Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CPSIA: Get the lead out (but keep the small-business owners)

Norm in jail

From the Haddy2dogs shop posting on Etsy.com (photos and text used with permission):

Meet Norm, a mild mannered playful house gnome of modest means. He could not afford the testing required by the CPSIA so he was fined and sent to jail. He was forced to trade his natty red cap and charming green cloak for garish prison attire.

Norm longs to be adopted by a loving family with children who love natural toys, open ended play and fairy tales. This will never happen if the CPSIA forces small business folks to test their toys. Norm is made from 100% wool. The wool used for him was from a small flock of sheep in rural Oregon far from a plastic toy factory.

Farewell my gnomey friend, you will be missed but not forgotten.

Norm in happier times

The CPSIA was created to hold toy companies accountable for the products they create and import. Many of us do not think their intent was to punish the small business owners who have been using natural materials to make safe toys and clothes in small batches. However, that will be the case when the law goes into effect on February 10, 2009, without any modifications. This law covers not only toys but clothing and books intended for children under 12.

Fortunately, small business toymakers are taking action to petitioning our elected officials to modify the law. Please help by contacting your elected officials before February 10. The
Handmade Toy Alliance has sample letters you can send, as well as a petition to sign at http://handmadetoyalliance.org/.


Lone Star Ma said...

I must confess to being not supportive of this campaign in practice, though I am on board with you in theory. As mentioned, this problem for re-sale retailers, etc. was an unintended consequence of the law. While it is a very serious problem for many small business owners, I am extremely concerned that the law (it has already passed - it just goes into effect in February) will simply go away due to their bruhaha. Personally, as mean as it sounds, I would rather see those small businesses go away than see children continue to suffer the disabilities and deaths that they are currently suffering for lack of the law, which was extremely difficult to get passed. And I really think that there must be a way to be certain that the things that are hand-made by small businesses, etc. are also truly safe - something we don't really know (and an issue which actually came up for my family once when my daughter - at a far older age than that at which you stop worrying about such things - accidentally swallowed a handmade bead sold by a small business owner) unless some safety standard is place, regardless of good intentions. Certainly that way should be made manageable, and I am pretty sure Congress will see to the unintended consequences of the bill on its own, as businesses usually get a lot more consideration than children's safety in their eyes - but I am very worried that this movement will lead to the gutting of a badly needed bill, as another unfortunate and unintended consequence.

Saints and Spinners said...

LSM: I've corrected the post-- thanks for the clarification.

I'm glad your daughter was okay after swallowing the small bead. My daughter almost never put toys in her mouth at the age one worries about such things, but now she is putting toys into her mouth at an alarming rate.

Regarding the law, I also don't want it to be gutted. I am concerned, however, that this law will mean that the only toys, books and clothing available for children will be mass-produced and made of non-natural materials. I'll be glad to know that the cheap stuff I see on the shelves is lead-free, but I still won't want to buy it.

If you blog your counter argument, I'll link it on this post.

Lone Star Ma said...

That's a good idea - but it's hard to see it as a counter-argument when I really am sympathetic to your post, too - nothing's ever simple - sigh.

Lone Star Ma said...

P.S. - It was a rather large bead - crazy story I'll share some time.