Online Feature

Finding a Common Thread: Enacting Federal Legislation to Curb Greenwashing in the Fashion Industry and Protect American Consumers

Elena M. Boushee

The fashion industry is at an environmental crossroads. United States consumers are demanding increased transparency from fashion companies regarding their impact on the environment. While consumer interest in sustainable fashion is on the rise, there is a simultaneous increase in demand for more clothing at lower price points. Despite industry and consumer focus on sustainability, there is no uniform, standardized rating system or certification scheme that provides consumers with clarity or certainty regarding environmental claims. This leaves consumers swimming in a sea of competing claims based on differing methodologies, left to sort out for themselves which claims are true and which are misleading.

To solve this growing problem, the United States government should legislatively mandate fashion companies doing business in the United States to meet specific minimum standards in order to be able to make claims about the environmental impact of their operations.

This Act should draw from the Higg Index to create a standardized framework for gathering and processing environmental impact data. It should also draw from the OEKO-TEX labeling system to allow consumers to view sustainability data at the point of purchase. The FTC should be empowered to enforce the provisions of this Act.