Haha! No, I didn’t sneeze. CPSIA stands for “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act”, a law passed by Congress that is intended to give the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) the authority it needs to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US (like the panic over lead in some toys imported from large manufacturers in China last year). This, I think, is a very good goal. I don’t think anyone thinks lead poisoning is a good idea (and if they do, they aren’t speaking up).
However, in addition to providing consumers with protection from large manufacturers, this law also penalizes the smaller manufacturers who have already earned the trust of the public, and has the unintended consequence of putting out of business or at serious financial risk those who already make safe toys. In the end, the businesses who are left standing are the big manufacturers at whom this law is aimed. Ironic, huh?
But it’s just one law! How is it hurting the “little guy” so much, while leaving large manufacturers virtually unscathed? WELL! The CPSIA (rightly) bans lead and phthalates (coincidentally, another word that sounds like a sneeze) in toys and other children’s products, and (here’s the rub) mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys. This testing is very expensive, to the tune of $300-$4,000 per toy. The way I understand it, this doesn’t mean that I would have to test every single Lovey Doll that I sell, but I would have to shell out the money to get each kind of Lovey tested. One test for the Monkey/Shearling, one test for the Argyle/Furry, and still another for the Monkey/Furry. And if I changed materials (which I might need to or want to someday, depending upon the availability of the fabric) I would have to test them all over again. Yuck! What a headache!
This is much less of a headache for large manufacturers to comply with. They make thousands of units of each toy and thus get much more bang for their testing buck, making the testing more financially feasible.
One other icky glitch is that, because all of those small companies (including my own little business, and those of many others on Etsy) would be put out of business, our fragile economy (yup, I said the “E” word!) would be strained even more. Not really something that needs to happen right now.
Here is a quote from Change.org that nicely summarizes what I think is so frustrating about this law:
There is a clear disconnect between the sweeping nature of this law, and the narrow range of products that were problematic in 2007. The CPSIA applies standards that were put in place in reaction to the sale of toys contaminated with lead paint and toxic plastics. Rather than focus on these materials, this law places a guilty until proven innocent mentality on all children’s product producers by imposing mandatory testing and certification, and in the process will kill an entire industry.
There is hope, though! The law does not take effect until February 10, and until then, crafters and small businesses everywhere are putting up a fight and asking their friends to fight too. Which is what I’m doing.
So, pretty please?
First, go to SaveHandmade at CoolMomPicks. This is where I got the adorable little bear button on my home page, and most of my information (or links to other places with information). They have a good run-down of the situation (much better than my crazy summary), updates, and links to petitions and the like. Read up, and get your very own bear button for your own website if you like (I right-clicked on the bear and saved the image to my desktop, then uploaded it to my blog, although it’s quite possible there is a more elegant way to do it).
Next, go to Change.org.Not only does this offer another excellent explanation of our predicament (with a video that nicely clarifies things),
If you’ve done those things, and you’re still all riled up, do some of the other suggestions for how to get involved at SaveHandmade. You could write your representative or congressperson (links are provided), sign a petition or email the CPSC directly. Just make sure to keep things cordial – everyone’s intentions were certainly good, and (as the saying goes), you can catch more flies with honey.
Here are some news websites that I thought were especially good:
Etsy – okay, not a news site, but a great article nonetheless
Fox News DigitalJournal – Congressman Weiner speaks out against the CPSIA
Okay, that should keep you busy for awhile. You can find those links and more at the SaveHandmade website.
Whew! That was some heavy stuff! Also a lot of it – thanks for wading through it all with me! You guys rock.
Anna’s Nest is the craft and tutorial website for me, Anna Warren. It’s also where I keep my blog. Enjoy!