CPSIA: One little law that will drastically change life as we know it.

cpsiaThink I’m exaggerating? If you’ve heard of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act then you already know that I’m not. If you haven’t, imagine this:

As of February 10th, every single item manufactured for children ages 12 and under — everything E-VER-Y-THING that a child MIGHT use — will be required to undergo costly testing for lead and pthalates, or be destroyed. It will be illegal to sell these items, and therefore they must be discarded, thrown away, into our landfills. Everybody who sells these items, large companies, small companies, home business, second hand stores, that cannot afford to meet these new requirements will be forced to stop selling children’s products or go out of business. These people, now without a job, will be forced to find a new way to provide for their families, in an already difficult job market. Our fragile economy, will be dealt a serious blow (and let’s face it – can it really handle this kind of blow without crossing the line into full-blown Depression??) because of one well-intentioned, but poorly executed law.

It gets worse. Those who CAN afford to comply with the law, will have to raise the prices on their products. Drastically. Because the cost of each and every one of their component materials will increase drastically since the tests required are highly expensive and required for each component even if already tested for another product  (some people suggest there are other efficient methods of testing that are significantly less expensive.) The big companies will still be able to make and sell their products, at a higher price, but who will be able to buy them? Many people will be out of jobs, and many others – effected by a tight economy worsened by a sudden influx of bankruptcies – will not have room in their budgets. Since clothing, shoes, ponytail holders, toothbrushes, and backpacks will now cost so much more, people will have to curb their spending on toys, board games, books, craft supplies and other accessories. And what about children’s furniture? Already expensive, the prices are sure to skyrocket. Don’t believe me? See THIS. Or any of THESE.

Even organic items, items whose testing process is much more strict than the requirements of this law, will have to undergo these specific tests. Organic items are already more expensive and like everything else, they will either fall by the wayside or undergo a price hike. Bye bye lovely organic fill-in-the-blanks. And can you IMAGINE baby items? Diapers, bottles, wipes, rattles, toys, teethers – You’d sure better hope they can get some replacement diapers back on the shelves – PRONTO!

Imagine also what this does for schools. As of February 10th, everything in their classrooms will not be tested and approved materials. I don’t think they’ll be required to throw that all away, but when they look to replace those things -  crayons, books, scissors, glue, paper, tissue, tape, desks, chairs, math manipulatives, you name it – they’ll have to look for approved ones – and they’ll have to pay the higher price, too. Similarly, libraries will have to pull all the books from their children’s section, as they’ll no longer be allowed to loan them out to children.

On top of that – second hand stores, yard sales, etsy, ebay, craigs list – say goodbye to finding children’s items here. You won’t be able to run out and buy used items to avoid paying the higher prices because nobody will be selling them. Small businesses can’t afford the tests, individuals CERTAINLY can’t. And I’m not sure whether or not we’ll be able to give stuff away with places like Freecycle or not. The law is very broad and very vague. And the penalties so steep that people will not want to risk it.

I’m not even sure how long it will take for the fortunate companies to put out new products. How long will we have to wait for new books, clothes, shoes, toys, games, hair accessories, toiletries and all the many things affected by this law?

The worst part is that the children will be the ones who suffer the most, and this law was created to protect them. Don’t get me wrong – safer products is a GREAT idea. But as I said in the beginning, the execution of this idea STINKS. This law is TOO broad and TOO vague and combined with the fact that it will placed into immediate effect (rather than, say, a transition period) the end results are sure to be disastrous.

So what can we do? There is little much that CAN be done. But we CAN do, we MUST do, and we must do it NOW.

This law has already been passed. It will take effect on February 10th. There is a committee that has been put together to further define and regulate this law, but they have not had enough time to fully address all the issues at hand. There is really only one person who can choose to delay this law and allow more time for improvement of the CPSIA law before it goes into effect. That person is Representative Waxman, and you can read more about why you NEED to contact Waxman over at The Common Room. You can and should contact your representatives as well, asking them to Contact Waxman as well and encourage him to delay this law for further review.  And by contact, I  mean phone calls. At this point, we’ve written all the letters we can write, we need to CALL them.

Maybe I am exaggerating. Maybe when it goes into effect, it will have been improved and made better and things won’t get this bad.

And then again, maybe I’m right. Maybe they’ll rush this through without making the necessary changes. How will our country fare if that happens? What will happen to our economy then? How will we adapt and cope with the giant void created by mass product abandonment? How will our landfills accept the hoards of items now deemed toxic across the board with one wave of a hand? The world I envision is a dark and troubled place. And my friends, I pray that I’m letting my imagination run away with me. I really do.

I’m not saying this is the end of the world. I’m just saying, this will completely change life as we know it.

Please, spread the word. Don’t think this won’t effect you just because you don’t have young kids.

Call your representatives. Call Mr. Waxman. Call the commitee. Call the President! Call anybody you can call. In the early stages, Mr. Waxman was quoted as saying he didn’t think there’d be much response to this if they held a hearing. So. He. Thinks. CALL.

Read more information about CPSIA, how this effects others, and who to contact:

And if you REALLY want to do more research, here’s a whole HOST of articles gathered together in one place:

Photo Credit: Hasenpfeffer Inc.

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January 29, 2009 7:10 am

This law is insane! I contacted my congressman a few weeks ago and actually got a reply that he was trying to get it amended, so at least SC sees that it is a terrible thing.

I sell Usborne books, and while all our product already has the necessary certificates, I am wondering how the new law will effect the schools and libraries I work with.

This thing is scary!

Amanda’s last blog post..The Pain of a Giveaway

Courtney @ Sister To Sister
Courtney @ Sister To Sister
January 29, 2009 10:23 am

Thank you for this! We need to make people aware of how much this law is going to effect us as a society!

I love your blog and passed an award on to you. Thanks!

January 29, 2009 11:14 am

It’s because of this law that toys are on sale at target and other stores. I thought they did have a transition period. I remember when this law got passed, and companies were complaining that they already had their toys made for the holiday season and they won’t make a profit, so the compliance date was moved from last fall to mid-February. Anyway, I feel the same way about this law. I think it’s a very good law, with good intentions (no more toxic toys) but I don’t like how it affects e-bay and other smaller businesses, especially organic sellers,… Read more »

January 29, 2009 12:00 pm

I’m not sure. Perhaps the August to February was intended as a transition period to give toymakers the chance to change their methods and produce new items to go on the shelves in February. The thing is, none of the small business and home businesses knew about this until January. This has only been going around the internet for about the last month. And every time I talk about it to people, here in town, I find people that don’t know about it. Between that, the high cost of testing and their refusal to delay and redefine the law, it… Read more »

January 29, 2009 6:37 pm

I just can’t believe small businesses didn’t know about this law. Last fall it hit every news source out there, from national like GMA, to local. Since then, this law has been frequently reported on and blogged about on many news sites, including the natural news and alternative and “anarchist” news sites I visit. Unless these businesses owners didn’t have access to technologly, they’ve should’ve known about it. Especially since I knew about it and recalled the law when I was at the store wondering about the toys on sale. And i’m just a consumer, not a merchant or manufactor.… Read more »

January 29, 2009 6:38 pm

Colleen – I can’t explain the lack of knowledge. Maybe not everybody was as quick to pay attention, I don’t recall hearing about this back in August – or at least not the full extent of what it would do. Maybe it’s a difference in varying degrees of news coverage – even the Forbes articles talked about the news media largely under-covering and down-playing this law and everything it covered. I think the loudest cry, and the largest outrage comes from “the cottage industry”, or maybe that’s just because that’s the industry I’m connected to and that’s what I am… Read more »

Wacky Hermit
Wacky Hermit
January 29, 2009 7:18 pm

Colleen, not all of us have the luxury of following every detail of our industry news. First off, a lot of home-based crafters had no idea that other people considered them part of an “industry”. I know I didn’t– is there even a “crochet industry?” I know of other crocheters, but I know of none that use my business model, where I contract out crochet for wholesale orders. Second, a lot of home-based businesses are worked concurrently with raising a family, suffering from fibromyalgia, tending to special-needs kids, and doing other stuff that’s not conducive to following industry news. In… Read more »

January 29, 2009 7:54 pm

I’ll admit there is probably a small minority who didn’t have access to the news when this first came out, but those people aren’t the only ones claiming they didn’t know. When local news stations, reuters, AP, CNN, even Good Morning America and talk shows mention this new law (praising it of course) for two months (September through October), pleading ignorance isn’t an excuse that will encourage lawmakers to delay this law. If the law says “novelty” items aren’t allowed, i’m sure people will find a way to get around the law, even if it means making there stuff and… Read more »

January 29, 2009 9:28 pm

Another good blog article: The evils of CSPIA

January 29, 2009 9:29 pm

Kay, it doesn’t look like it.. but that blog post is linked. I’ll have to go look into the code for the text color of links in comments. . .

January 30, 2009 9:38 am

Another link worth including (source used by Walter Olsen, The Common Room, WSJ, NYP, WWD, CAN etc) is Fashion-Incubator which was the first site on the web to promote the problems with CPSIA and remains a source of solid information and practical advice. Next week I will be returning to Washington DC for a meeting with the Product Safety Council and will be reporting what findings I am permitted to release at that time, so you may want to keep watch since any forthcoming news is released there first.

Antique Mommy
Antique Mommy
January 30, 2009 9:47 am

And next, we’ll put a fence around the Grand Canyon. We have come to a truly paralyzing and ridiculous place in our society in the name of safety. If this passes, there will be a tremendous black market.

Antique Mommy’s last blog post..Joy Crosses The Placenta

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