Tuesday, January 27, 2009


That would be the proposed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which is scheduled to take effect February 10. Ok, so I am a bit late on the bandwagon. I love Etsy and shopping homemade items, buying unique items as much as I like creating them. I prefer to give gifts that aren't made by the millions, full of breakable plastic parts, need replacement batteries every month and are quickly tossed out to make room for next years Christmas overload. Yes, we have millions of legos in this house, but we PLAY with them. We collect them, we add to them, we imagine. Rarely rarely does one break and batteries are not neccesary. All the things I like in a handmade toy, whether purchased from Etsy or elsewhere. I even have a notebook in my side table full of ideas and items I can actually make that would sell great on Etsy. Someday. Gardening aprons, doll clothes, dollhouse bedding - if I make these for my girls, certainly I can make them to sell, right? But if this law passes, not only will *I* not have a chance to do this, but many people will lose income, some small shops may lose their whole business, which leads to more bad economic news. Local doll sellers at craft shows, quilters of baby blankets, etc. - well, they can forget it.

For a great example of the ridiculousness, click here http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19887302 My mother used to make wonderful stuffed cats from quilting material, a little felt, embroidery thread and stuffing. She sold them at local craft shows. I've used the pattern and given many as gifts myself. When this law goes into effect, she also would have to pay for testing if she were still in business. Think about that a second. Quilting purchased off a bolt at a local fabric shop, felt, sewing and embroidery thread, cotton stuffing or fiberfill - all purchased from someplace else where it should already have been tested... (edited to shorten and add that last night I read cotton cloth had been exempted. That's a start).

But that's not all. I have read here & there that this has the potential to apply to books in libraries, schools, etc. Can you imagine? "No children under age 12 allowed in libraries." Now, I can't say this IS so, because I haven't read the whole act and all the answers to questions posted, etc. But it is being talked about as possible, and you know libraries can't afford to test each and every book. And school libraries? Forget it.

I have read a few of the questions - for instance regarding ball point pens. One comment mentions lead in the ball point of some pens. However since these products are not typically marketed to children 12 and under, they are exempt. Interesting since my 11 year old uses ball point pens and I see some of her friends chewing on them. How about the fact that phthalate limits for toys do not apply to childrens shoes or socks. No, they are not toys, but I know of many children, 3 girls in particular, who went through a chewing on socks and shoes phase. I'm not saying that pens or shoes and socks SHOULD be required to be tested** - just that some areas of this Act have been well thought out, while there are inconsistencies and what seems to be almost no thought considering others. It just isn't ready.

It is neccesary to protect our children. But there are smarter ways to go about it. Please click on the teddybear link to the right and read more about the Act in its current form, what you can do, and who is proposing sound changes that could make this law helpful and useful without being hurtful. With current economic issues, this is not the time to stomp on the little guy, or even the middle guy who is trying to provide a service to make some money to pay the bank to feed a family.

** Edited to add, after thinking a little while - I'd rather have shoes and socks, and maybe footy-pajamas with those plastic feet tested. Though my children are old enough to know not to chew on their shoes and sock, and often run around the house barefoot - even in nasty winter weather - I could certainly choose organic cotton socks or buy them slippers made from organic materials so whatever they put in their mouth is safe. Well as long as you don't mind the dirt. But many people can't afford that choice. Hand-me-downs and whatever is on sale is the theme these days for many more families than usual. Personally I love hand-me-downs between the girls or from friends. Change the rules to random testing with strict penalties and exempt organic items... well. Don't get me started again. Just go read and make up your own mind, then write or call your representative. Thanks.

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