Go Back to School with Style and Sustainability

Who says your “back to school” wardrobe has to be boring?

By Laura Madden

With September here, many of us have back-to-school fall fashion on our minds. And such was the case for Tess Loo, chief fashion officer and visual merchandiser for My Sister’s Closet in Scottsdale. Chief Fashion Officer and Visual Merchandiser, Tess Loo, who directed the wardrobe and styling for our Recycled Fashion feature. The fall season may act as an opportunity to start something new, but no matter what the season, we at Green Living and My Sister’s Closet have got sustainability on our minds, as well as dressing for our best life.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Tess to do an in-store fitting at the My Sister’s Closet (MSC) Lincoln Village location in Scottsdale. In styling the looks for this shoot, she made lightning- quick decisions, clearly guided by her intuitive and impeccable eye — a true artist and creative genius at work. The fashions shown are part of their recent fall unveiling and are currently available at their Lincoln Village location.

If you haven’t shopped their recycled designer boutiques, you must; they are a fixture in the Valley, taking consignment shopping to another level. Each of their four Arizona locations offers what they refer to as a ‘cute, current and clean’ resale experience (I concur), and what I refer to as a fashion and earth-loving girl’s dream.


You can responsibly dispose of your unwanted clothing by selling them to consignment boutiques like MSC, or donating them to an organization that can properly recycle them. Textile waste in a landfill is extremely damaging to the planet; it produces harmful gases, such as methane, as it eventually breaks down.


I want to emphasize the environmental importance of investing in clothing from a consignment shop, such as MSC. If you love fashion and you want to do what’s best for the environment, shop second-hand. The most sustainable shopping you can do is to purchase clothing that has already been made because the resources have already been used.


Second-hand shopping lightens the load on the environment in a very significant way. By shopping at consignment, vintage or thrift stores you are extending the life cycle of such clothing, which ultimately reduces the amount of textile waste entering landfills, and slows down the demand for newer, faster, cheaper clothing.

The 2018 City of Phoenix Waste Characterization study outlined that textiles make up 2.05% or 2,436 tons in our recycle stream. Unfortunately textiles are not accepted in Phoenix recycle bins.


Consider the end-life of your clothes. Before you make that next purchase, ask yourself what will you do with it when you are done with it? Give it away? Swap? Donate? Consign? Throwing our unwanted clothing in the trash (or even our recycling bin) is not an option. Keep in mind, the better quality of the clothing we invest in, the more likely it is to be resold by a store like MSC.

I also want to emphasize the style savvy part of investing in second-hand clothing. Each of the looks Tess has styled for this shoot is impeccably put together and right on trend for fall. Does it at all appear that style, sass or coolness was lacking? Nope. You are exactly right! Let this be your proof that you can maintain a current, super stylish wardrobe without having to buy brand new. Also, I can convey from plenty of experience that shopping at a MSC boutique is a lot more fun than a trip to the mall!

The clothing industry is still one of the biggest worldwide polluters, after the oil industry and electricity production. Let’s change this! By voting with our dollars and shopping in a more sustainable way, we can change the direction this is going and positively affect the state of the planet. Production will always follow demand. By purchasing pre-loved fashions, you are decreasing the demand on the fashion industry to produce faster, cheaper clothing. Exercise your right to vote with your dollars. It is a powerful movement that can change the world.

Stay tuned for further details on how you can reduce fashion waste and how to properly dispose of unwanted textiles and clothing with the City of Phoenix.

Why is clothing not accepted in the City of Phoenix recycle bins?

Textiles and clothing can clog the machinery in the recycling facility. The facility is forced to stop operations two to three times per day (about half an hour each time) to cut bags, clothing, and other unacceptable material that may have jammed the machinery.

Know City of Phoenix Recycling:

  • There are two recycling facilities
  • Each facility processes about 250 tons of recyclables per day
  • The city produces about 1 million tons of waste annually (recycling + trash)
  • The city has one active landfill located in Buckeye, expected to last 100 years

Tell us what you want:

Would you utilize a curbside textiles pickup to responsibly recycle unwanted clothes and other textiles?

Contact City of Phoenix Public Works Department or Reimagine Phoenix


Thank you to Tess Loo and My Sister’s Closet for providing the featured clothing and styling, and to the City of Phoenix Public Works Dept. for providing the location. All images were shot under supervision at the City of Phoenix North Gateway Transfer Station.

Laura Madden is a fashion advocate, model, and creator of Laura Madden Lifestyle, a lifestyle brand and blog that inspires a life of style, sustainability and self-esteem. Visit laura-madden.com and follow her on Instagram @lmlifestylist for sustainable shopping tips and her sustainable fashion finds.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.