I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts lately about CPSIA. I admit I had no idea what it was and mostly just moved past those posts and on to something else. But the other day I paused long enough to read one, and now it has me concerned.
CPSIA stands for “Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act” and while its basic aim of improving the safety of products made for kids is important, recent news of an update may cripple small mom-run, handmade businesses and drive prices up. It’s like reading textbooks to me and I can’t make heads or tails of it.
I don’t have all the information, nor have I done thorough research, but from what I gather, in light of all the problems with the lead based paint in toys from China, the act is to be revised to require ALL items for children comply with certain testing requirements for not only toys, but all items made for children. This testing will likely be costly and prevent the average person selling handmade items from continuing their craft.
I’m not sure what this does for garage sales, eBay, and other used toy and clothing venues, but I’ve read that unless you can prove the tests were done on the stuff YOU sell, you can’t sell it, even if it has a brand name on it. So you won’t be able to resell your kids stuff when they are done with it.
If what have read about these limitations are true, I believe we are taking this a bit too far. I believe we should protect our children, but where does parental responsibility begin and government regulation end? My kids is far more at risk simply getting in my car than by wearing or playing with an item made by a work-at-home mom trying to make a living or by me buying clothes at a garage sale. I believe in quality controls but I also believe that if I can’t afford to buy new, or don’t consider the cost of new clothes worth the short time they wear it before outgrowing it, that I should be able to buy them from my neighbor at their garage sale. I can just picture poor little great-grandma making a scarf for her great-grandson only to be arrested because she never had it tested for lead.
I would rather see small toy-makers and clothing makers have to put a disclaimer on their items that they have not been tested and let me, the consumer, make the decision. Enough jobs have been lost in this economy, let’s not hurt the American family any more than we already have.
There is a group called the Handmade Toy Alliance that is attempting to help save the handmade industry. They have all kinds of resources and links and suggestions for things we can do to help fight the changes to CPSIA that require full compliance 35 days from today, on February 10, 2009.
One way you can help is to sign the petition to save handmade toys and children’s products from the CPSIA. I signed it – I am #8426.
I am curious to know how many of you who will be affected by this have already taken measures to make the necessary changes, how many will just cease operating, and how many will simply conduct business as usual because regulation is one thing but enforcement is a whole other topic.
Update: You can now vote on this issue on change.org: Save Small Business From the CPSIA. Also, if you have a blog, embed the widget to encourage others to help vote. Right now, this issue is one of the 10 slated to be presented at the change.org event in Washington D.C.