Distressing Clothing Trends

Distressing Clothing Trends

Have you heard these distressing clothing trends…

  • There has been a 400% increase in clothing purchases in the last 20 years in America. With the increase of “Fast Fashion” there are now 14 trend cycles each year.
  • The average person donates 12 pounds of clothing per year, but only 10 to 20% is sold in thrift stores. The remainder is sold to wholesalers.
  • An average American throws out 80 pounds of clothing each year. That is 13 million tons or 6% of our landfill space.
  • Synthetic fibers do not biodegrade and they leach chemicals into the environment. However any clothing made of materials other than natural fibers will not biodegrade.
  • The Washington DC area landfills spend about $49 per ton to dump clothing. That adds up to $1.3 million a year.
  • Almost 100% of the clothing that is discarded can be recycled.
There has been a 400% increase in clothing purchases in the last 20 years in America. Click To Tweet

I learned all these clothing trends at a recent presentation given by Kaveri Marathe, the leader of a new start-up called Texiles. Kaveri is working to change this trend by offering door-to-door clothing pick up service that accepts clothing in any condition and has it reused or recycled. They are currently picking up in only Washington DC. Please check out the Texiles web site and see how you can make a difference.

In addition, you might like to watch this related video by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight.


Basic Organization provides organizing services for families, busy professionals, seniors and home-based business owners. Our passion is helping people achieve peace and simplicity in their lives by organizing homes, routines and lifestyles. Let our team of personal organizers help you regain control of your environment by organizing the living and storage areas of your home, including the garage, kitchen, basement, office, bedrooms and closets.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Janet Barclay on October 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Those are really eye-opening statistics! It’s good to know there are people out there who are trying to do something about it. I’ve seen some lovely pieces at craft fairs made from recycled fibers.

    • Janet Schiesl on October 11, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Yes Janet. I was surprised at the statistics. Even though you do your part and donate used clothing, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Got to change things at the source and curb the impulse to buy.

      • Janet Barclay on October 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm

        I do pretty well on that front. I’m not a big shopper. 🙂

  2. Pam Mirehouse on October 13, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    What a great idea. Very needed in our consumer society. Sad that it has reached such horrible heights. The statistics speak volumes on the availability of stuff no one really needs!

    • Janet Schiesl on October 14, 2017 at 6:59 am

      I agree Pam. We need to find a way to teach people how to consciously shop.

  3. Zara Brown on January 5, 2018 at 5:08 am

    I really appreciate your post about distressing clothing trends. I am totally agree with you because you have raised some interesting points here and those are very little known to most of us. the blog is absolutely fantastic. I think it’s useful for many those who are looking for such info, keep it up.!

    • Janet Schiesl on January 5, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Thanks for the comment Zara. I learned a lot during Kaveri Marathe’s presentation. We need to work on improving how we purchase and discard clothing.

  4. […] it what it was consuming… consuming more and more and more. I recently wrote about some distressing clothing trends that lays it out pretty clearly. If you want to change your shopping habits, look at it as just […]

  5. Kristin Zucaro on February 1, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Very eye opening. Thanks for sharing these statistics – awareness of the sheer volume and cost of this is step 1 to changing our behavior to be more sustainable!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      You are exactly right. Awareness is the first step to less consumption.

  6. Gina Weatherup on February 1, 2021 at 8:34 am

    14 trend cycles in 12 months! Whoa – I wonder what impact covid may be having on that right now. Related, I have been looking for ways to recycle clothing that’s not in a state to be donated (I have a child who loves to paint, and often they’re not watercolors). The only place I’ve found is that I can drop clothes off at H&M. I know the Eileen Fisher company also recycles old clothes into new clothes. We definitely need more clothing recycling options, though shopping less would be a great start!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      Gina, yes it all starts with shopping less. I believe that you can drop off unsellable clothes at places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Just mark the bag “rags”. These days those large charity stores sell everything they receive. A lot of it goes overseas.

  7. Seana Turner on February 1, 2021 at 10:22 am

    I’ve seen great improvements in options for clothing. Upscale options like The Real Real, but also simple bins at our transfer station to accept textiles for recycling. Keeping Linda’s post in mind, these stats make me AWARE of how this problem has mushroomed, and the fact that we all can do better. Let’s reduce, recycle, and reuse clothing as much as possible. I know this year in particular, I’ve hardly needed much wardrobe at all!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:08 pm

      Me too. I’ve gotten a ton of use out of my yoga pants!

  8. Sabrina Quairoli on February 1, 2021 at 10:23 am

    WOW! Those stats are concerning. My kids’ generation (Gen Z) has been so very conscious of the environment and their social responsibility. So much so, they all go to consignment and second-hand places to buy their clothing. Then, they recycle or donate the other clothing to Goodwill. It allows them to still buy clothing without contributing to the fast fashion out there. I think it is wonderful. I hope the trends continues for them and well as other generations.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      I’ve seen similar activity with my sons. One has gone to a capsule wardrobe. He wears a uniform for work and the other is still wearing clothing from 10 and 15 years ago. He also wears a uniform for work. I think that makes it easier to focus on buying less. You don’t need work clothes.

  9. Linda Samuels on February 1, 2021 at 11:12 am

    The fact that clothing recycling is a trend is good news. I wonder what the stats look like for 2020. With so many people not working or working remotely, I’m curious how that has affected the clothing industry. I suspect that people bought a lot fewer clothes. Perhaps that translated into manufacturers making fewer clothes.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      I wonder too. Although I bet a lot more yoga pants were purchased and with all the stretchy material they aren’t recyclable.

  10. Julie Bestry on February 1, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Fascinating statistics. I’ve hardly bought any clothes in the last 20 years, and the ones I do, I wear to death. And I don’t think I’ve ever thrown clothing out! Then again, nobody would ever call me fashionable, as I live in a wardrobe of jeans and V-neck T-shirts. I will definitely bear these statistics in mind when working with clients.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 1, 2021 at 2:02 pm

      I’m not a big shopper either, but more than you Julie. I do wear a uniform for work so that cuts down on the amount of personal clothes I have. I like it that way.

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