January 28, 2009

International Blog In

Today is International Blog In day for those of us who want to get the word out about the CPSIA. It is something that has me upset and a lot of people worried.

What is the CPSIA?
In short, after a spate of imported children's products were found to contain lead, the United States Congress quickly drafted and passed the CPSIA, or the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in August 2008. This law is slated to go into implementation on February 10, 2009.

Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in childrens products (ages 12 and under) mandates third party testing and certification (of EACH product part) and requires that each item be permanently labeled with a date and batch number.

Now, under the very important auspices of child safety, the CPSIA may have grave, unintended consequences.

What's the big deal?
1. It will become unlawful to make or sell anything intended for use by children 12 or under without a program to test goods for lead. Even if no items of their kind have EVER posed a lead risk. Even if the materials were sourced from the most conscientious supplier (one who already tests for lead and phthalates) and even if they're items toddlers will never put in their mouth such as dartboards or bicycle tires.

2. Testing is so costly thousands of small businesses will be forced to close. For example, I use five different materials to make my dolls. Each part will cost around $300 to test. That means one doll will cost me $1,500+ to produce. And when I need to buy more materials, I will have to test again—even if it comes from the exact same roll of fabric I used before. Can you afford a $1,500 doll?

3. The law is so poorly written it doesn't carefully define which items are to be tested. Anything a 12 year old or under might use? So . . . towels, light switches, books, quilts, chairs . . .?
And the disclaimer, "not for children under 12", doesn't hold legal ground.

So what's going to happen February 10th?

Will the shelves in the stores be empty? Will the children's sections be taped off?
I know a lot of handmade items and small shops will quietly disappear. And it will become illegal to custom create anything that a child 12 and under might use.

So we are calling for an amendment to the CPSIA. Please tell everyone about it. Blog about it. Email the information. Get the word out. And send a letter to those who can make a difference, the news, congress etc.

How do I get started?
Etsy has provided and action kit, full of detailed information, pre-written letters for your congressmen, and links.

Click here to download the Action Kit provided by Etsy. (After clicking, scroll down a bit for the PDF kit.)

No comments: