On a High Note: New York State Regulates Fashion's Environmental Impacts

New York State Regulates Fashion's Environmental Impacts

The state of New York may implement a radical new law to regulate the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act would require NY-based brands with over $100 million in total revenue to report their social and environmental costs of doing business. And refusing to comply could cost companies up to 2% of total revenue in fines.

This could be huge. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful and carbon-intensive sectors, responsible for about 10% of global GHG emissions and 20% of wastewater. Moreover, fashion media urges readers to keep buying new clothes, despite impacts on climate. Most of the emissions and pollution arise within the supply chain, where raw materials are processed and dyed. A recent study found that fast-fashion textile factories are polluting African rivers.

The New York fashion bill doesn't necessarily take these concerns into consideration -- businesses only have to disclose 50% of their supply chain. Fast-fashion expert Emma Cline told WW0 last year:

Most of the carbon impact of clothing happens in factories that make yarns and textiles and on farms that grow fibers, many of which are in emerging nations. If we want to decarbonize fashion, major brands and high-income nations like the US have an obligation to help fund the transition along the entire supply chain and not just in their own backyard.

The private sector is also starting to do its part. Swedish company Klarna introduced its "Sustainable Collection" that rates 23 brands based on their willingness to change their policies to become more eco-friendly.

Climate Action: Fast Fashion Is Hot Garbage, September 23, 2021.

BOF: Unpacking Fashion's Role in Slowing Global Warming, August 13, 2021.