On December 12, 2008 I asked small business owners and citizens, to vote for an idea. Not such a radical idea, just that the CPSC review the CPSIA, and adjust it so that our small businesses will not become extinct, and our valuable products remain in the hands of children, not destined to become archived in museums during our lifetimes.
The page became quite popular overnight, quickly reaching the top position in the Economy section on change.org. With your continued support (spreading the word, asking for votes) our proposal is well on its way to reaching President Obama on Inauguration Day.
There are those who disagree with the proposal and that's okay, we're all entitled to our opinion. Below is a comment (along with my response) that opens up lots of opportunity for discussion. Please add your own comments to the page.
Business, business, business??? This is NOT about business. It's about the safety of our CHILDREN! Hazardous toys have come from more countries than just China. Haba even has toys with toxins. They've come from EU countries, many countries in Asia, not just China. Are you willing to mark your goods as exempt from testing? I doubt it - it might hurt your business. I will NOT buy any toys that aren't tested. My child's wellbeing is more important that any small business in this country. -Cheryl E
My Response: You're right Cheryl, this is not about business, it's about a society that has become so far removed from the goods it consumes, that many of its members are more trusting of giant faceless corporations, than they are of their own neighbors. Luckily a great deal of us demand quality, refuse to consume garbage, and believe in speaking up when faced with a law that doesn't quite make sense.
The simple fact is those who put this law together didn't consider the cottage industries who still produce children's products (in this country no less--how radical), from materials that do not include lead (illegal in the USA since 1978) or phthalates. I'm confident they will remedy their mistake.
The wellbeing of my children, my family, my neighbors, country, and the world at large are more important to me than business. When I choose a product my company will sell, my first thought is not about profit, it's about the benefits that item will bring into the life of a child, as well as whether I feel the maker of that product is worthy of my dollars, and the dollars of my customers.
I guess our government must be pretty fond of the handmade toys and other children's items made by American craftspeople, since time and again it has commissioned special items for the White House, for example the Clinton/Gore bus made by Holgate, the oldest toymaker in the United States. Sorry to break the news to you Cheryl, but our country is not giving us the pink slip anytime soon. Who will outfit the children of its leaders if that happens? I kind of doubt they're shopping at Walmart. -Cecilia Leibovitz
This image is an attachment I received with the below letter today from Vermont
Senator Patrick Leahy (please click to enlarge it). Senator Leahy has always been a strong supporter of small business, but I wasn't sure what to expect in reply when I wrote to him. This is very positive and gives me hope! Please leave your comments below. I would love to hear what you think.
Dear Ms. Leibovitz:
Thank you for contacting me about third party testing of toys. I appreciate knowing of your concerns.
July, Congress overwhelmingly approved H.R. 4040, the CPSC Reform Act,
to address the safety of products sold in the United States. I
supported the bill because the number of consumer safety crises over
the past two years demanded that we put more emphasis and funding into
product safety and oversight. Major reform was needed because the CPSC
had not been properly equipped to handle these serious problems.
number of small manufacturers in Vermont have contacted me concerning
the CPSC's regulatory guidance. During Senate consideration of the
bill, I raised similar concerns and sent the attached letter to
Senators negotiating the final package. I am hopeful that the CPSC will
take the needs of small, American manufacturers into consideration as
they continue to develop new testing policies. In the next session of
Congress, I will continue to work towards a solution that both ensures
the safety of our children and allows small businesses in Vermont to
Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.
In 66 days mandatory safety testing will be required for all toys sold in the United States under a new law through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). If the law as currently written is not modified, handmade toys (and other children's items) made by small crafters, and even niche products from some larger companies will no longer be legal in the United States; Craftsbury Kids and countless other retailers who rely on handmade products in the children's industry will be left with a dismally limited product range to offer customers.
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.
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 in August 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.
All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their molds to include batch labels.
For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business, or prevent them from doing business with the United States. :: A toymaker for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the (up to $4,000) fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA. :: A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations. :: And even the handful of larger toy makers 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.
The CPSIA simply forgot to address the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust: toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, will be that small creative companies with unique products, will be forced out of business, or forced to narrow their product range and sell to the mass market. Product availability and selection will diminish. Ironically, we will be primarily left with imported plastic toys from China.
Parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens: Write to your United States Congress Person and Senator and the CPSC to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys. You can find a sample letter with links to representatives here- http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/how-you-can-help/ and the Handmade Toy Alliance website provides extensive information along with important links if you'd like to research further.
Please pass the word on in any way you can, discuss this issue in forums and post about it on your blog.