Originally Posted 05/27/2010
Today I spent most of the day researching the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) guidelines that are set to go into effect in about 250 days. These guidelines are supposed to prevent corporate manufacturers of toys and products for kids from unethical practices (making lead-filled, pthalate-soaked toys and products.) In 2007 when there were mass recalls on toys, all of them were manufactured in China where there is almost no regulation or accountability on what is produced and how it's produced for that matter. The CPSIA exists to "establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products and to reauthorize and modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission. " Basically, they're calling for testing of all products for toxins like lead and pthalates, tracking labels on all items to trace to the manufactured batch if there is a problem, certification that you comply to the rules. It's supposed to force these dirty, unconscionable corporations to abide by regular human standards, because most of us don't want toxic toys or clothes.
I'm not convinced. It won't run them out of business, and it will barely affect their business practices. Big corporations can survive this. In fact, they will THRIVE because of this. Now that they know the rules, they can figure out how to get around them and still make a buck. Meanwhile, everything is mass produced, cheaply made, disposable. Everything is outsourced. American made products are too expensive and they know it. We Americans want to consume and we want to consume now. We want what we want to be available and affordable. When it breaks or we get bored, we just throw it out and get a new one. That's the American way, right?
Unfortunately for me and many other small business owners who manufacture handmade goods that could be marketed or sold to children, who choose eco-conscious, non-toxic and/or recycled materials, who hold THEMSELVES accountable and actually care about what materials they use and whether or not it could potentially do harm, it appears there was no thought as to how we might survive. We don't want to use toxic materials. We want our products to be safe for kids! But we are called to test our items as well. Okay fine. Even if we bought items that were already tested and certified by the manufacturer of our supplies, meet the standards, etc? Yup, we're evidently expected to re-test, put tracking labels in our items, etc. all over again. It's not cheap to test. Definitely not cheap to test EVERY item. It would be impossible as a home-based business to stay in business and conform to all these expectations. We'll be run out of business. I'll be run out of business before I even really begin. Chalk another one up for the corporations.
I'm mad. I'm discouraged. I don't like the fact that there is no support for the little guy anymore. I don't want cheap, crappy products anymore. I want to know that the people who make what I buy, care about their products and care about my safety. I want what I buy to be of good quality and to last. I make products of good quality that are meant to last, and they won't cost an arm and a leg. Yeah, they might be a little more expensive than what you might find at a corporate chain store, but I stand by what I make, guarantee it will be unique and it will withstand the extra washings you'll need to do (since you only bought one skirt instead of two.) I hope I'll be around long enough to sell to you someday.
If you give a damn, visit the Handmade Toy Alliance website, write your Congressman and State Representative, know what you stand to lose: quality, unique, handmade goods. Made with care and pride, made to last and made to love. Made to support families who need the income. Maybe even made in your neighborhood.