is exploding with plant-based milks, and it can feel difficult to choose between soy, oat, almond, coconut milk, and other non-dairy options. It turns out that some of these milks have more benefits than others, with oat and soy milk having the smallest environmental footprints.

Of course, there are nuances to consider, like whether you’re choosing an organic variety and where and how the plants used to make the milk were grown. Employee-owner Tatiana Bautista dives into the pros and cons of common plant-based milks in this post: What’s the most environmentally-friendly plant-based milk to bake with?

Bread dough in a bowl being covered with plastic wrap Mark Weinberg
It may seem like a small change, but eliminating plastic wrap from your bread baking can add up over time. 

4) Stop covering bread dough with plastic

We’re always trying to keep single-use plastic out of our baking: It drains resources, fills landfills, threatens waterways and soil health, and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

While baking, you might find yourself frequently reaching for plastic wrap to cover your bread dough. But thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives. Store your dough in a clear dough-rising bucket, or cover the bowl of rising dough with a plate or a pan. If your dough isn’t very slack (such as most traditional sandwich bread), you can even leave it on the counter and use a large, overturned bowl to cover it. This will keep it from drying out, and if you use a glass bowl, you can still see its progress while it rises.

If your dough undergoes its final rise in a pan, there are lots of options, too. Many sizes of baking pans come with reusable covers, such as a 9" x 13" pan (great for cinnamon rolls) or a sheet pan (perfect for focaccia). If you’re trying to cover a shaped loaf of sandwich bread, use a reusable bowl cover that leaves plenty of space for the rising dough to expand. Reusable wrap (coated with beeswax or soy wax to prevent drying out) is also a great all-purpose option.

Pizza baking in an oven on the top rack close to the broiler Andrew Janjigian
There are many ways to maximize your oven efficiency; keeping the oven door closed during baking is one of the simplest techniques.

5) Don't open your oven door while baking

This is both a baking reminder and a sustainability tip. Every time you open the oven door, whether to peek at your bread or rotate your cookies, a significant amount of heat is lost. This isn’t great for your bakes, especially sensitive recipes like soufflé and cream puffs, because they need consistent heat throughout baking. But it’s also not great for your oven’s energy use: Every time the temperature drops, your oven must address it with increased energy consumption.  

This isn’t to say you can’t rotate your pans for even browning — just be mindful about doing this as efficiently as possible and check your bakes by looking through the glass door with the interior light on as a first step. (This is the time to give your oven door a good clean to remove any residue that may make it difficult to see inside.) 

A dozen eggs on the kitchen counter next to a bag of King Arthur Flour Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
The next time you make a batch of pastry cream and have egg whites left over, freeze those whites until you’re ready to make a fluffy sponge cake.

6) Freeze excess eggs instead of tossing them

It can be easy to stock up on eggs, only to have them near their expiration date while they idle in the fridge. Or maybe you made a big batch of pastry cream and find yourself with leftover egg whites you don’t know how to use. Sure, you could make an omelet. Or, save those eggs by freezing them: It’s more sustainable to save leftovers instead of creating waste and then buying more.

There are some things you need to know (like don’t freeze the eggs in their shell) — for details, see our post on how to freeze excess eggs for baking.

Two slices of French toast on a plate; a baker spreads berry jam on top Photography by Danielle Sykes; Food styling by Kaitlin Wayne
Using leftover bread doesn't have to be a hassle. It can be easy and delicious with recipes like Sheet Pan French Toast.

7) Upgrade leftover bread to avoid food waste

Many of us have ended up with half a loaf of bread lingering around for longer than intended. It might feel dry and stale, leaving you tempted to toss it. But instead of throwing it away, use it in your cooking and baking. (In some cases, it’s actually ideal for bread to be slightly stale so that it can soak up other ingredients.) Some options you could make with your leftover bread:  

For more ideas on how to become a more environmentally-conscious baker, see our Sustainable Baking Guide.

Cover photo by Danielle Sykes; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne.

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Kye Ameden
The Author

About Kye Ameden

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always loved food, farms, and family. She spent her teenage years working by her chef/uncle’s side in an industrial kitchen, cracking hundreds of eggs, slicing cheesecakes into 13 perfect slices, and developing her passion for precision and baking.&nbsp...
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