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You Won't Believe How Many Pieces of Clothing Americans Throw Out in a Lifetime

Are you guilty of this bad habit?

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Every year, Americans will toss out at least 10 items of clothing—or 600 pieces over the course of a lifetime—according to a recent survey by Trunk Club, a Chicago-based personal styling service. The main reasons we’re ditching clothing: shrinkage, discoloring, and damage. 

 

Not only is it a bummer to have to part with your beloved cotton sweater because it snagged in the dryer, but tossing out clothing items is a major drain on our wallets and on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, discarded clothing makes up the largest amount of total municipal textile waste which was a whopping 10.5 million tons in 2015. Other sources of textile waste include towels, carpeting, and furniture.  

 

RELATED: A Guide to Caring and Cleaning Everything in Your Closet

 

And while, in most cases, clothing defects like shrinkage and discoloring can be avoided by following the care tags instructions, the survey also found that 43 percent of us are barely reading these—or not reading them at all. As for people who actually followed those wash and dry dos and don’ts? Only 21 percent of Americans stick to the rules.  

 

RELATED: Why France Banned Retailers From Throwing Out Unsold Clothes

 

"We were amazed to learn how much people are over-laundering their garments, especially those made of quality fabrics,” said Maggie Mee, head of merchandising for Trunk Club, who conducted the survey as part of their new campaign, Caring for Clothing. “We lose an incredible 600 pieces of clothing in our lifetime because we don't properly care for them. When in doubt, always look at the clothing care tag first.”

 

RELATED: Clothes Out of Landfills at These In-Store Recycling Programs

 

As for the top fabrics that send Americans into a panic when it comes to clothing care according to the survey’s results, silk was number one followed by cashmere, suede, leather, and clothing with sequins. But this doesn’t mean you have to avoid adding these items to your wardrobe. Follow our expert guide to cleaning, caring, and organizing everything in your closet—so you can stay stylish and sustainable.