Fun Finds For Mom

Help Reform CPSIA

You may have heard of the Consumer Product Safety Inspection Act, which was passed by Congress in August to protect consumers from unsafe products. Unfortunately, this act which is set to go into effect on February 10 is having very real and unintended consequences on small businesses and independent crafters, toymakers, and… well, a lot of the people who make the things I write about here on this blog.

Just the other day I got an email from a woman who sells her handcrafted doll items on Etsy, saying that this law has the potential to put her out of business due to the prohibitive cost of conducting her own lead testing. Remember, the reason why this law was passed in the first place was in response to the big manufacturers who outsourced their production to China and did not take the steps to ensure that the end product was safe and lead-free. Now it’s the mom and pop shops who provide the natural toys we love who stand to be put out of business.

The good news is that today the blogging community is uniting to promote awareness of this law, and to ask you, dear reader, to take action to ask your legislators to reform this law.

Here is a sample letter from the Handmade Toy Alliance to cut and paste into an email to your own senators and representatives (click these links to look up your senators’ and representatives’ contact info):

From:  [your name and address]

To: [your congress person or senator]

Re: The Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA) will result in a drastic deepening of the economic crisis

Dear  [your congress person or senator],

The economic crisis in our country is distressing to millions of Americans. That is why it concerns me that under the CPSIA, many small business owners will be driven out of business, deepening the crisis.  The premise of self reliance and entrepreneurship on which this country was founded is in jeopardy.

Like many people, I was deeply concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large Chinese toy manufacturers have been selling to our families.  And, I was pleased that Congress acted quickly to protect America’s children by enacting the CPSIA.

However, I am very concerned that the CPSIA’s mandates for third party testing and labeling will have a dramatic and negative effect on small businesses whose safety record has always been exemplary. It will devastate small manufacturers and home businesses who create children’s products such as clothes, handmade goods and toys for children, beautiful Native American artifacts, children’s books, adaptive products for children with disabilities, and classroom and homeschool materials. These small businesses simply cannot afford the $300-$4,000 price tag per product that Third Party testers are charging.

With the economic crisis we find ourselves in, fewer families will be able to afford the higher costs of the goods that remain available. Any company that is able to remain in business will undoubtedly raise prices due to increased compliance costs. Everyone will have to pay more for the remaining available goods, deepening the effects of the economic crisis for millions of families.

I urge you to quickly request the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make some very reasonable exclusions in their interpretation of the law as they continue their rulemaking process.  These include exempting books and uncoated fabrics from testing and allowing manufacturers to rely upon testing done by their materials suppliers instead of paying for redundant unit-based testing.  I would also like to see an exemption to third party testing requirements for micro-businesses similar to the exemptions granted by the FDA for small producers under the food labeling laws. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The Commission needs to implement the rules without putting more companies out of business in an already tenuous economy.”

These toy makers, crafters, publishers and small home based businesses have earned and kept the public’s trust.  They provide jobs for thousands and quality playthings and educational products for hundreds of thousands.  Their unique businesses should be protected. Please visit www.handmadetoyalliance.org to learn more about this issue.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[your name]

(Read Design Mom’s post for lots of good links to learn more about the CPSIA.)

image from Sarah Jane Studios

UPDATE: The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission announced Jan. 30 that they are granting a one year stay on the CPSIA, during which time, they will hopefully take a well thought-out approach to how this law will apply to the crafters who make and sell all the homemade items we love.

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009 in Uncategorized