Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why you should care about CPSIA

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, you've heard about the many toy recalls in the last year--toys made with lead-based paint or other hazardous materials or methods. Toys that were unsafe for our children. These recalls have led many parents to start thinking about what they buy for their children, and that has been GREAT for the handmade movement! After all, buying a handmade toy from a real person is bound to be safer than buying something machine-made in China, right?
Well, some of those same concerned parents talked to their legislators (which is good), and the legislators decided they should pass laws requiring better safety testing for all children's products (which also sounds good to me!). So they wrote the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which requires lots of elaborate (and expensive) safety testing. Let me clarify this for you--as of Feb 10, 2009, each item I make for a child (say, a cloth diaper) must be tested by a third party. If I make a diaper with a different fabric, or a different size, or snaps instead of velcro, or even a different color of snaps, then it is considered a new item, and must also be tested. The testing costs $150-4000 per item. You see, they neglected to make an exception for handmade products, or (from what I understand) even for second-hand items. So that sweet little children's consignment shop down the street? Illegal. My etsy shop? Closed. Thousands of other small-time work-at-home-parents just like me? Out of business.

Save Handmade Toys
(clicking this image will take you to a site that is full of links and information--I highly recommend it!)

I want to clarify that I do not think this legislation is a bad idea! Not at all! I'm thrilled to see someone finally stepping in and insisting on safer products for our children! I just think that somebody needs to make some edits to the bill! ,I for one, would be completely happy to attach a card to each of my items that says "this product was made by hand and has not been tested for lead content or potential carcinogens." People who buy handmade products know what they are getting, and they are comfortable with it. They will not be deterred by a card like that, and yet I can clear myself of liability by stating that I did not do the fancy testing. It's a win-win solution, don't you think?

So what can you do?
  • Contact your senators and representatives and tell them that this legislation needs to be amended! Here is a sample letter (but please don't just cut and paste it, they pay more attention to the ones that are unique!) I hear they also pay more attention to letters than to emails, and more to phone calls than to letters...
  • Help spread the word by joining facebook groups, ning, twittering, and blogging about it!
  • Sign the petition at ipetitions
  • Sign the petition at (the causes that get the most votes will be presented to President Obama)
  • Post widgets (like the ones in this post) on your blog or webpage.
  • Submit your endangered handmade items to Endangered Whimsy (submission info on the sidebar)
Here are some more links:
Open letter from Etsy about CPSIA
The Handmade Toy Alliance


  1. Just wanted to say thanks again for spreading the word to your readers.

  2. I just posted about this too (you have much better info though!) They've got a few tweeks started so maybe it will get better. I really don't want to limit to age 12 & up or close.
    Anyway, just wanted to say "Have a safe and happy New Year!".

  3. thanks for the widget - I posted it on my blog, and wrote my senators. Hope this works. {:-Deb

  4. Here is something else you can do - Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I have a link up on my blog to a news story in Minnesota on it. The CPSC is feeling a lot of heat on this and is looking for a loop hole to exempt home made and thrift store items.

    Great links - I'll link to this in my comments and send it on to friends.


  5. I'll be doing a blog post on this in the next few days. Thanks for the info!


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