I have been agonizing over this post for a very long time. I wasn't sure how to phrase my concerns and my thoughts, and, quite honestly, I still don't know what I'm going to say. I'm just going to throw some stuff out there and tell you how I feel.
CPSIA are five small letters that have me raving mad and frustrated these days. Of course, you all remember the recalls of last year. Millions of toys were recalled because they contained high levels of lead making them completely unsuitable for children to play with. The vast majority of these dangerous toys were made in China. As parents, we were peering anxiously at the bottoms of our children's toys matching code numbers with lists of recalled toys. In response to this, many parents chose to stop buying mass produced toys and sought out toys handmade by independent artists and crafters.
It was apparent that something needed to be done to protect our children from unsafe toys. So, our government passed the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA. The law goes into effect on February 10, 2009, and requires the makers of products for children, 12 and under, to have their items tested by a third party testing facility to insure that those items do not contain dangerous lead levels. Now, that sounds all well and good on the surface, but we all know that surface appearances can be very deceiving.
This law affects ALL makers of ALL products for children 12 and under. That means those handmade toys and dresses and other cuteness made by the stay-at-home mom in Michigan or the woodcarver in New York state who makes those fabulous wooden cars. Testing can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per item! Let me assure you that most independent artists and crafters cannot afford that. Even if they could, that cost would certainly be passed on to the consumer. Can you imagine going to a craft show and not finding a single handmade item for your children? No toys, no clothes, nothing. And, keep in mind, it wasn't toys made by crafters in the United States, Canada and Europe that created the problem in the first place.
It gets worse. Ever shop at a second hand children's store? Buy books from a thrift store? Do you sell your kids' used clothes on Ebay? Technically, those items are all hazardous substances as of February 10.
What we have is a case of the government throwing out the baby with the bath water. And let's face it. Our economy is in the toilet at the moment. Families are already struggling. This law makes it even more difficult for them to find affordable quality products for their children. And, it even manages to take away part or all of the independent artist and crafter's income.
The stupidity of it all makes me want to bash my head against my keyboard everytime I think about it. I strongly encourage you to contact your state representatives and voice your concern about this law. Our hope is that they will make drastic changes to it before February 10.
Here is a fabulous pamphlet in a pdf format that you can print and distribute to anyone you know who may be concerned about this law. (And that should be everyone!) Send it to your entire email address list. Drop it off at the local children's boutiques. Wherever they'll let you!
A wonderful editorial in today's Wall Street Journal
And, if you're really brave, here' s the law itself!
Above all, I beg and implore you to go to change.org and vote to save handmade toys! This is so important!
As exciting as it sounds to open my own handmade toy speakeasy, it also sounds a bit exhausting. I'd much prefer to be able to sell and purchase handmade toys without the passwords, hand signals, trench coats and mechanisms to dump the goods when the toy police show up.