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But, will the CPSIA really affect you?

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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

But, will the CPSIA really affect you?

In theory, the CPSIA sounds like a smart idea: Dangerous toys were coming out of China. Scared Americans demanded tighter regulations.

In response, the CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) was born. It requires that any product marketed to kids, including clothing, toys and books, must have third-party proof that it does not have dangerous amounts of lead or chemicals in it.

What no one saw--what many still do not understand--is how much these regulations are going to affect us all.

Who will it affect?

the parent who seeks out U.S.- and European-made wooden and organic cotton
items for their children, instead of mass-produced plastics;

smaller companies who cannot afford the massive testing costs. Companies like Germany's Selecta, who already meet or exceed stricter European safety standards, have already stopped distribution to the U.S. since they would have to raise prices by 50% to pay for the additional testing;

the parent who must get his hands on an original Make Way for Ducklings to share with his kids;

the antique book seller whose focus is children's titles, especially classic illustrated books;

anyone who shops for handmade items for their children--for a gallery of items affected by the CPSIA, see Endangered Whimsy (warning: it may break your heart);

the new mom who starts an Etsy shop to bring in a second income and do something she loves;

the homeschooling family who relies on the purchase of used curriculum and books to afford their way of life;

the librarian who fears that her entire children's section of books, CD's and DVD's may have to be destroyed if exemptions are not made.

In less than ONE MONTH, all of these people and many more, will be impacted by the CPSIA unless major changes are made.

Less than one month.

Already, the impact is visible. Etsy stores are closing or removing children's items from their inventory. Amazon has sent out warnings to their vendors. Libraries are tensely watching the situation unfold.

Some small victories have been won. On January 8th, the CPSIA announced that
sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

But, small victories are not what is needed. We need the Consumer Product Safety Commission to realize that while protecting our children from dangerous (mostly Chinese-made) products is important, putting U.S. small businesses out of work is not the answer.

Also, we need to consider the tons and tons and tons of waste generated as toys, clothing and (I can't even think about this one) books are destroyed. It makes me think that perhaps Wall-E's world of trash was not fiction after all.

For more information and to find out what you can do, please click on the Save Handmade link on this page.

Please do something today.



Blogger Wacky Hermit said...

Thanks for posting about the CPSIA and helping raise awareness! May I suggest that your readers join the mail-in CPSIA protest?

11:24 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Thank you for the mail-in CPSIA protest info! The more ways we can hit them with out concerns, the better.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Connie said...

Great post! But please note that while second hand dealers got a minor concession, the CPSIA also piles on them the liability of the items they sell stating that if an item is sold and found to have lead, they second-hand seller faces criminal and civil penalties. How many will be able to afford this liability and what will it do to their insurance rates?

Also, do moms who sell on Craigslist or giveaway on FreeCycle now fall under second hand dealers? No where does it define who or what a second hand dealer is. People are ASSUMING it means someone with a storefront, but does it?

That's the problem with this law. :(

There are items with lead - crystals, iron-on transfers, vinyl - there will be people selling stuff with lead. Now, will anyone report them? Scary thought of what someone with evil intentions could do to a second-hand business.

Thanks for all you're doing to make this right.


12:30 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Thank you Connie! I thought I read that second hand dealers had to be 'sure' there was no lead in their things but think my eyes crossed in the midst of the legal jargon, so I left it out! There is soooo much confusion over this law, and I wonder how many loopholes the big companies will be able to find, thus working around the law.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of those frustrating incidents when good intentions (ie protecting children) are in fact ill conceived, poorly executed and ultimately counter-productive.

I find it mind boggling that EVERY component of EVERY toy, book, and article of clothing must be tested by the manufacturer before entering the supply chain. Because the US government and beef producers always allege that it is fiscally impossible to do similar testing for beef cattle in the wake of mad cow outbreaks.

I guess mad cows aren't as scary as mad soccer moms?

2:17 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

This makes me sick to my stomach. My kids got quite a bit of handmade items for Christmas this year, either through Etsy or local shops. It breaks my heart to think we'll be forced into the world of Fisher Price and Gymboree with few options.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Dysd Housewife said...

I have wondered how they plan on enforcing this. I also think it's a SAD day, when the oversight of ANOTHER country's manufacturers (as you said China) suddenly becomes legislation for the US. IF the US would enforce more US produced products, maybe we wouldn't have this happening.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

I've written my letters, alerted my library, and still I feel helpless. This whole thing gives me a sinking feeling... that many parents will have no choice but buy mass manufactured toys, since they will be the only companies who can afford the testing. Once again, handmade items will be unaffordable or unavailable to many.

It seems that this is an easy fix-- correct some wording of a well-intentioned bill. Or is everyone too busy working on the auto bailout? And why has there been fairly little national press on this? Ugh.

9:13 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I realize that the sweeping nature of this bill has it's problems, and that there is very little out there that is completely non-toxic. For instance there's virtually no fabric printed in a completely non-toxic way, and the same goes for lumber. There may be items of lesser toxins, but it's the materials that really need to be tested.

I was under the impression that the CPSC has exempted wood, wool, cotton and other natural fibers from the provision, though, so shouldn't people who use these be protected should they be called to prove their goods?

Read about that here:

I really think that no one should panic just yet. There are still things being hammered out.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

Wow - this gets crazier every time I hear more. I signed the petition last month.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Ali B. said...

Hey, this was great. Thanks for summing it all up so well. And you KNOW I agree with Subspace Beacon! I'm clicking yer link now.

8:34 PM  
Blogger suzannah said...

why the junk don't we just shut the door on the dangerous, cheap imports, instead of penalizing the small companies and artisans who provide such a welcome alternative to the craptastic/chemically-laden big box toys?

this is such a heartbreaking mess--and i do think secondhand shops' days are numbered, since they are legally liable even though exempt from testing . boooooo!

11:07 AM  
Blogger CuckooBoo said...

I hope everyone likes buying cheap crap from walmart and target, because these large corporations will be the only place to buy stuff for our kids since they are the only ones that can afford to test the products. No more boutiques or handmade! Absolutely nauseating!

3:50 PM  

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