Monday, December 5, 2011

The CPSIA and You

We've all been hearing a lot about the CPSIA recently. For those not in the know, that's the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, passed in the US in August and ready to go into effect February 10, 2009.

There are a number of provisions to the new law, and many of them are welcome and make a lot of sense. Among other things, the CPSIA requires that a company do a lot more to publicise recalls, getting information about unsafe products into the hands of those who need it more quickly. It also bans lead and phthalates in children's products. Personally, I don't see a lot to object to in either of those goals.

Another thing it does, however, is require testing for lead in 'all consumer products primarily intended for children twelve years of age or younger.' Said testing must be performed by an accredited third-party laboratory. (Information from the official CPSIA site; I suggest taking a look at this for further information.)

Who does it apply to? Perhaps it might be of more use to say who it doesn't apply to. For starters, this is a United States legislation; if you do not live in or sell anything to anyone in the US, you don't need to worry about it. The CPSIA also doesn't apply to you if you don't sell anything intended for the use of children under the age of twelve.

Which doesn't include a lot of things. But in addition to toys it does include products like:

  • Children's clothing
  • Sporting equipment
  • School supplies
  • Baseball cards
  • Bedding
Note that the above said nothing about the size of the manufacturer. It does not apply only to large toy manufacturers (many of whom could probably use more stringent testing requirements anyway). It applies to anyone who's making products intended for children 12 and under.

That's a whole lot of us, folks.

Without going into detail I'm simply going to say that the testing is out of your price range. It's certainly out of mine (and believe me, I'm glad I decided to go into bath and body instead of, say, carved wooden toys).

So what's to be done? Alas, most of what follows will only work for US residents, but some of it will still apply to people everywhere.

The goal is to convince the US government that while regulating testing for large companies is fine (and honestly a really good idea), there should be exceptions for small, home-based companies. There are a lot of ways to do this.

Here are some petitions to sign:

Petitions are great and all, but there are plenty of other things to do, too:

  • You can always write your congress person and senators; there's a sample letter here. This will be even more effective if they serve on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection or the House Committee on Small Business. Better yet, call them. Be brief, concise, and above all polite.
  • Contact local news outlets -- this is a local story as well as a national one! Find some local sellers (This link will do that on Etsy; I'm not sure how to do it on DaWanda or Artfire), especially those who sell children's things. If there's a local toy store that sells natural children's toys, they'd be great too. Ask for a business reporter and tell them that you have a number of local businesses about to be driven out by this legislation -- chances are if you do the spadework you'll soon see a story.
  • is a great place for making lots of issues heard -- check
  • here to vote for the CPSIA. The top 3 issues in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.
  • Send an email directly to the CPSC or contact chairperson Nancy Nord at 301-504-7923. While you're at it, call the CPSC ombudsman's office. The number is 888-531-9070. Again, be brief, concise, and above all polite.
  • Get the word out! Blog about it, Twitter (with hashtag #cpsia), find others blogging about the same issue and comment. There's a Facebook group, a Ning group and a thread on Etsy.
  • Here's a badge you can put on your blog or website to help spread the word.

This tale is still playing out -- let's all do what we can to keep the US friendly for small businesses.

Written by Kate of

No comments:

Post a Comment