Thursday, January 8, 2009

Help Save Handmade Toys in the USA! (and kid's clothing, educational products, and used/vintage items geared to kids!)

photo from endangered whimsy a gallery of handmade products endangered by the CPSIA

In August of last year, Congress passed H.R. 4040 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) (PL 110-787), recognizing that so many products geared to children were being made with high levels of lead, unsafe small parts, and toys made with chemicals that made kids sick, in China and other developing countries, which specifically addressed major corporate culprits, such as Hasbro and Mattel. Now, all manufacturers of products geared to children 12 and under must have every component of their designs tested for lead and pthalates, beginning February 10th, 2009.

This targets both the major corporation and the mom selling handmade felt toys on Etsy. But it also targets any product geared to children, from books and clothing (even bibs), to scientific and educational products, even cloth diapers. And it also affects the thrift and consignment stores, which means that any children's product that is in inventory and not tested as of February 10th must be destroyed, even if the product is made with paper, cotton, wool or wood.

In today's economy, where corporate downsizing and bankruptcies force families to find alternative methods to provide basic necessities for their children by shopping thrift and consignment stores and small business owners and independent designers are already struggling to keep their products in the market, this is a disaster of epic proportions, both economically and ecologically. While the spirit of the law is a necessity, the law needs to be amended to prevent unnecessary testing and expense to the small business owner.

Rick Woldenburg has called February 10th, National Bankruptcy Day for a very good reason.

The L.A. Times printed a very concise article on Sunday regarding this issue. You can find it here.

One small business owner, Pamela Kramer, of Happy Panda Baby, a clothing line geared to the non-standard-sized baby, detailed her attempts to evaluate the price of testing of her baby clothing line. The results are staggering! Her blog post is here. She has decided that she will have to discontinue her bib and gown line, as the price of testing is too costly for her to maintain.

Pamela is just one of the countless people who will be negatively impacted by the enforcement of this law. Read more stories at the forum at Fashion Incubator.

The Mom Crowd has a great post highlighting the issues, to share with friends and family.

What can you do?

The Handmade Toy Alliance has prepared a contact form and letter you can send to your congressional representatives. Find out more information here.

Visit Hello Craft for a helpful action list.

An online letter and petition link, can be found here, which will automatically generate a letter to your congressional representatives.

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