Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Important Matter

Some of you have already seen this information, but it needs to be passed on. A law passed last August that is about to take effect (Feb. 10) could make it illegal to sell used children's clothing, books, toys, and a whole host of other products; in addition, craft vendors, makers of handmade toys and goods, and even small homeschool curricula providers may have to stop selling items for children under 12 as well, unless they are willing to have every item tested for lead and phthalates:
Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing.

The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger -- including clothing -- be tested for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. Those that haven't been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.

"They'll all have to go to the landfill," said Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Assn. of Resale and Thrift Shops.

The new regulations take effect Feb. 10 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which was passed by Congress last year in response to widespread recalls of products that posed a threat to children, including toys made with lead or lead-based paint. [...]

But others say the measure was written too broadly. Among the most vocal critics to emerge in recent weeks are U.S.-based makers of handcrafted toys and handmade clothes, as well as thrift and consignment shops that sell children's clothing.

"We will have to lock our doors and file for bankruptcy," said Shauna Sloan, founder of Salt Lake City-based franchise Kid to Kid, which sells used children's clothing in 75 stores across the country and had planned to open a store in Santa Clara, Calif., this year.
This website has more information about how this might affect handmade children's toys and goods:
For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers and manufacturers of children's products, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.
  • A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $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 cloth diapers to sell online must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
  • A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
  • 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 Handmade Toy Alliance website also contains information on how to find and contact your members of Congress to demand that small cottage industries and resale shops be exempt from these requirements. I encourage you to do this, if you haven't already.

The last thing we need is a federal law making it illegal to "recycle" gently used children's clothes and goods, not to mention shut down cottage industries, small publishers, and others who make goods for children. The lead-paint problem didn't come from resold children's bibs or US-made toys; it came from overseas. There's just no reason to punish small American businesses for the shoddy oversight of our large disloyal multinational corporations who turn blind eyes to unsafe products so long as the profit margin is high enough.


Charlotte said...

Oh Erin! This is TERRIBLE!!!! Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. I just emailed my congressman, and I'm going to link to my blog.

The liberals can't have it both ways! They can't force us to "reduce, recycle, and reuse" but then also force us to test everything before doing so. It makes no sense.

kathy said...

Okay, so I've been dismayed over this law and its unintended effects for a while now. But I must caution everyone that asking for exemptions for small businesses is probably a bad idea. I'm not smart enough to have realized this on my own, but I've been reading posts from the "war room" of a manufacturing group. Here's a post that explains why:

That said, I do think it's important to lobby for reasonable testing standards (allowing manufacturer certifications for some things rather than requiring unit testing).

And to eliminate resale shops from legislation. On second thought, probably just the clothes should be exempt. Otherwise, you'll have a store like Tuesday Morning, which buys inventory from other stores (pretty sure this is right) full of lead toys. Anyway, there's got to be a more reasoned approach to this part of the problem as well.