While innovation is key to change, sometimes it requires action that’s a little more hard-hitting to move the needle – especially at the rate our precarious situation demands. Where new, lower-impact materials and processes are a big part of the longterm answer, for now at least they’re still only a suggestion – brands, particularly the big ones, aren’t compelled to change the ways in which they work. And, sometimes, they really do need to be compelled.
That’s where legislation comes in – taking choice out of the equation where for-profit businesses can’t necessarily be trusted to act beyond their own financial interests.
To that end, already in Europe we’ve seen new laws pressuring the fashion industry to do better – laws like a ban on the destruction of unsold clothes and a crackdown on greenwashing, designed to curb environmentally disastrous and (at best) morally dubious practices.
Now, though, following other recent moves to ban the sale of furs, extend producer responsibility, and cut down on plastic waste, California has passed a new bill to force the hands of brands and manufacturers into full transparency.
The bill, catchily known as SB 253, was designed to push large-scale organizations to own their impact and – in doing so – take responsibility for reducing it. Having now made its way through the California State Assembly, passing on a vote of 41-20, SB 253 – which is not limited to the fashion industry and “could require most large U.S. companies to disclose their full value chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” – will now return to the Senate, where it previously passed in May of this year, before landing in the in-tray of Governor Newsom for final sign-off.
The United States legal system is complex, however, and it’s worth noting that a not-dissimilar bill passed in the Senate but failed in the Assembly. Still, SB 253 is already a step ahead of its predecessor and that leaves room for optimism about the outcome this time around.
The results are likely to be interesting and – in all honesty – potentially somewhat frightening. Even impact reports from organizations already committed to change in the ways they work can come with some pretty terrifying data attached – let alone the ones which, until now, haven’t considered that a priority. But, nevertheless, progress is still progress – even if it’s under protest.