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December 15th, 2008

“Ball of confusion, oh yeah; that’s what the world is today, hey…” Those are the lyrics (originally sung by The Temptations) that come to mind when reading about the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, or CPSIA for short. I’ve tried reading the info on the CPSIA website but my brain quickly becomes its own ball of confusion. What does it all mean for small business who manufacture/design/create products geared toward children age 12 and under? Will they (us included) go bankrupt because we can’t afford third-party testing of our products to certify they do not contain lead or phthalates?

We are still doing our research but we have done enough to know reform is necessary to keep thousands of small business from closing their doors. “The CPSIA: Good in Theory, Hurting Small, Favorite Green Businesses in Practice” from The Smart Mama is a great post outlining the impact of the CPSIA on small and not-so-small business. It gives a better picture about what types of products/business are affected and the types of testing involved. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

On August 14, 2008, President Bush signed into law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). It was drafted as a toy safety law in response, at least in part, to the numerous recalls in 2007 for lead in children’s toys and jewelry. It was also drafted in response to the tragic death of a 4 year old after ingesting a charm that was almost pure lead.

It was designed to be a toy safety law, but its reach is much, much broader. And, like all broadly written, reactionary laws, it has very significant, it appears largely unforeseen consequences. Like perhaps putting out of business thousands of small manufacturers of children’s products, including some of my favorites – the small manufacturers of reusable cloth diapers, natural wood toys, handcrafted costumes, and innovative children’s products.


She promises to have another post on the phthalate portion of the CPSIA next, and we’ll be on the lookout for it.

Another site serving as a clearinghouse for info is NationalBankruptcyDay.com: “February 10, 2009 untold numbers of children’s products manufacturers and retailers will be closing their doors.” Sounds like a national bankruptcy day to me. This site has the most recent info and FAQs on the new legislation with links to how you can get involved, from forums to writing the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and your legislator.

Z Recommends, one of my most favorite sites for children’s product reviews, safety information and pretty much everything a parent needs to know, just posted “Five steps you can take to save natural/handmade companies from the CPSC and CPSIA“:

Livelihoods, work-at-home arrangements, and the availability of handmade and natural products for our children are at stake. Here are five things you can do today to help force Congress to address the mess they’ve made before the law goes into effect on February 10, 2009.

The steps are fairly straightforward and require only a small amount of time. You might think the new CPSIA doesn’t affect you, but even if you don’t design and sell children’s products, you probably buy them. With the way the CPSIA is now, you will have far less products from which to choose and the ones left on the shelves may carry a price tag no one can afford.

LeShan and I are still learning the ins and outs of the CPSIA but you can bet we’re doing our part to make reform happen. Because if it stays as is, you will no longer see georgie tees cute infant onesies and tees online or in boutiques…—Emily

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