Though the FDA Globalization Act is on the back burner for now, another small industry – handcrafted toys – is at risk of falling prey to the same type of catch-all law our industry has been fighting all year.
Toys from China have sickened children all over America in the last two years. Clearly, something needs to be done to protect children and families in America from poor product safety laws in other country’s exports. The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC is the oversight committee that works with toys) 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 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.
This is all good stuff, right? Well …. yes. But, what about the home crafters (your grandpa, maybe?) that have been whittling cool little wooden toys for a part time income and selling them at craft shows. Should they have to pay a $500-4000 third-party testing fee? Well … no. But this law addresses all toys, no matter where they were made, no matter where they are sold and no matter what materials are used.
The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude 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, is that small-batch, micro-business handmade toys (like the one pictured) will no longer be affordably legal in the US. Etsy did a video interview with one such toymaker who will inevitably go out of business if provisions for small business are not put in this law.
What you can do to help – sign the petition, join their Facebook group, write to the CPSIA, research more (the Etsy Discussion Forum about this potential law is here) and write your lawmakers here and here. There’s a sample letter here.
Here’s the one I just wrote and sent to our Washington State lawmakers.
I am writing about the Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA). The way it is currently written, it will put small toymakers (you know, the people you see selling old-fashioned wooden toys at holiday craft shows?) out of business.
Since the bill was primarily written to address toys imported from China, could you consider modifying the bill to have a threshold of at least 5,000 toys, made in the US, sold per year before the $4000 per toy-testing fee is attached? This bill does not address the issue – poisoning from toys imported from China – but rather, taxes all toymakers, regardless of where their toys are made or the materials used.
Please help to protect small business. The way the law is currently written, many small, unique, old-fashioned businesses will be forced to close. In a time of economic turmoil, shutting down any small businesses due to burdensome taxes is a shame.
Anon, It’s an example of a knee-jerk reaction law (protect US consumers from products coming in from countries with weak environmental consumer protections) that unfortunately wasn’t thought out well enough.
I saw this on tv and it also effects small resale shops and consignment shops as the toys they have and clothes will have to be tested for lead, ect. They even said a person selling items at a garage sale could be impacted as it would make it illegal to sell these items without them being tested first! How stupid!!!
Hi Carrin –
Glad to see that we’re sending you traffic and potential business – yipppeee! I understand what you mean about bandwidth though. I’ve pulled the live link off.
Let me know if you want me to toss it back on any time =))
Down To Earth Toys says
I’m so glad you posted about the CPSIA issue…what a potential mess. Can you do me a favor, though (I can’t find an other way to contact you through your blog…sorry), and remove the hotlink from the image on this post….it is really eating up the bandwidth on my site.
Teresa R says
I’ve signed the petition and joined the FB page. Your letter is eloquent!
Great letter! This is a huge issue to a small community, but letters like those will make an impact, I hope!