Blog In for CPSIA Action

Things could change dramatically for crafters, small business owners, independent children's clothing and toy makers, if the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) goes into effect on February 10th, 2009. This act came about as a result of the atrocious lack of safety standards in the production of children's toys and clothing from large over-seas manufacturers- think of all those recalls of goods produced in China last year. What it requires is that all makers of products intended for children under 12 be required to submit these products to third party testing. This means every product for children under 12- clothing, toys, diapers and even books. While I am all for stricter product testing for items that are coming from overseas where they seem to have serious lack of concern for what goes into their goods- this act will have a tremendous impact on many, many small business that are already creating safe products. The testing fees will be so high they will literally put small operations out of business. For example, my fellow BEST member Sweet Pepita makes gorgeous baby tees and dresses from recycled t-shirts. So far there is confusion over if the act will cover one of a kind items such as Sweet Pepita t's. If it does, Sweet Pepita will be out of business. How can she afford to have each and every t-shirt she makes tested for safety standards??? Not to mention that the tests cost thousands of dollars, so even having one prototype tested is cost prohibitive for a small business. AND the testing sites are all over seas. HMMMM, aren't we already concerned about China's lackadaisical concern with product safety, and we are now going to trust their testing facilities?? This quote is from the site Boing Boing-
"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."

Congress finally woke up to the fact that the Consumer Product Safety Commission lacked the staffing and regulation to prevent the importation of dangerous toys from overseas. In August 2008 they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to deal with this issue. 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. Sounds good right??? It maybe easy for large toy and children's product manufacturers to comply, they make items in batches of thousands and will only have to pay for one prototype of each product to be tested- this cost will be incremental to their businesses. But for those like Sweet Pepita, makers of safe, high quality, small batch or one of a kind children's items, made in the USA, the outlook is bleak. There has to be some sort of compromise here.

You may be wondering to yourself, "why do you care so much, you make jewelry for adults- your business won't be affected." Well here is why- remember back near the first of the year when I said that there were some big surprises ahead for 2009??? Well that surprise is that Mr. Dandelion and I are expecting a "sprout" come July! As I prepare and delve deep into the world of children's products, a place I have really not visited before, I find myself drawn to handmade items even more. I don't want to fill up my house with cheap, plastic, loud, Disney character laden toys and goods that will end up in the landfill for decades after my child has lost interest. I want the availability to choose items that are handmade, sustainable, or from recycled materials, over mass produced junk from China. I want to support small businesses, artists and stay at home parents who are making a living off creating children's goods with care and quality. I have to say mega-stores like "Babies R' Us" and "Buy, Buy, Baby" scare the hell out of me- stacks and stacks of plastic, garish, bleeping and blaring, flashing and vibrating STUFF, the industry is trying to convince me that sprout needs- it's enough to cause a seizure with all that madness. If the CPSIA is passed as it stands, we will loose a lot of choice in products for our children. Gone will be heirloom quality handmade baby quilts, one of kind clothing, small batch wooden toys. Children's consignment shops will have to prove that each of the products in their stores meet the stringent standards. I have already given Sweet Pepita several of mine and my husband's old t-shirts that we've kept out of sentimentality, to be made into clothing for the sprout. These are items we will keep forever, along with any baby sweaters this chickadee cares to knit for us (hint, hint). If this passes our kids will all be wearing the same damn thing from Walmart, and playing with the same obnoxious plastic toys. We'll be hauling our kids around in the same exact carriers, with the same diaper bags, singing the same ridiculous Disney tune from the latest must have DVD. Hell, we might as well all just put on our Mickey ears now! This my friends is a sad, sad future.

What can you do??? For starters go here and download your CPSIA Action kit.

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