Legislation emerges for U.S. fashion industry

by Nicole Tutino –

Photo: Ekaterina Bolovtsova via Pexels.com

Laws can help enforce ethical and sustainable actions by fashion brands in their supply chain and distribution processes.

Garment factory conditions often conflict with workers’ safety, due to long working hours, health effects and unstable building structures. 

In 2022, the Garment Worker Protection Act was enacted in California. The state law prohibits the piece rate payment system which refers to wages distributed based on the number of apparel pieces a worker creates. Piece rate compensation often fails to provide garment workers with sufficient income.

Recently, The Business of Fashion reported that California-based manufacturers of apparel brands failed to meet the garment worker compensation requirements of the state’s laws. 

New York may join California with the state’s own fashion-related legislation.

Originally proposed in 2021, The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act requires sustainability and ethical workplace practices for brands operating or selling products in New York.

According to The New York State Senate, the bill features “due diligence” requirements that detail solutions to combat unethical practices within the fashion industry impacting workers’ rights and the environment.

The section’s facets include supply chain transparency, which refers to the identification of suppliers used in apparel production to understand working conditions and the origins of materials used. Although the bill does not require all levels of suppliers to be completely reported, the increased legal supervision intends to restrict unethical actions.

Environmental requirements relate to fashion companies’ developing plans to restrict their involvement in climate change through limited greenhouse gas emissions and the disclosure of the brands’ emissions.

Fashion brands that receive an income of at least 100 million dollars each year will be required to adhere to the act’s guidelines. With about 900 apparel brands housed in New York City, the bill’s reach can be widespread. According to the New York Fashion Act, brands failing to comply with the bill can “be fined up to 2% of annual revenues.”

Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and Reformation, which are apparel brands known for valuing sustainable efforts, are among the supporters of the bill. 

Currently, the bill remains under review by the New York State Senate and General Assembly committees and will require the committees’, houses’ and governor’s approval prior to becoming a law.

While legislation for fashion sustainability shows growth, the laws’ effects are limited to a specific state. 

With more proposed environmental and worker protection legislation emerging in states, lawmakers begin creating a consistent methodology to identify unethical brands and create pathways to federal and global regulations.

Uncertain future of menstrual-tracking apps in Virginia

by Cyna Mirzai-

Photo credit: Burst

Almost one-third of women in the United States use a mobile app to track their periods. However, a bill to protect menstrual app data from search warrants failed the Virginia General Assembly in February, alarming abortion rights supporters for a future of post-Roe abortion restrictions. 

The state’s Democrat-controlled Senate passed a bill to prohibit the issuance of a warrant for the search and seizure of menstrual health data stored on electronic devices, allowing people to protect personal information about their menstrual health. According to AP News, the legislation passed with a 31-9 vote, with nine Republicans joining Democrats to send it to the House. Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who introduced a 15-week abortion ban early this year, tabled the bill through a procedural move in a Republican-controlled subcommittee.

Inspired by the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, introduced the legislation since current laws allow search warrants to be issued for access to all data stored on computers, computer networks and other electronic devices as long as there is a probable cause for a crime. 

Before the repeal of Roe v. Wade, an abortion could be performed up until the third trimester of a patient’s pregnancy in Virginia. Therefore, if a person stopped tracking their cycle on an app due to a terminated pregnancy, there would be no probable cause for a crime. However, as stricter abortion laws continue to pass in various states, these tracking apps can become the scene of a crime.  

Sen. Favola said her bill is straightforward and one of the shortest bills of the Senate’s season, per WUSA 9. She will wait until the election of a new General Assembly in 2023 to try for the bill again.

While this can remain an alarming time for many, there are still ways to protect one’s personal information. The Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance last year encouraging people to turn off location sharing and tracking activity across apps. Some tracking apps also state they do not share or sell data, but if weary, creating a personalized menstrual data tracker by using spreadsheets, digital planners or even paper planners will aid in concealing personal information.

Blacksburg town attorney speaks on The Sandman, Weirdoughs’ gridlock

by Ben Walls –

Larry Spencer, who serves as Blacksburg’s town attorney, says that Delaware business developer Joseph Boss has failed to properly provide necessary information for opening a bar and pizza restaurant named The Sandman and Weirdoughs, respectively.

According to Spencer, the spaces located at 202 North Main Street and 204 North Main Street in Blacksburg which used to house a Subway and Starbucks need an industrial facelift to meet the demand of the community members.

“(Boss) was planning on doing things that were more intense, like restaurant activities, because Subway and Starbucks don’t have big stoves or pizza ovens,” Spencer said. “There was going to have to be some changes and upgrades to the facility which building permits require.”

In his previous building permit applications submitted between summer 2021 and September 2022, Blacksburg denied Boss for reasons including not showing where lighting receptacles will be displayed in the business, not providing the total occupancy, not having the state health department approve his applications and not specifying whether he would install outdoor speakers.

Ultimately, Spencer says Boss failed to answer every question on his permit application until his second submission in September 2022.

“The issues that were coming out were pretty objective like, ‘you need to have this on your plan,” Spencer said. “Getting building permits–it’s not uncommon for someone to submit a set of plans and for them to be sent back.”

Meanwhile, Blacksburg has local and zoning critiques of Boss’s permit application including whether a grease trap and heavy-duty sinks in his restaurants were necessary.

Because permit applications are sent back frequently, Spencer says he can understand why Boss would be upset, but says he does not know why Boss has begun accusing the town manager–Chris Lawrence–as racist and announcing to file suit against the town.

Blacksburg, Va. – Main Street, a busy thoroughfare near Virginia Tech campus.

Boss submitted his latest permit application on March 16, but Blacksburg has not made any approvals for him to move forward. The process for the building officials to approve or deny applications is two or three weeks, but Spencer says the town is waiting for one more submission that he did not specify.

In an investigation that Spencer provided, town building officials visited the spaces on September 15 where they found moving companies and contractors working with power tools inside. The town eventually sent a “stop work order” to the developers and Boss’s landlord.

Spencer says he is not aware of any lawsuit, and the prosecuting attorneys have not contacted him.

Whatever happened to savings bonds?

by Emaryi Williams –

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

According to AARP, savings bonds were really popular gifts “back in the day”, especially among grandparents. Savings bonds date back to 1935 when former president Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into legislation that the U.S. Department of the Treasury could sell them as a new type of security.

According to Treasury Directs, when you buy a savings bond you’re essentially “lend[ing] money to the U.S. government. In turn, the government agrees to pay that much money back later — plus additional money (interest).” The interest can only be earned for up to 30 years, and it can also be federally taxed.

There are three main types of savings bonds in the United States:

  1. Series E — These types of bonds were created in 1981 to help fund World War II. As of 1980, they are no longer being sold. While these would be out of date, they are still redeemable.
  2. Series EE — These bonds were created in 1990 to replace the Series E bond and were used as a way to help save and pay for college. These bonds earn different interest rates based off of when they were issued.
  3. Series I — These bonds were created in 1998 to help Americans save while protecting them against inflation. These bonds have a combination of a fixed rate and a semiannual inflation rate that reflects the consumer price index.

Now that you know the difference between savings bonds, you may still be wondering where they went, and why you may not see them anymore.

The answer is simple. They went online.

As of 2012, savings bonds were no longer printed on pieces of paper. To both purchase and redeem an online savings bond, you must go through Treasury Direct, which is maintained by the U.S. Treasury. The move to online was made to make bond purchases easier and more accessible using the internet.

Despite paper bonds being discontinued, you can still cash in paper bonds. You can even convert your paper bond into an electric one on Treasury Direct’s website, letting it mature longer online. According to Investopedia, another pro to switching to electronic bonds is that when you want to cash out an electronic bond, you can choose to only take a portion and keep the rest maturing. You cannot do that with a paper bond.

Rules about interest and taxes are still the same for both paper and electronic savings bonds, and they can be found on Treasury Direct’s website. There is also a tool available to help bondholders determine what their bond may be worth today.

Apartment hunting? 5 things to consider

by Emaryi Williams-

(Photos Source: Mastersenaiper/Pixabay)

As inflation rises in almost every aspect of American life, including housing, renting an apartment is starting to look unrealistic for some. According to Virginia Realtors, rental demand and prices for apartments are on the rise. Early preparation is important if you are thinking of finding an apartment.

In no particular order, here are five things to have or consider before renting: 

  1. Budget

According to Capital One, it is a general rule to have a job that pays three times your rent, and most landlords even require it for renting. This will be key in trying to set your budget. According to Citizens Bank, one common budget plan is the 50/30/20 Budget Rule, which divides your income into needs, wants and savings respectively.

  1. Savings

With the numerous upfront costs that accompany a newly acquired apartment like furniture and appliances, aspiring renters need to have money readily available. The exact amount of money is subjective to the potential apartment and additional charges, but Supermoney says that the average person should have $5,000 to $8,000 in their bank account before moving.

  1. Security deposit and application fees

To get through the application process, there are two main fees of which potential renters will need to be aware. According to Virginia tenant law, a landlord is required to charge tenants a security deposit, which is a maximum of two months’ rent. Potential renters will also need to make sure they are aware of the application fees. In Virginia, laws limit application fees to $50. 

  1. Credit score

Fixing a poor credit score cannot happen overnight, so making sure you have a good score is something you want to do well in advance of looking for a new apartment. According to Flex Finance Inc., the more competitive the market is, the higher your credit score will need to be with the following ranges:

  • Exceptional: 800 – 850
  • Very Good: 740 – 799
  • Good: 670 – 739
  • Fair: 580 – 669
  • Poor: 300 – 579

If you have a bad credit score, you may need to look into a co-signer.

  1. Required documents

According to Apartmentguide, there are standard documents that you will need to provide your potential landlord. Other than providing your social security number, you will need to provide proof of employment with paystubs/bank statements, a government-issued ID, vehicle registration (for a parking pass) and rental history.

Inclusivity in Hollywood

by Golder Baah-

Photo: Pexels.com

In the last few years, Disney has been remaking many of their classic animated films into live-action movies. Although there hasn’t been an official announcement or confirmation of a live-action version of “The Princess and the Frog,” rumors are circulating in the news and on social media that Disney is working on it.

Social media users have immediately jumped to who should play Princess Tiana and who should not. Many people on social media are voicing their opinions on the role due to Hollywood’s repetitive colorism. Hollywood has a history of giving roles that are meant for darker-skinned women to lighter-skinned women, and the media is not having it for the live-action version of “The Princess and the Frog.”

According to Deadline, “nearly 80% of Black female characters have light or medium skin tones.” This is due to the stereotype of darker-skinned black women “not having the white standards of beauty.” This limited representation on the big screen does not accurately showcase the range of Black women in today’s society. 

In 2021, the trailer for the movie “The Harder They Fall” was released, and the media immediately noticed the portrayal of Stagecoach Mary, a real historical figure who was a dark-skinned Black woman, was being portrayed by light-skinned actress Zazie Beetz. This sparked questions on social media about why a light-skinned actress was cast in the role of a real-life darker-skinned woman when there are darker-skinned actresses who could have justified the role. 

According to TeenVogue, “Hollywood still overwhelmingly believes that a Black woman must possess non-Black ancestry or features to be considered beautiful or valuable.” Concerns over colorism and blackface were brought to light again when light-skinned actress Zoe Saldana was cast as Nina Simone, a dark-skinned musician who faced racial discrimination. Saldana wore a prosthetic nose, false teeth, and dark makeup for the role. 

While there have been some efforts to increase the number of roles meant for dark-skinned women in Hollywood, inclusivity cannot be achieved until dark-skinned women have equal representation on the big screen. With the potential upcoming live-action version of “The Princess and the Frog,” many people on social media are hoping to see Hollywood make progress and accurately represent the Black community in film and TV, rather than continue to disappoint with a lack of representation and blackface. 

Uptick in clothes thrifting

by George Waters-

Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels.com

Thrifting clothes is becoming more popular by the day. According to a report by ThredUp, the second-hand market is projected to boom 127% by 2026 from where it was only two years ago.

In the business world, that type of growth is generally beyond even the most optimistic of expectations, but why are so many people flocking to this market?

The best way to look at this is from the beginning, and reusing clothes and materials has been a facet of society for generations. As the authors of this Tryst article cover, thrifting in the U.S. is commonly linked to the Salvation Army’s inception in the early 1900s.

In reality, its roots go back even further as immigrants found ways to make what money they could selling used clothes and items on the streets. Before that, families would pass down clothes from one kid to the next as they were handmade.

As time went on, and thrifting became more of a social phenomenon and less of a familial one, its popularity dipped before rising back up in recent decades.

This can be attributed to a number of factors. Thrift shops have always been valued because of how cost-effective they are for the consumer, but a concern for the environment has likely sparked a new wave of conscientious customers.

Gen Z is especially contributing to this sentiment and is commonly attributed to the market’s rapid growth. Fashion guides using thrift hauls are extremely successful over social media.

There are some concerns, as this NY Times article points out, about how second-hand markets are growing however. The rise in fast fashion is flooding stores with cheap, poorly made clothes that consumers are less likely to buy but still take up precious time for employees to catalog.

Additionally, the surge in consumers has the potential to deplete the quality stock and create a rise in pricing, driving away the individuals with little cash flow that these institutions were originally designed for.

Either way, the second-hand market is making its push to become the first choice in the eyes of consumers.

How the pandemic changed restaurant industry


by Alana Kirsch-

The Covid-19 pandemic was brutal for small businesses in America with restaurants, getting particularly hit hard. But if you’re looking for a silver lining, many of these changes provided options that brought alternative forms of revenue, opened a door for new customers, and changed the trajectory of the industry itself.  

Prior to 2019, a restaurant was a place to gather and share a meal. New safety regulations led the restaurant industry to re-evaluate its service model. Operators’ priority became their customers’ safety and restaurants worked quickly to implement new offerings that would keep them in business.  

While in-person dining services were paused restaurants focused on alternative forms of revenue. Sixty-seven percent of restaurants implemented curbside pick-up with another 27% implementing third-party delivery. 

People were able to order food from their favorite restaurants while reducing the risk of exposure. Many places even provided customers with a contactless delivery option, requesting the deliverer to leave the food at the door. 

New changes continued to be implemented even after the option for in-person dining services was re-opened.  Physical menus were replaced with QR Codes. This allowed customers to scan a code on their mobile devices which would direct them to an online version of an establishment’s menu. Contactless menus were an easy and accessible solution for most people. 

Cashless payments became the new normal. Many establishments adopted tablets to avoid giving customers physical checks. This allowed for the rise of contactless payment all together. Most restaurant establishments have continued using the new practices they implemented during the pandemic. 

Automation was not the only solution. Mandatory physical changes lead to deeper reconstructions within the system. Restaurants have been known for long hours, low wages, and few benefits. This too was changed by the pandemic. 

Social distancing called for restaurants to reduce their in-person dining availability. This allowed restaurant owners and operators to focus on the quality of their employees instead of the quantity.

With fewer and better employees to pay wages and benefits grew. The independent restaurant coalition reports since February of 2020 84% of restaurants have raised wages and 34% have added paid sick leave to benefits for their employees. 

An essential characteristic of working in any restaurant is the ability to adapt. This was especially true during the pandemic. Although these changes are a departure from the pre-pandemic world they lead to many necessary changes for employees and customers. 

Health benefits of houseplants

by Cyna Mirzai-

Photo: Huy Phan

The spring season often marks the beginning of plant buying season, with plant lovers and newbies alike searching for new greenery to take home. While houseplants can certainly be used for decoration, there is much more to those green and leafy plants than simply embellishing a space.

Although eating well and exercising have a substantial impact on one’s health and wellness, the environment in which one lives also plays an important role. Integrating varying houseplants into one’s home can create positive changes in stress levels, breathing and overall wellness.

A number of studies show that inadequate access to nature can contribute to higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. However, since houseplants are seen as an essential connection to nature, multiple studies prove that being in the presence of houseplants can improve cognitive, behavioral and health-related functions. 

Plants are notably beneficial for reducing stress. One study found that people feel less physiological and psychological stress after repotting a plant compared with doing a computer task. The study also found the subjects to have significantly lower diastolic blood pressure and a suppressed sympathetic nervous system after repotting their plants. 

Similarly, another study found that patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers indicated significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue. 

While reducing stress is an important factor for one’s mental health, houseplants can also aid in improving one’s physical health. According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution each year. Although opening windows and naturally ventilating indoor spaces can work as a remedy, many plant species can also improve air quality by removing cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene from the air. One study also found that soil in potted plants could help clean indoor air.

There is a myriad of different houseplants to choose from when looking for new flora. If you are new to plants, many botanists recommend starting out with pothos and snake plants. On the other hand, if you have a natural green thumb, try incorporating orchids and Boston ferns into your home.

Nepotism’s impact on the entertainment industry

by Hannah Williams-

Photo by Ebuka Onyewuchi from Pexels

Society throughout the years has had an obsession with celebrity culture, as evidenced by magazines such as People or Us Weekly. Even the possibility of a celebrity being pregnant can spark headlines. When that celebrity’s child is born, the idea of nepotism is questioned, which has become a cause for concern within the entertainment industry. 

Frequently used on social media nowadays, the term ‘nepo baby’ refers to any person with a famous parent. Current celebrities that fit into this category include Zoë Kravitz, Maya Hawke or Lily-Rose Depp. While nepotism is not a new concept, its resurgence within pop culture is. Vulture, the pop culture section of New York Magazine, published an article in December about ‘nepo babies’ with what many considered a shocking cover. The article, written by Nate Jones, states the entertainment industry is now built on reboots which can make a famous last name “valuable intellectual property.”

The article became the talk of social media for many weeks following its publication. Several people began looking into their favorite celebrities and whether or not they gained access to the industry based on merit alone. Despite any talent ‘nepo babies’ possess, many argue they would not have found success without the help of their parents and any affiliated connections. It also begs the question of whether or not connections and money are truly the only way to make it in the industry. Gwyneth Paltrow, however, says that ‘nepo babies’ have to work twice as hard to prove that they are deserving of their place despite their backgrounds.

Zooming in, nepotism has become a prominent issue within theatre where ticket sales have often become prioritized over production quality. A lot of uproar was caused when Maude Apatow, the daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, was cast as the female lead in the Broadway production, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. When Playbill announced the casting choice, one user commented that it was “nice to see nepo babies thriving when so many can’t get a job.” Former Broadway actress, Anissa Felix, came to her defense saying having a famous name on the bill helps with ticket sales and attendance rates.

There are many debates on whether or not nepotism can be viewed as detrimental or beneficial to performers. In some cases, it could be both. There is no doubt that the concept will remain in conversation for a long time and some celebrities will have to cope with extensive backlash based on their connections.