Ok. So here is the beef. Never heard of the CPSIA? Panicking over the new regulations? Read on.
I join my voice today with over 260 bloggers today to inform and bring hope about this really upsetting new law in place which ultimately affects the entire nation.
WHAT IS THE CPSIA?
Do you remember last year's scare over wooden and painted toys from China? I remember debating whether or not to give Ian the set of wooden airplanes I bought him from Pier One. We were all scared.
In response to the overwhelming recall of toys and products containing lead (over 8 million items) the government decided to step in and stop the issue of lead getting to our children. Good, right? Keep children safe!
When congress passed the CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Inspection Act) in August 2008, they were intending to protect companies from selling harmful products. All products intended for children under 12 years old must go through thorough and stringent testing. The CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in children's products, mandates third party testing and certification, and requires manufacturers of all goods for children under the age of 12 to permanently label each item with a date and batch number.
For all the official legal documents and info read here.
How does this affect us?
With good intentions to protect children, the new regulations are so broad and far reaching they are doing more harm than good. Third party testing is so outrageously expensive and extensive, a KEY issue looked into when passing this law, it is threatening to put tens of thousands of companies out of business. For example:
So, you make/sell products for children:
- Each particle of your product (clothing, books, toys, educational materials, baby products, etc.) must be tested by a third party. You sell a baby sweater? Each zipper, button, thread, fabric make and particle must be SEPARATELY tested. Even if lead has never been detected in that product. Even if the manufacturer of that product claims the contents are safe. If you make the baby sweater, you must get it tested.
- Testing can be anywhere from $100-$500 per test, so add that up, and you have a sweater not even worthy of being sold in Nieman Marcus
- For a rather humorous (but healthy dose of reality) of the costs imposed on small business, see over 1,000 ETSY items that have been priced to meet the demands after Feb. 10th here.
(my favorite is the handmade felted play lunch set costing $10,080. To buy, click here.)
What does all that mean?
- To the small business owner: Small business owners, home run businesses and crafters will need to have their products comply with these new regulations (regardless of how many products you sell) or serious fines (up to $100,000) can take effect.
- To the student and avid reader: The national Library association is concerned because children's books currently fall under the umbrella of the CPSIA. Read the American Library Association's letter to congress here. School materials and educational materials will go up in cost due to the stringent testing.
- To the Thrift store shopper: Currently their is no formal statement exempting thrifted items from being tested. There is some info that suggests thrifted items are exempt, but it is still not clear
- To the consumer: Fewer options will be available. Handmade, European imported, boutiqued, unique children's products will no longer need to compete against the mass produced Matel and Fisher price products because they will no longer be legal. Read the Handmade Toy Alliance's statement here.
- To the economy in general: With families losing incomes due to these regulations, consumers paying higher prices for children's products and businesses having to borrow more money to stay afloat, February 10th has been labeled as "National Bankruptsy day"
Statement from the Handmade Toy Alliance: If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered.
What can we do about it?
The law is already in place. The CPSC is a rather small organization and is struggling to create the infrastructure to comply with such a massive change in commerce. Because of that, formal statements with specifications of any products that may or may not be exempt have not been made. At this point, companies are still forced to comply. According to this forum, Congress has denied a second hearing, and has not shown any signs of changing the law.
However, YOUR voice NEEDS to be heard in the mean time. This issue has already made it to the front page of Change.org (Obama's site on change) but still, nothing has happened yet to suggest change. If something doesn't happen soon, HUGE changes for the worse have already been set into play.
A plan for action:
- Don't panic. Yes, deadlines are looming, but keep up hope! A lot of negativism has spread in the handmade/small business community, but too much passion will only impede our voice from being heard. Keep working towards change.
- Contact the Committee on Energy and Commerce. See the On-line Action kit with addresses here.
- Contact your local Representatives
- Contact your Senator.
- Contact the President
- Contact the CPSC (in charge of implementing the law)
- Keep up on official updates from the CPSC here
- Participate in CPSC Public commenting: Until January 30th, 2009 the CPSC is taking public comments on Section 102 ofthe CPSIA. Email them here: Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov
- SIgn these petitions: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/reform-cpsia-hr4040.html http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/RepealCPSIA/
- USE THE ACTION KIT made by ETSY administration with SAMPLE letters to be used for all the above contacts.
Helpful links and references:
1. The Handmade Toy Alliance http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/ The most comprehensive source for information and action is the website of the Handmade Toy Alliance. - Sign up for their newsletter: - Join their Google Group 2. Reform CPSIA http://reformcpsia.org/ An Organization of Retailers & Consumers Focused on Reforming the CPSIA
3. ETSY ACTION KIT
A comprehensive list of info, sample letters to use, action plans, links and official statements
2. Fashion Incubator http://www.fashion-incubator.com/blog/ Kathleen Fasanella has been doing a wonderful job of explaining the CPSIA in straightforward and clear ways. Highly recommended.
3. CPSIA Central http://cpsia-central.ning.com/
The handmade consortium is keeping this blog up to date with CPSIA news and press.
5. National Bankruptcy Day http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/
6. Smart Mama Blog http://www.thesmartmama.com/bg/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
RECENT ARTICLES ON THE CPSIA:
2. Bloomberg: Mattel, Wal-Mart Test Toys as Small Firms Struggle
3. Business Week: Misinformation and the CPSIA
Right now, American voices need to be heard. PLEASE write you reps, make calls, blog, contact your local media! I cringe to think that the handmade Christmas items I bought this year (that my children are currently playing with as I write this post) will no longer be available for purchase in the very near future.
So there is the BEEF! Apologies for this VERY long post! But being part of the handmade and small business community, I am passionate about getting these regulations altered to allow business to thrive as usual! Raise your voice and make a change!