Have you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (i.e. CPSIA)? It’s a piece of legislation initially prompted by all the problems with lead in toys over the past couple of years. The motives behind it are good, I think, but unfortunately the execution and wording of it is beyond ludicrous. Here is an excellent article in Forbes that summarizes the situation – go read it.
It would be awfully nice if people could think through potential consequences before passing a law. There’s definitely a reason that there’s a site called National Bankruptcy Day on this topic. It’s not just toys – it’s ANY product made for children under 12. Not to mention other unintended reprecussions: What about thrift and secondhand stores? As it stands they would be held liable for everything sell. Sure, maybe you don’t want to buy certain older toys secondhand anyway, but we’re also talking about all clothing, coats, shoes, etc. According to the law as it stands, it should all be thrown in the landfill, and we should all be forced to buy everything new. What about libraries? All those dangerous books for kids that haven’t been tested for lead!
I’m a mom. I was certainly disturbed, to say the least, by the lead in toys (mainly from China). One of my personal solutions to that was to buy mostly hand- or locally-made toys for my kids this Christmas, for example. To cut back on plastics and go for natural materials instead. However, my four year old son LOVES superheroes, which means I’m not entirely turning my back on toys made by big companies (which means made in China). So of course I want to be able to know that they’re safe.
BUT SURELY I CAN HAVE THAT ASSURANCE WITHOUT IT DRIVING SMALL TOY COMPANIES AND LOCAL CRAFTERS OUT OF BUSINESS. After all, I have friends (in real life, even, and more on the internet) who sell children’s products both online and off, who will be devestated by this law as it currently stands. I myself would like to eventually sell some toys on etsy and don’t want to have to commit a FELONY to do it. I believe the two things – keeping our kids safe and supporting small, often local, businesses – do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.
They can do better. And if they can’t, well, someone else should be doing it.
The CPSIA was supposed to go into effect on February 10th. I am happy to report that it has been postponed for another year, during which time we can hopefully FIX it (or else start all over, for crying out loud). But now that we have time to effect change, that is exactly when we need to push harder.
The Handmade Toy Alliance site has a page on how you can help with very convenient links for contacting your Congressperson and Senators. PLEASE go there, I promise it doesn’t take long, and tell them that they can do better on this.
Relevant links all in one spot (plus my sidebar button):
- Handmade Toy Alliance
- National Bankruptcy Day
- The article in Forbes that summarizes the situation.
- This is an interesting blog post on who’s behind this piece of idiocy legislation.