Handmade Hooray: A CPSIA Victory!

comments (6) February 3rd, 2009     

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susanstars Susan Beal, contributor
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Last week brought some fantastic news for the handmade community—a one-year stay on the CPSIA legislation!

Last week brought some fantastic news for the handmade community—a one-year stay on the CPSIA legislation!

Photo: Susan Beal

CraftStylish user Char50 raised a great question on one of Michaela's CHA posts last month, and we wanted to follow up with some more information about it.

Has the CHA addressed how the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which takes effect on February 10th of this year will affect the millions of crafters who sell their items???? I just learned of this law today on another forum and was appalled by the overreaching scope of it.

It says in effect:
"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."

This law is going to hit thrift stores, resale shops, and presumably crafters who want to sell children's items they have made.

Last week brought some fantastic news for the handmade community, especially those who make and sell clothes, toys, and other products for children: certain sections of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which had been scheduled to become law in mid-February, were delayed until 2010. Instead of requiring any and every children's product, handmade or manufactured, to be tested for lead and other toxins, this section of the law was delayed—so costly and time-consuming testing that easily could have put both crafters and the stores that carry their work out of business, effective immediately, won't be required while the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reviews the law. However, the stay of enforcement "offers no relief from the new lead and phthalates limits themselves that will still take effect on that same date," giving the industry tougher standards to protect children from toxins.

The Craft and Hobby Association (CHA), whose convention CraftStylish visited last month, put out their own encouraging and thoughtful report on the law, too. I wanted to share part of the official update from the Craft and Hobby Association's CEO, Steven Berger:

CHA submitted a letter to the CPSC addressing the specific issue of third-party component testing and offered to participate with the Commission in a broader dialogue concerning the safety of craft and hobby products.

The CHA Board of Directors voted to organize an ongoing task force devoted to the sole issue of the CPSIA legislation.  CHA is now identifying and selecting member participants.

This week, Steve Berger contacted the office of Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and confirmed the Senator's plans to propose a bill, designed to minimize the effect of the CPSIA on small business. CHA is establishing a system whereby members can submit specific business challenges and information needs as they pertain to the CPSIA.  Watch for further information on this in the near future.

This is an important topic for our industry, and members must remain vigilant to the emerging legislation.  Following establishment of the CPSIA Task Force, CHA will continue to update members about related legislative action and implications.

So, from individual crafters to the largest industry group in America, people's voices have been heard and handmade children's products have been exempted from a broadly written law—a wonderful victory! For more on this, check out Matt and Vanessa's original announcement post at Etsy and their follow-up from Senator DeMint, urging crafters to contact their senators as well.

So, while this is great news for our handmade community, we still need to make sure that the changes are made and the law is rewritten to protect secondhand, vintage and handmade products, while targeting dangerous chemicals in mass-produced items. Please consider calling your senator to urge him or her to join Senator DeMint in the effort!

posted in: vintage, children, cha, law, cpsia, safety, craft and hobby association, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

Comments (6)

belovedbks writes: Dr. Seuss Meets the CPSIA -- http://www.easyfunschool.com/the_CPSIA_meets_Dr_Seuss.html
Posted: 1:08 am on February 25th
Char50 writes: Contacted both of my US Senators and my Congressional Representative today by email...hope they listen.

Posted: 3:20 pm on February 7th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Thanks for the update Char50. I read the WSJ piece and it was very clear: the year long stay won't matter much if the law is not amended. So, there's time to take action.
Posted: 7:06 pm on February 6th
Char50 writes: The Wall Stree Journal had an editorial in today's issue that I thought you might want to read.

Posted: 3:17 pm on February 6th
susanstars writes: Char 50, this is definitely the window for us to contact senators (either the two representing our home states, or Senator DeMint, who seems very focused on protecting small businesses - thrift stores, handmade crafters, and shop owners) and bring up the points we feel strongly about so that the law is as fair as possible. I agree that the issue of whether or not supplies - rather than handmade items made with those supplies - have toxic chemicals is what should be targeted, and this first step in delaying the law has given us the space to make our opinions known. Besides senators, you can also contact CHA, which has been a major advocate to protect its members and the craft industry in general.

We'll see how it unfolds, of course, but being proactive has certainly made a big difference so far!
Posted: 12:18 pm on February 5th
Char50 writes: Thanks for checking into it. While it is good news, as far as it goes, just how can a crafter be sure that the materials we use to make our clothing, toys, etc. are free from lead and phthalates?

We will not be held to certify that our items have been tested, but are still liable if they are found to contain them? So...we aren't totally off the hook.

Are manufacturers required to state on their labels whether or not their products contain them? Does acrylic yarn ever contain phthalates? What about plastic buttons? or the plastic eyes for a teddy bear?

I still think it's an overreach of government...over-regulation can't "protect" us from EVERYTHING...I'm tired of a NANNY big government messing in our lives.

How EVER did my generation (I'm 58) survive without government intervention? We had no child safety seats(we used to sleep on the back seat [or in a "car bed" on the back seat] or on the floor of the back seat in the car on long trips), no bike helmets, no plastic chain covers for swingsets or anchors to keep them on the ground, and there was lead in ALL the paint...there was asbestos insulation on the pipes in our classrooms and in the siding on our houses and in the linoleum on our floors...we're still here...somehow we survived...it's time for people to stop looking to BIG government to solve all their problems and time for the government to get out of our lives.
Posted: 10:35 am on February 5th
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