Coming Clean With Fashion: Our Sustainable Mission


Has anyone else been blown away by the kids — worldwide — who participated in the climate strike  Friday? It was the largest global demonstration ever — 163 different countries ranging from Afghanistan to Australia. The photos tell a truly moving story, so if you haven’t seen Vox’s worldwide photo coverage of the event, it’s one that gave me allll the feels. There’s a sense of worldwide connectedness that I don’t ever remember seeing (or feeling) before. It feels a little like hope.

At the moment, over here at TME, we’re facing our own internal conflict: our moral imperative as a fashion blog in the context of our human-made climate crisis.

We’ve touched on this topic before, but…it’s tricky! We’re forever trying to balance sustainable products (which are typically more expensive) with the budget-friendly ones. We’re trying to balance our outfit-idea generation with our ‘shopping enabler’ nickname — which, frankly, is why many of you come here. For every “Shop Your Closet” article we publish, there’s always plenty of readers asking for shoppable links. And frankly, we want to be an inclusive, supportive place — not an elitist one.

Soooo…yeah. We’re all well aware of this conflict, over here at TME, but like most of the industry, it’s difficult to change our approach to the fashion industry when the industry itself isn’t changing. (In her next Unpacking post, Lex is going to touch on why exactly, change has been so difficult for the fashion industry…but, suffice to say… it’s COMPLICATED.)  

And while I can easily argue (and have) that The Mom Edit has always been focused on helping people get more out of their existing wardrobes (most of our articles could simply be used for ideas, not shopping)…we all wanted to do something more intentional. Because the reality is…things are starting to change. There are fashion brands out there making clothes in a much cleaner and greener way. AND…oh happy day…many of these brands are ALREADY ones we know and love (like Adidas! Surprised? ME TOO).

So after weeks (and weeks!!) of research, I’m thrilled to announce…

The Mom Edit’s Sustainable Style Page!

Our Sustainable Style Page contains everything we know (or have produced) to support a more sustainable approach to fashion and lifestyle. We’ve rounded up a list of all articles we’ve ever written on sustainable style. These articles include ‘Shop Your Closet’ posts (in case you simply want new ideas for existing pieces), articles featuring sustainable brands or products, as well as a few on sustainability itself (like how to recycle clothes instead of throwing them out). 

Additionally, the page contains a Sustainable Style Shopping index (with product recommendations!!). If you do want to shop for something new, but you want to shop more responsibly, THIS is our highly edited list of brands, retailers and products that we’d recommend.

What this means going forward: You’ll be seeing many more ‘Shop Your Closet’ type of articles. More ideas on how to wear items you already own. We’ll be covering more secondhand stores than we have previously (ThreadUP, for example) and our favorite clothing rental subscriptions. We’re also going to try and do a much better job of educating you (and ourselves) about which brands and retailers have also committed to creating sustainable products. (And the best part? Many are brands or retailers we already love.) 

What this DOESN’T mean: Everything is changing and we’ll never focus on fast fashion again. Nope. We’re not even abandoning our ‘shopping enabler’ moniker. Neither are we abandoning our core value of inclusivity. All are welcome at The Mom Edit — no matter your budget or proclivity for fast fashion.  We’re just trying to create a better balance. 

And, quite frankly, slowing down before you make a purchase, being really picky about what you buy — even if your purchase is fast fashion — is a strategy that’s good for ALL of us.  We want you to love what you’ve bought. Returning readers (that’s you!!) are the core of our business here at TME, and why we take our recommendations so seriously. 

TRUTH: this is going to be — it is — a convoluted process. You should’ve see Lex and I, hunched over our old school notebooks, pens scribbling, hashing out what constitutes “good enough” to deem a company (or its products) sustainable. It’s hard. Some companies are strong in overall sustainable practices (like Adidas), while others produce earth-friendlier products by establishing water-saving or chemical waste goals (like AG). It’s messy. There’s a lot of trust involved, because there is, quite frankly, a lack of transparency. Transparency is key to really knowing if a company or its products are actually sustainable. 

So. We’re weeding through this whole sustainable fashion (aka circular fashion, earth-friendlier fashion, low-impact fashion) with you. We have some resources here, and Lex is providing more in Unpacking, because you may have to do some digging. We are not experts (nor can we play them on TV). We have to trust the companies (and the media) that the retailers, brands, and products highlighted are as sustainable as their words (and pictures) tell us they are. 

 The Mom Edit’s Approach To Sustainable Fashion

Here’s where we stand: we care about transparency. Transparency in terms of sustainability is like honesty in a relationship. It’ll be harder for us to support or promote a brand as eco-friendly if their actions are unclear or they engage in greenwashing (making unsubstantiated claims about their earth-friendliness).

We care about actual actions. Goals are nice, and we support those, but we want to see retailers or brands who’ve taken actual steps towards earth-friendliness, in addition to forward-facing goals. If we don’t call out a brand as sustainable, it’s either because we don’t know (remember, we’re not experts) or because we haven’t been able to verify their claims. Feel free to share with us if you have, though.

We care about sustainable labor practices — meaning ethical labor practices, actions that protect women, who happen to make up the vast majority of garment workers. We know it may seem fuzzy how this connects to the climate crisis — it’s one of the reasons the Green New Deal is so controversial, in the way it links social justice — but a fast fashion model inherently relies on paying low wages, high-output (often only possible when unsafe labor practices are involved), a lack of transparency (brands or designers not knowing where or how their garments are being produced), and a high-risk of harassment, abuse or potential harm to the workers  — basically nothing that’s good for the planet. 

Keep in mind, sustainability isn’t our only value. We also care about diversity and inclusivity — DUH. We like brands that feature models with hair colors other than blonde. We embrace retailers that feature up to size 24 or make an entire plus-size line. We forgot about Kate Moss, and we support brands who moved on from idolizing her body type (so ’90s). AND we prefer women on web pages to reflect the actual population of women on the planet — not just those from places like, uh….Norway (no offense to any of you gorgeous Scandinavians…or Cam, haha).

You will see some changes to the blog. A lot of these will include simply identifying if and when we consider an item or brand sustainable (OR eco-friendly OR earth-friendlier…or whatever other moniker comes into play). We’ll be throwing out terms (as we learn them ourselves), and becoming more intentional with our content.

We’re starting with education and familiarity. We’re starting with brands we know and love, and with upselling and re-using services we’ve all been hearing about; we’ve already been tackling recycling clothes, read that here and here. We’re scoping out and analyzing the extent to which suppliers are truth-telling, and engaging in a healthy dose of skepticism about greenwashing. 

Getting Started With Sustainable Fashion

To start with, Vestiaire Collective has identified seven facets of circular fashion. So, if we mention something is sustainable, it most likely fits into one of the categories below. Sometimes these categories overlap, sometimes a product or brand does a couple of of these things well, and sometimes we don’t know more than This Product Fits Into One Category. SO, bear with us, and by all means, feel free to HELP.

  • on-demand and custom-made
  • green and clean;
  • ethical and fair;
  • high quality and timeless design;
  • repair, redesign and upcycle;
  • rent, swap and lease; or
  • secondhand and vintage.

5 Resources For Understanding Eco-Friendly Fashion Now

1. Know Your Labels

CONSCIOUS FASHION LABELS AND CERTIFICATIONS —  This page by the Conscious Fashion Collective is the best ad-free page. You can also check out the Sustainability Certification Guide by Apparel Entrepreneurship.

2. Understand Transparency

Fashion Transparency Index 2019 by Fashion Revolution — We HEART this resource. Produced annually by Fashion Revolution, it’s super-thorough. Keep in mind that not all companies actually complete the survey that makes them eligible to be scored, and that when we say a company is transparent, that means in relation to other fashion companies — the highest scores are still in the 60-70 percent range (Adidas, Esprit, Reebok, Levi’s, Patagonia and H&M are the highest scoring for transparency). 

3. Avoid Trashing Your Textiles

During the past year, we at The Mom Edit have published two guides to avoid throwing away your textiles: the 2019 guide is here, and the 2018 guide is here. Retailer recycling programs do change, so it’s worth your due diligence to check. The main thing to remember is that clothing waste is toxic, and putting clothes into landfills is just not to be done.

4. Educate Yourself On the 7 Facets of Circular Fashion

Download Vestiaire Collective’s Circular Fashion Guide – The link is not obvious, it’s about halfway down the page in a small box. If you’re doing one of these seven things: on-demand and custom-made; green and clean; ethical and fair; high quality and timeless design; repair, redesign and upcycle; rent, swap and lease; or secondhand and vintage, you’re doing better than the traditional fast fashion model.

5. Learn More & Keep Track of Ethics In Fashion

EDGE — provides a magazine-style look at the paradigm shift from irresponsible, excessive production and consumption to one of environmental and ethical consciousness, cultural sensitivity, and storytelling.  E D G E, the acronym of Emerging Designers Get Exposed, gives a voice to emerging designers [all across the globe] who are exhibiting design excellence in artistry, cultural significance, and sustainability. They are putting a cultural face, purpose, and environmental conscious to fashion.  While exposing and elevating this curated design talent,  E D G E fosters a global network of fashion industry professionals, educators, and the arts.

We’re so grateful to have you on this journey with us. We can’t state enough how much we look forward to you sharing with us, as much as we’ll be sharing with you. This is one commitment we’ve no choice but to stick to….



  1. LOVE that you are doing this!!! I also so appreciate the reality and balance necessary in changing how we approach fashion…we’re not all going to suddenly become perfect consumers overnight. One thing that I’ve thought a lot about that I appreciate getting tips on – what things are worth the investment? Ie I see so many new trends and I’ve really tried to work on fewer, high quality buys that I can get really great cost per wear on and not be constantly buying new stuff. But it’s not always obvious to me what cool fresh pieces/trends are going to stick around for a few years and really give me that and which ones will be here one season and donated the next!

  2. One of the biggest changes I’ve made lately is shopping almost exclusively at consignment stores. I’m lucky in that I have two nicer ones near me where I can find amazing designer labels and trendy items. There’s also a great selection of vintage pieces as well. It’s a bonus that it’s sustainable fashion, but my favorite part is being able to offset some of the costs by consigning items I don’t love and being able to get great items at a fraction of the cost (like
    “$900+ worth of clothes for $175” fraction — I love to add up the actual costs of things). Also, I love finding older, but timeless pieces that are really quality fabric and construction. Even pieces from the early 2000s are often made so much better.

    What I do, is keep a trend or idea list on my phone and then look for pieces that fit those looks. I’m able to get things that are fresh and new (not out of date) and I feel like I really create a style that’s all my own and different than what everyone else is doing.

    I do get items tailored if they are almost right, but not perfect.

    It’s hard for me to go back to paying retail prices when I get get a brand new Rag and Bone silk blouse for $40 or an Alice and Olivia jacket for $65.

    I should add, I had a fairly decent closet to begin with, so I’m adding pieces to supplement a solid wardrobe, but I think, with a bit of work, I could do a whole wardrobe of second hand clothes.

    Lastly, I only use Poshmark if I’ve tried on a piece and need it in a different size or if it’s an item I’ve tried on in retail. It’s just too difficult to tell if something will look good on and there are so many tiny factors that go into a piece being perfect or being a disaster that I’m reluctant to be stuck with something that looks terrible on me. I have had good luck with Poshmark for shoes.

    Bottom line, it’s a great way to shop with much less guilt — from a plant and a budget standpoint.

  3. I love this SO, so, so, so MUCH!!! I’ve been shifting away from fast fashion in recent years, both for environmental concerns and quality issues. For me, even if a top is only $20, if it fades, stretches and pills after 2 wears, that’s $20 bucks down the drain. Lately, I’ve been buying less items overall but spending more per piece, trying to buy only things I love that come from responsible brands. I am not perfectly compliant in these goals, but it’s a journey, right? Thanks so much for doing this, TME team!

  4. I love this. I’m making a big effort to shop secondhand, or if not, to only buy more sustainable fabrics. One great resource I’ve found is Material World, which offers a curated box service like StitchFix, but it’s secondhand designer clothing. Really fun and a great way to shop secondhand when I can’t get to my local consignment or thrift shops.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I’ve been following TME for about a year now and love the content! But this…this is one of the most important topics to date. Thank you for being committed to this initiative. You have a special and unique platform to reach many people on this issue and I so glad you are providing resources, teaching, and raising awareness! As you said- the fashion industry is complex and there is no perfect solution as of yet. But change is happening and I for one am happy to support (and jump on) the sustainable fashion bandwagon. Cheers!

  6. Yes! ❤️This! Please please check out “the conscious closet” by Elizabeth Cline. It was released this month and it covers all facets of how to build a sustainable wardrobe!

  7. Wow, I have been enjoying your website for years, but I have never been so moved to comment! I am a quantitative analyst for an investment firm primarily focusing on adding ESG (environmental, social, governance) and “impact” (from climate to the circular economy and more) to our products. I was blown away by how you mentioned transparency – this is 100% so so so true and I feel like is something that you only realize after days of digging through data. Kudos to you all for being so thoughtful. I do not consider myself an expert either – this is an emerging field and I am actually pretty excited about reading some of the links you have here. We all have a lot of work to do, but this is SO in the right direction.

  8. Yes, yes, yes, this is exactly what I’ve been wanting. Great job “reading” your readers!
    I recently came across a company that can customize their online dresses and was wondering if they qualify; have you heard of eshakti?
    Also, I hope you’ll be including kids clothing. I did a bunch of reading about it about a year ago and came up with two brands that I use for most of my kids wardrobe. Art and Eden, they are organic fabric and meet a lot of your other standards (but I buy their old season items via amazon at about half price) and Hanna Andersson because they use mostly OEKO-TEX fabrics and you can return an item if it wears down or gets a hole. They send you a new one and you send them the old one so they can analyze it for defects and improvements.


    I think you can have Shop Your Closet posts with some links to Items to buy for those that don’t have them. I would also love to see some planning posts- I’m all about being intentional with what I buy, so I think some posts about how to shop with your current closet in mind, curating colors/sillouettes, how to pair down your closet, etc would be great!

    You should check out Brass Clothing- they are amazing women focusing on core clothes you love. They’re all about supporting each other and have a goal to expand and be inclusive (which is slow growing). I also like Vetta for their multi-way items in lovely tencel. I have issues with Everlane, but they got some good stuff. Check out: Hackwith Design House, Alice Alexander Co, and The Tiny Closet Shop.

  10. I’ve been doing a rental service for 3 years. It’s really fun as well as eco friendly. I hardly ever have to buy a limited wear item. I encourage others to check one out!

  11. Love it. I get great ideas about shopping my own closet even from your posts that are not specifically that. Is the idea of a TME resale site/link too ambitious?

  12. Yess!!! Bravo. I *love* fashion and clothes, but my awareness of the impact has made any “carefree” feelings impossible. So much good content to dig into here. One small thing I’ve been trying to do is in-store pick-ups and returns. By seeing if it’s in a nearby store, I have to really want it to go get it (vs. the ease and environmental impact of having it shipped.) And often, I go in and try it on and realize it’s not right – so I’ve cut down on *two* shipments (the delivery and the return.) Thank you for this – I understand how large and complex the issue is, and appreciate your acknowledgement and efforts.

  13. Freaking hooray for this!

    I have been really curious about the experience of those who have tried to sell their own used clothing/shoes on sites like Poshmark. I donate all used items to Goodwill, but sometimes a little extra money from that lightly used RK bag would be nice…but I don’t know if the time and effort are worth it.

    Also, although Goodwill says you can donate items in any condition, I am often too embarrassed to throw my husband’s stained tees in with the bag of otherwise gently used, high quality items. And what about other textiles like towels? (I have more homemade rags than I’ll ever be able to handle…)

    So looking forward to learning more! Thank you team TME

  14. Hey. Great news on the sustainability front! Thank you!

    I do have one concern, though. Please also do the math on ordering online and having things delivered vs shopping locally. I know that somehow those things also had to get to the stores, but at least there isn’t a back-and-forth with items one decided not to keep. A well-curated and though through closet is great, but should start before pressing the “add to cart” button. Just a thought, ladies. ?

  15. Love this! We recently moved to Vienna, Austria, and the difference in how easy it is to recycle most of our waste blows me away. They have bins for recycling worn-out clothing all over the place (as well as bins for paper, plastic, glass, compostables, and metal) and right next to them in many places is a bin for donating gently used clothing to Caritas. I love shopping ThredUp for clothing for the kids and me, but have not found it as worthwhile to send in most of our clothing for them to resell unless it’s a high-end label. Having the option to donate things that are still useful and recycle worn out textiles only a couple of blocks from my house makes it almost silly not to do it.

    I look forward to seeing more of the new focus on sustainability, and to learning along with you how to be a more conscious consumer (or re-purposer)!

  16. I am really happy you are doing this. I have been struggling to buy less (I love clothes!) and retire, re-sell and store more. I admit to looking at rentals or just buying fewer and better things. But I would love to see ideas on re-sell and storing too. Keep the great ideas coming.

  17. I’m so happy you’re doing this. The past few years, I’ve been trying to focus on ethically produced items, mainly in terms of safe labor practices but eco-friendly is a huge bonus. Sometimes it feels like a big convoluted mess that I don’t want to navigate, but I know that any effort towards supporting with my dollars what I support morally/ethically is a step in the right direction. This blog (well, Ain’t No Mom Jeans actually!) prodded me in that direction with your thoughts on cost-per-wear and purchasing fewer things that you truly love and wear and some of the brands that you’ve focused on. I still buy random things on a whim at Target, but I am much more willing to purchase fewer, slightly higher-end products (my budget is fairly low!) and to add to my wardrobe more intentionally.

    Also, I LOVE Sue’s idea about a TME resale site… Or a Facebook group. I’d totally even head that up.

  18. So excited about this! I’ve been slowly putting together a list of sustainable retailers to focus on after my Great Year of No Clothes Shopping, but this article will be a hugely useful resource for me. It’s true that lots of places call themselves “sustainable” without necessarily explaining what that means, so it’s great to have all these links to come back to!

    I’d love to see reviews of clothing rental companies. I’ve looked into a few (and have done Rent the Runway for special occasions for years now) but I trust the opinions I see here.

  19. This is all kinds of awesome TME!!!! I have been with you since the beginning Shana, and I love that you are always keeping things current. I would add sites like Poshmark are awesome for this purpose. I am an active posher because I am helping someone literally overcome a shopping addiction, and I will say the downside is there’s a lot of sub-par quality stuff out there. Hard to sift through it all to find the good sometimes. Maybe it TME had a list of vetted reader/poshers? Or their own version of that with a TME swap site? So many ideas!! Here is a link to my posh site, you can delete it if needed I’m really not trying to be promotional, but lots of folks like me swapping or happily buying clothes from one another is a cool concept, IMO. ?

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