Shopping·7 min read

The Cool Down's Cofounder on How to Make Your Home a Bit More Sustainable

sustainable swaps for your home
Design: theSkimm | Images: Amazon
July 2, 2024

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Back in the era of iPods and low-rise jeans, if you wanted to choose sustainable products, that usually meant paying more money for items that didn’t work as well. But times have changed. As a working mom with two kids under the age of 10, and as the cofounder of the biggest climate brand in America, I’ve made it my mission to find cleaner, healthier products that get the job done. 

I’ve partnered with theSkimm to share what I actually use in my home. Small improvements are the goal: Just start somewhere, and as you eke out that last drop of detergent or use the last square of toilet paper, get inspired to swap in something else.

pyrex glass storage container set

The ultimate set of glass storage containers…

An easy, quick way to reduce your plastic exposure is to trade your plastic Tupperware for glass storage containers. I swear by this set, which has a size for everything — from last night’s leftovers to sauces and the odd lemon wedge. Even better: These are refrigerator-, freezer-, dishwasher-, and microwave-safe. ($48.83/18-piece set, Walmart)

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rechargeable batteries
Pale Blue

Rechargeable batteries that actually work and save you money…

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a flashlight with dead batteries. These long-lasting, rechargeable batteries solve that problem, while also keeping harmful single-use batteries out of landfills. Plus, they end up saving you money in the long run since each battery replaces 1,000 disposable batteries. I love this starter kit, but you can also buy them individually. ($89.99, Pale Blue)

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laundry detergent
Dirty Labs

My favorite clean laundry detergent that can take on grass stains…

Ditch that unwieldy laundry jug for this plastic-free, nontoxic, EWG-verified liquid laundry alternative that comes in a recyclable aluminum container. The detergent’s advanced enzyme formula stands up to my kids’ grass stains — and leaves their clothes smelling fresh (or unscented, if you’re into that). Don’t forget to wash on cold and save up to $250 a year. ($39, Dirty Labs)

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dishwasher tabs

Space-saving dishwasher tabs…

Did you know that using your dishwasher instead of hand-washing your dishes can save you time, money, and a ton of water? Plus, you’ll be able to reclaim some of that precious storage space under your sink with these powerful and compact dishwasher tabs, which do the job without the bulky container or any plastic packaging. My family uses these and loves them. ($29.99/60 pack, Amazon)

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dryer balls

The cutest alternative for dryer sheets that will save you money…

Dryer sheets are frequently made with plastic, chemicals, and overpowering fragrances — and I can’t say they really work beyond getting caught in my long-sleeve tees. Dryer balls will fluff your clothes faster, and each one is good for over 1,000 loads. These little guys bring me joy every time I turn on my dryer. ($31.50/6 pack, Amazon)

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nontoxic cleaning products
Branch Basics

Nontoxic cleaning products that do the job…

Reducing exposure to toxins in your home can have a huge effect on your health — and it turns out many of the toxins we’re exposed to exist in our cleaning products. This starter kit will replace all your household cleaners and hand soap in one fell swoop — and I can confirm they last forever. ($75, Branch Basics)

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Plastic-free disinfectant wipes

Plastic-free disinfectant wipes with a refillable container…

Traditional multipurpose wipes come in huge plastic containers and are filled with chemicals. These are the first refillable, biodegradable, plant–based, nontoxic wipes that can be used for literally anything. Plus, they’re super stylish. I love using these in my home, and we’re using them in our school’s classrooms, too. ($48.99, Biom)

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bamboo toilet paper

Toilet paper that won’t cut down trees…

Protect the forests and your bum by choosing bamboo or recycled paper toilet paper (unless you’re ready to go all the way and commit to the bidet). My favorites are Reel, Who Gives a Crap, and Amazon’s Aware brand, which is made of 100% bamboo and feels soft while still being FSC-certified and fragrance-free. ($33.24/24 pack, Amazon)

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reusable kitchen towels

Washable, reusable kitchen towels for daily spills…

My family hasn’t ditched all our paper towels, but 99% of the time we use these 100% biodegradable cloths. You could save about $135 in paper towels each year if you swapped out paper towels for these dishcloths, and, if just a quarter of Americans followed suit, we could save over 27 million trees. When they get soggy, just throw them in the dishwasher or washing machine for an easy refresh. ($19.99/10 pack, Amazon)

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stainless steel lunch container

The perfect stainless steel container…

I love this perfectly sized stainless steel container for sandwiches. It’s a few dollars more than a plastic alternative, but I’ve used it every single day in my kids’ lunchboxes so I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. ($37.99, Amazon)

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Compostable garbage bags

Compostable garbage bags that won’t bust…

It took my husband a while to let go of our plastic garbage bags, but once we tried these, there was no going back. These compostable, plant-based kitchen bags leave less plastic in the landfill, and they don’t burst open like other sustainable bags, this I can promise you. ($26.05/40 pack, Amazon)

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Questions or suggestions for what The Cool Down should try or feature next? Reach out to us at And for more tips to live cooler and cleaner, sign up for The Cool Down’s newsletters.

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