(The following text may be found on Little Ida)
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.
What can you do to help?
Toy stores, Toymakers and others in the industry:
Join the Handmade Toy Alliance- http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org
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.