Monday, January 5, 2009

Save Handmade!

This news has been circulating on the web, but I wanted to make sure that my readers know what's going on...there is a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act being passed in Congress that will have an enormous negative impact on not only handmade toys, but also smaller toy companies + children's clothing/accessories businesses. I've taken an excerpt from the Handmade Toy Alliance website that explains in more detail what's going on:

The issue:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers and manufacturers of children's products, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

  • A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
  • A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes cloth diapers to sell online must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.
Here are a few products [also above] just on Etsy [and here's a link to their blog post on the issue] that would be efffected by this law:

I don't know about you, but as a consumer, I want to have as many opportunities as I can to buy from smaller businesses, and local when I can. While I am all for the absolute safety of our kids [and think it is awful how many of our kids were put at risk by harmful toys], it seems that this law could do more to protect our choices as consumers to buy local and handmade, as well as preserve the entrepreneurial spirit of our country. Check out the Handmade Toy Alliance website for more information and ways you can help!

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