Monday, January 5, 2009

Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

Have you heard about this??

I got the following from

Help Us Save Handmade!

So many of you have written to us out of concern regarding the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, that we created this page as a source of information, resources and breaking news.

If you want to help spread the word, you can post this button on your blog or website. It's our hope that together, we can encourage Congress to amend the act so that we can both keep our children safe and protect the handmade toys and clothing that we love so much.
Adorable handmade bear image courtesy of Bumblebird--a true artist worth saving! And design by Laurie Smithwick of LEAP Design.



We're all for strengthening the safety standards of mass-produced toys, clothes, and accessories made in China, and banning toxins like phthalates and lead. But this year, congress passed the ill-conceived Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, a law which goes into effect in two months and will absolutely decimate the small toy manufacturers, independent artisans, and crafters who have already earned the public trust. The very same ones that we often feature here and in our yearly special edition gift guides.

With this act going into effect February 10 2009 so many people we love will be affected: Moms who sew beautiful handmade waldorf dolls out of home, artists who have spent decades hand-carving trucks and cars out of natural woods, that guy at the craft show who sold you the cute handmade puzzle--even larger US companies who employ local workers and have not once had any sort of safety issue will no longer be able to sell their goods. Not without investing tens of thousands of dollars into third-party testing and labeling, just to prove that toys that never had a single toxic chemical in them still don't have a single toxic chemical in them.
How to Get Involved -- it only takes 5 minutes of your time!

-Find your congress personand senators and write a letter like the sample here.Particularly if they serve on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection or the House Committee on Small Business.

-Send an email directly to the CPSC or contact chairperson Nancy Nord at 301-504-7923

-Vote for amending the law on, digg style: With enough votes it will be presented to President Obama in January!

-Place the Save Handmade! button on your blog or website to help spread the word to everyone you know who cares about protecting the little guy and preserving beautiful items made with love for our children.
Fantastic Resources

-The Handmade Toy Alliance (check out their proposed changes, a lot of which make a whole lot of sense

-CPSIA Facebook Group

-CPSIA information group on ning

-Z Recommends: Five steps you can take to save natural toys (excellent reading)

-Handcrafivist Channel on youtube with updated news stories and videos

-Fashion Incubator

-The Smart Mama

-Etsy business forums (including this specific thread on local media coverage

-Twitter: Search using the #CPSIA hashtag

-Endangered Whimsy - a blog gallery of handmade products endangered by the CPSIA. Feel free to submit yours.

-Video: Handmade Portraits

-Excellent letter from Rick Woldenberg, Chairman of Learning Resources, to CPSC on improvements to the act. Also see the You Tube videos in which he addresses the CPSC panel in November. Well worth a watch. (1 of 3)

Press, related posts and late-breaking news

Jan 5 via ETSY's The Storque: the CPSC expresses a desire to talk with the crafting community. Yay!
January 5 is the deadline for comments to the CPSC regarding components testing and natural material exemptions! Use this link for the CPSC comment form (pdf).
Rescue Marketing: "Heard in the slammer: "I used to make handmade toys"
Story on WFCR, Western New England's NPR Station
GreatWashington Post article on the cost of testing for toymakers.
LA Times: New safety rules for children's clothes have stores in a fit.
AP story: Toy Companies Cheer Proposed Lead Rule Change (there is hope!) ABC News picks it up too.

Contra-Costa Times: Lead Testing Law Will Ruin Biz
Wonderland at Alpha Mom: The Act That Could Kill Handmade
Fantastic response from Senator Majority Leader Patrick Leahy (D-VT): 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 stay competitive. (Other Senators, take note!)

Celebrity Baby Blog - with great sample letter to Congress

WSMV 4 Nashville news segment (inspired in part by our post, yay!)

Digital Journal article: "New child product safety law threatens all US homecraft businesses" (with great mentions about how reselling items on Ebay and Craig's List will also be illegal)

Boston Herald: "Small toy stores fear new US regulations" (Promising quote: according to Brin Frazier, spokesman for Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce... “Manufacturers and distributors already selling safe toys that comply with the new standards should not have to incur prohibitive costs for compliance.”)

Activism alert: Etsy artists band together and send handmade toys to Congressman Rush
Patriot Ledger Editorial: "New law to put thousands of out work"

Boing Boing: "Consumer safety rule could drive crafters out of business" "Good intentions lead to catastrophic results for the natural toy industry"

Wall Street Journal: "Vendors urge relaxed lead safety rule" (despite the misleading headline)

DaddyTypes: "Is CPSC's new lead regulation going to wipe out the baby non-industrial complex next February?"

Eco Child's Play: "New consumer safety laws will make handmade, natural toys illegal"

Mom-101: "In support of work-at-home moms and other reasons to defeat the CPSIA act"

ETSY open letter on CPSIA

Startup Nation: Will CPSIA affect you? Have some news for us or want more info?

Contact Liz and Kristen at with SAVE HANDMADE in the subject.


I received this email today with a bit more information...

This came from LuminousMom on

I know this is long, but it is important. There is alot of panic in the handmade nation right now.. because this law directly affects us in an unfair way. We are doing everything we can to have it modified to include us, to be fair to us.. but at this point, we are being treated the same as big industry.. and while this will not affect them substantially, it WILL affect us. Hundreds, if not thousands, of crafters across our country will be put out of business. Those crafters are not only an integral part of not only the local economy but they supply quality handmade goods as an alternative to mass produced and wasteful big box store goods. They will not be able to do what they do anymore if this law does not add an amendment for us.

So as a crafter this has hit home for me, last night my DH and I, and my mom on the phone.. sat down and read the 68 pages line by line, to see where I and my business fit into this.

This affects anyone who sells goods to children under the age of 12, anyone who HAS children under the age of 12, anyone who MAKES goods for children under the age of 12, and anyone who buys things for children under the age of 12.

For those who don't know, the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) is an act designed to protect our children from unsafe toys, aka.. lead at excessive levels.. and that's a noble cause, HOWEVER, this act requires ANY item designed, marketed to, intended for use by, or looks like it could be designed FOR any child under the age of 12 must be tested.

Sounds like a good idea, but you have to consider that the cost for these tests (estimates on different websites vary) have ranged from $100.00 to $4000.00. Even if we assume its $100.00, the average crafter cannot afford to have every "batch" of their craft tested. This act is poorly written and doesn't address the REAL problem... it forces testing on products manufactured in the US, when our products weren't the problem to begin with.

We should be forcing testing on every product IMPORTED to the US, but a witch hunt on good American companies making good healthy products is not helping. In this economy, do we really need to put more of a burden on our businesses? THIS AFFECTS EVERYONE!

This affects at home care-takers, daycares, and schools... as your cribs and any toy items must be tested for lead. This affects crafters, of course. This affects Re-sellers, such as Salvation army and others, as THEIR apparel and toys must be tested. This affects GARAGE SALES. According to this act, you CANNOT sell any item for children under the age of 12 which has not been certified to meet the legal levels of lead. I am NOT joking, that is in the act. It is breaking the law to do so, and the fines are high.

Here's an example... if a bib maker makes 10 different styles of bib, with two fabrics on each bib, velcro, and heavy weight sew in.. she must have all10 of those bibs tested, at the $100 a pop (or more) and if she sews a different style, even using the same fabrics, THAT must be tested. EVERY time she makes a new batch, they must be tested.. even if they use the same supplies. She must also PERMANENTLY label her items with the batch number, so consumers can know when it was made and what batch it came from. If a dress maker who makes children's dresses sews 20 different dresses, in 3 sizes each, she must have ALL sizes of all 20 dresses tested, even if they are made of the same fabric. That's 60 tests.

And don't think this doesn't affect ADULT apparel makers too, because it does... how many of you have 12 year olds who wear "adult" clothing? Not all 12 year olds shop in the junior section.. so adult clothing manufacturers will have to take extra precaution to ensure their products are never marketed to anyone under the age of 12, it goes so far as to say they cannot APPEAL to children under the age of 12. The law STATES that.. how can a dress maker ensure their product doesn't appeal to a child under the age of 12? Small businesses CANNOT absorb the costs of this, they will either close their doors or raise their prices.. or stop selling items for children under the age of 12.

We all buy our products (materials) from retailers here in the US... surely if those products (materials) were tested that would be good enough, right? No. The finished product must be tested, regardless of the materials being safe.

Here are some TRUE-VRS-FALSE things we managed to find, in regards to this Act, and how it will affect CRAFTERS specifically, of any item for children under the age of 12.

Statement - certain things will be exempt for testing, like apparel, because fabric doesn't have lead in it.

FALSE- all items marketed to, designed for, advertised as, or for use by a child under the age of 12 must be tested for lead, even if it does not contain any. In 180 days, must test less than 600 parts per million. In 365 days, must test less than 300 parts per million. in 3 years from date of enactment, must test less than 100 parts per million. WHAT the item is does not matter. It MUST test if it is to be used by a child under the age of 12.

Statement - on Feb 10th the store shelves will be empty, everything not tested must be disposed of.

FALSE-all items made before Feb. 10th are exempt, luckily there was an amendment added (thank you pumpkinhaus for pointing that out on another post!!) This is good news for those of us who already have things made, we can continue to sell them after Feb. 10th. This means 3 years from now, you could still be buying something that was not tested.. basically making this Act useless, in a way.

Statement - on Feb 10th you must stop selling anything which has not been tested (that you made AFTER feb 10th)

FALSE- all items are subject to an up to 10 month grace period for testing.. you have up to 10 months to have them tested and have certificates for every item to prove you had them tested (if you can afford to have them tested) You have up to a YEAR to have them labeled with date of production and batch number. ACTUAL TIME LINE FOR ACCREDITATION-ITEMS WITH PAINT - NO MORE THAN 30 DAYSCRIBS, PACIFIERS - NO MORE THAN 60 DAYS SMALL PARTS - NO MORE THAN 90 DAYSCHILDRENS METAL JEWELRY - NO MORE THAN 120 DAYSBABY BOUNCERS, WALKERS - NO MORE THAN 210 DAYSALL OTHER CHILDRENS PRODUCT SAFETY RULES - NO MORE THAN 310 DAYS (10 MONTHS)

Statement - All cribs must be tested if they are to be used in a daycare, home care facility, or to be re-sold (such as a hand-me down store, or consignment shop) CRIBS and DURABLE INFANT PRODUCTS appear NOT to be exempt from the pre-feb 10th rule. They MUST be tested, regardless of when they were made, or so it seems. I am HOPING this is ammended.

TRUE - It shall be a violation of section 19(a)(1) of the Consumer Product Safety Act for any person to which this applies to manufacture (make), sell (store or otherwise), contract to sell or resell (consignment store), lease, sublet, offer, provide for use (give away!!) or otherwise place in the stream of commerce a crib which is not in compliance with a standard promulgated under subsection (b). (meaning it must meet the lead levels I mentioned above... 600 parts per million, then 300.. maybe 100 eventually).

This applies to any person that - (a) MANUFACTURES, DISTRIBUTES, OR CONTRACTS TO SELL CRIBS; (Salvation army, Consignment stores, Goodwill, Garage sales, Deseret Industries, Baby stores, Walmart.. it affects ANYONE who wants to SELL a crib.)(B) BASED ON THE PERSON OCCUPATION, HOLDS ITSELF OUT AS HAVING KNOWLEDGE OR SKILL PECULIAT TO CRIBS, INCLUDING CHILD CARE FACILITIES AND FAMILY CARE HOMES; (Daycares, at home care facilities, babysitters, ANYONE who has children in their home and receive pay for it.)(C) IS IN THE BUSINESS OF CONTRACTING TO SELL OR RESELL, LEASE, SUBLET, OR OTHERWISE PLACE CRIBS IN THE STREAM OF COMMERCE; OR (Consignment, Salvation army, Crib retailers, Baby Boutiques)(D) OWNS OR OPERATES A PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMODATION AFFECTING COMMERCE (HOTELS)BASICALLY - THIS AFFECTS ALL OF YOU! According to the way this law is written, it would be ILLEGAL for your sister to give you her crib without having it tested. It would be illegal to sell a crib which has not been tested, even illegal to give it away. Cribs should be tested, but there should be an exemption or "grandfather" clause for ones already in circulation! I cant afford to have my kids crib tested so I can donate it after she doesn't need it anymore.. I KNOW Goodwill cant afford to have all kids cribs tested before they can sell or donate them.

This is REDICULOUS. All "Durable infant or toddler products" must be tested... those are defined as:(A) Full size cribs and nonfull-size cribs; (B) toddler beds; (C) high chairs, booster chairs, and hook-on chairs; (D) bath seats; (E) gates and other enclosures for confining a child; (F) play yards; (G) stationary activity centers; (H) infant carriers; (I) strollers; (J) walkers; (K) swings; and (L) bassinets and cradles.

ALL of those items are included in the law I posted above, ALL are illegal to sell or give away, even by you, without a lead test certification.If you planned to donate your children's old items, you cant. If you planned to give them to a friend, you cant. If you planned to sell them, you definitely cant. According to this law, as it is written right now, you CANT. its ILLEGAL. (to find out what you can do, keep reading)

1) DEFINED TERMS- As used in this section

(A) The term `phthalate alternative' means any common substitute to a phthalate, alternative material to a phthalate, or alternative plasticizer

(B) The term `children's toy' means a consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays

(C) The term `child care article' means a consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age 3 and younger, or to help such children with sucking or teething. (PAJAMAS, BEDDING, BLANKETS, BIBS, PACIFIERS, TEETHERS, BOWLS, SPOONS, FORKS, CUPS, HIGHCHAIRS, ANYTHING TO HELP A CHILD SLEEP, EAT, SUCK, OR TEETH)

(D) The term `consumer product' has the meaning given such term in section 3(a)(1) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2052(a)(1)).

(A) AGE- In determining whether products described in paragraph (1) are designed or intended for use by a child of the ages specified, the following factors shall be considered:

(i) A statement by a manufacturer about the intended use of such product, including a label on such product if such statement is reasonable.

(ii) Whether the product is represented in its packaging, display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate for use by children of the ages specified.

(iii) Whether the product is commonly recognized by consumers as being intended for use by a child of the ages specified.

(iv) The Age Determination guidelines issued by the Commission staff in September 2002 and any successor to such guidelines.

(B) TOY THAT CAN BE PLACED IN A CHILD'S MOUTH- For purposes of this section a toy can be placed in a child's mouth if any part of the toy can actually be brought to the mouth and kept in the mouth by a child so that it can be sucked and chewed. If the children's product can only be licked, it is not regarded as able to be placed in the mouth. If a toy or part of a toy in one dimension is smaller than 5 centimeters, it can be placed in the mouth.

Statement - well how will they know we are not complying? They wont worry about us, we're small potatoes.

TRUTH - Maybe, maybe not. Is it a risk you are willing to take? I listed the fines below. Just be aware, in the UK they have had tougher toy laws for a long time.. as a result, their toys are safer.. but also as a result, crafters are subject to having their product confiscated, even at craft shows, if they do not comply with the law and regulations. YES, they can find you. Will they? Maybe not.. but I am not willing to risk a $100,000 fine to find out.

1 comment:

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