Friday, December 19, 2008

Did you know...

that a law will go into effect on February 10, 2009 that will force Elle Belle and nearly all other handmade crafters of children and baby items to go out of business?

My understanding of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is that it requires that all products (toys, strollers, clothing, diapers, slings… ALL products) intended for children under the age of 12 be tested for lead and other harmful contaminates. Once the product is found to be free of or within the minimum allowable level of contaminates, a certificate will be issued for all future runs of that particular product, and must be included with the product at the point of sale. Every material used in the product must be individually tested and every variance in color must be tested as well. For example, an Elle Belle embroidered sling would require testing on the fabric, the thread used to sew the sling, each color of thread used in the embroidered design, the rings, and the label I sew into the seem. If the manufacturers of the materials are required to supply a certificate for their item (like the rings from Sling Rings that I use in the construction of my slings) their certificate would not be sufficient for my use in certifying Elle Belle slings… every manufacturer must obtain their own testing and certificate for the completed product. The testing is to be conducted by a 3rd party and is expensive. I’ve seen estimates from other sling makers who have determined that the cost to test and certify just one sling would be between $300 and $2,500. If the law goes into effect, on Feb 10th, every non certified children’s product will be considered hazardous material and can not be sold. Anyone found selling uncertified items will be subject to excessive fines (I’ve heard as much as 100,000) and even potentially jail time.

Sooooo, what will we do? In the hopes that the law will be revised, to take into consideration the small business before it goes into affect, you can reach out to your representatives to shed some light on the issue. If you don’t already know, here are the links to find out who they are: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml and Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

What follows is the open letter Etsy has written regarding this issue. I revised it just a bit to fit the perspective of it coming from me. You can just copy and paste it if you don’t feel like writing your own.

This is an opportunity to see what a grassroots movement can do, and to be an active participant in our government.

Dear Congressman,
I am among over 200,000 artists, crafters and vintage collectors that sell their items on Etsy.com. Many of us make toys and other items for children. Made with love, care, the human touch and—often—all-natural materials, these items bring the consumer marketplace back to a personal level where customers can chat with toy makers and even create custom items for specific needs. Etsy members are part of a larger movement that seeks to creatively provide people across the globe with alternatives to mass-produced goods. Many of us will be forced to close our businesses on Feb. 10th because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. What follows is an open letter written by Etsy in hopes that something can be done to ensure that small businesses and micro enterprises are being taken into account with this legislation.
Many Etsy sellers are work-at-home-moms and dads. Among them are crafters with the skill and heart to preserve traditions of toy-making or to innovate their own methods of making children's items with a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hands-on philosophy. You can meet an Etsy toy maker and seller by watching this five minute video portrait (all of our videos are published under open Creative Commons, so please feel free to repost). Amber Dusick, aka woodmouse.etsy.com and Los Angeles-based toy-maker/work-at-home-mama, is an artist who would be impacted by this proposed legislation if it is enacted. Amber uses sustainably harvested woods, non-toxic paints and beeswax along with her wood-burning tool to create simple, natural wooden toys. Her imagery is reminiscent of a child's crayon drawing come to life in wood.
Amber, like other Etsy toy makers and sellers, is fearful that as a sole proprietor she will not be able to afford the stricter regulations of the Act; the cost of testing and certification is likely beyond her means. She told Etsy, “I'd be more than happy to have each of my toys tested, if it wasn't so cost prohibitive. It is the COST involved in testing that will shut us down, it isn't that anyone refuses to have their work tested."
The Small Business Administration defines "small business" as under 500 employees. Most of our Etsy members are either sole proprietors or maybe a family or studio of friends working together. Many craftspeople on Etsy have told us that they could be put out of business if forced to comply with the proposed legislation. This is the painful irony bound up in the CPSIA.
Our members would like to better understand how the CPSIA took into account these smaller businesses operating with fewer resources for testing and compliance. We believe Etsy artisans are pro-testing and pro-safety; the problem is the prohibitive certification costs relative to their small businesses' incomes. Our community is concerned that this legislature disregards small businesses in its attempts to regulate large corporate entities.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (the CPSIA), and on August 14, 2008, President Bush signed the Act into law. Further information on the Act is available at the CPSC website at http://www.cpsc.gov/ and helpful FAQs are located http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/faq.pdf.

7 comments:

AKDesigns Boutique Blog said...

I will write my congressman! I just read about this on BlogHer yesterday and you were the first person I thought of ~ I hope it doesn't pass.

kathleen said...

Thanks for publicizing this! May I also suggest visiting the War Room for up to the minute updates and focused activism? http://tinyurl.com/5fhzbd. My site is focusing on education and activism for producers of sewn products. There’s tons of solid information there from attorneys and scientists. You won’t find any mythinformation there.

storybeader said...

this is a horrible position to put handmade artists into. I can't believe our Congress is so insensitive, and downright dumb, to pay this law!

Shell Mitchell said...

I am really hoping the law will be changed before it goes into effect.

Mommy Bee said...

What a fantastic sample letter!

Patti said...

Thanks for the sample letter; one will be out to my congressment post haste!

Rationality Speaks said...

great post, more people still need to know about this

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