By Esme Bourne|
January 12, 2022|
3 mins read
There’s a new bill in town. For the first time, fashion is being held accountable for its role in climate change. Ringing in the New Year with revolutionary and transformative action, New York unveiled the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, more commonly known as the Fashion Act.
At the beginning of January, New York set the trend with the hottest piece of legislation and set out to become the leader of sustainable fashion. Sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and assembly member Dr Anna Kelles, this progressive bill will regulate the notoriously unchecked industry.
The future of fashion must be green. The growing industry continues to pollute, with emissions ever rising. It is estimated that the industry contributes around 4 to 8.6% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and by 2050 fashion could be accountable for more than 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. The exploitation of garment workers, damage of habitats and the throw-away culture that fashion brings, makes it an industry in desperate need of climate action. If the industry won’t morally regulate itself, then it’s time for new laws to be brought in to ensure companies begin to take responsibility for their part in climate change.
This new proposed legislation makes every clothing and footwear brand that does business in New York and has over $100 million in revenue to be held accountable for their impact on the people and planet. Endorsed by green fashion designer Stella McCartney and a coalition of environmentally focused non-profits, including the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, this new bill is a significant step forward for ethical fashion. Iconic brands such as LVMH and Prada and fast fashion brands such as Boohoo will all be held to the same standard of green fashion and supply chain accountability. Soon, in the Big Apple, you can only do business if you are environmentally friendly.
Transparency is at the heart of the new bill. Renowned for their trade secrets, which allow for exploitation and pollution, the new legislation requires the brand to release information on a minimum of 50% of their supply chain, from farms to factories and shipping. Brands are also required to declare the greatest impact on social and environmental health in their supply chain, from fair wages to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. Following the Paris Climate Agreement, the companies then have to disclose how they are going to minimise their impact on the planet and help build a kinder industry for all.
New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, where top apparel and footwear designers set up shop, so it only seems fitting that change begins here. Companies will be given twelve months to comply with the new laws and if they don’t meet the requirements, they will be fined up to 2% of their annual revenue, which will be redirected to environmental justice organisations such as UPROSE.
It means reducing the impact of a brand is not just a moral and ethical responsibility, it will be held accountable by law, ensuring fashion companies stop dragging their heels and begin effective change.
Although new legislation can take years, it remains hopeful that the bill will go through Senate and Assembly committees, with the vote aiming for late spring. Over the next few months, keep up the voice of support through the hashtag #ActOnFashion to raise awareness. Because when New York decides to stop the green-washing and ensure companies are truthfully taking action to mitigate climate change, it means brands across the world will have to comply. This new bill is a positive step forward for sustainable fashion and the planet.