Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kid stuff crafters in peril

Remember way back last August, when all of us in the indie beauty business were panicking about the dreaded FDA Globalization act, which would effectively shut down all the small soap, bath and beauty businesses in America with the stroke of a pen? I wrote about it here. Luckily, that's in limbo for now.

BUT, the same thing has already happened to another bunch of businesses. It's the handmade toy industry - but this new law is so bad that it covers everything made for children, including clothes too. I just heard about it from a friend who makes darling little aprons and skirts for girls. I had no idea that it happened, and it goes into effect Feb 10. There will be no more handmade children's clothing, toys, or accessories of any kind. Loads of businesses are having to shutter their doors.

It's not that I'm lazy, but I can't possibly explain the situation better than the Handmade Toy Alliance, so I'm linking to their site, but including the text here so you get a gist of it. I recommend that if you are interested, you head over and read more.

Quote: A Proposal From the

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys containing dangerously high lead content, unsafe small parts, and chemicals that made kids sick.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August 2008. Among other things, 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.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational companies to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each item have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their systems to include batch labels. Small businesses however, will likely be driven out of business by the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of as much as $4,000 or more per item. And the few larger manufacturers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

Anyone who produces or sells any of the following new or used items will be required to comply with the law: toys, books, clothing, art, educational supplies, materials for the learning disabled, bicycles, and more. Any uncertified item intended for children under the age of 12 will be considered contraband after February 10, 2009. It will be illegal to sell or give these items away to charities, and the government will require their destruction or permanent disposal, resulting in millions of tons of unnecessary waste, and placing an enormous strain on our landfills.

There is a clear disconnect between the sweeping nature of this law, and the narrow range of products that were problematic in 2007. The CPSIA applies standards that were put in place in reaction to the sale of toys contaminated with lead paint and toxic plastics. Rather than focus on these materials, this law places a guilty until proven innocent mentality on all children's product producers by imposing mandatory testing and certification, and in the process will kill an entire industry.

Thriving small businesses are crucial to the financial health of our nation. Let's amend the CPSIA so that all businesses large and small are able to comply and survive!

And if you'd like to do one more thing to help save the livelihoods of a bazillion little home-based businesses in America, head over to this petition to sign the following:

Reformation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) HR4040

We, the undersigned, believe that HR4040 unfairly targets small businesses that manufacture or sell products for children by implementing regulations that require redundant testing. Such requirements are excessive and cost prohibitive, retroactively impacting billions of dollars of current inventory. The current Act has circumvented the public discourse necessary to truly ascertain the CPSIA’s impact on small business.

It's heartbreaking to know that so many of my fellow indie crafters are being shut down by this stupid new federal regulation.