Friday, 19 December 2008

Please help independent crafters!

A new law may be passed in the U.S. that requires all toys and childrens' garments to be tested at the manufacturer's expense before they can be sold. These tests can cost thousands of dollars and will probably wipe all small and independent businesses off the face of the earth if the law is passed. More info from the Craftzine blog:

We've been following the CPSIA [Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act] development, and it's apparent the groundswell of protest is in full swing.

Petitions are being signed by the thousands, letters are being sent to Congress, and small business owners are mobilizing to take action against what they believe are unreasonable demands being placed on them by a law that will take effect on February 10. The new legislation will mandate that every part of a child's toy and clothing be tested for lead before it can be sold to the public.

The law was passed in response to high levels of lead being found in toys manufactured in Chinese factories, but does not take into account the thousands of small businesses who make toys and clothes in much smaller numbers, and many of them by hand in their own homes or workshops. If the law goes into effect as it's currently written, they will have to pay up to thousands of dollars to test just one set of handmade goods.

The lead test costs a minimum of US$180 [I have read of higher figures, ranging up to US$500 per component], and every part of the sample toy or garment would need to be tested separately before the product would be deemed safe. This includes buttons, thread, nuts and bolts, etc. Those who make one-off items would need to have every single item that they made tested. Incorporating this cost into the sale price of the item/s would make it impossible for independent crafters to make a living. I understand that it's important to keep children safe and not expose them to toxins where possible, but this Bill is very poorly thought-through. For more thoughts on the wider implications, see this blog post.

If you sell anything on Etsy or another U.S.-based website that could be construed as a toy or children's item, then you will be affected. I will be.

Please sign the online petition.


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