Thursday, January 15, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act ~or~ Bye Bye Bonnets

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Have you heard about the new law that will be going into effect February 10?

CPSIA or Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is designed to protect children from the dangers of lead poisoning.

Which is a good thing. Right?

The trouble is this legislation was very poorly written and, it would seem, scarcely thought through.

Even my baby bonnets, though they are made from materials that are not known to contain lead, will require mandatory lead testing for each component (pink thread, white thread, fabric) or I face felony charges and hefty fines. Tests have to be conducted by labs that have been approved by the Commission, and range in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Every time I buy fabric from a new bolt or a new vendor, the bonnets must be retested. When I buy thread for smocking from a new lot, they must be retested.

Or I will face felony charges.

Here is how Deputy Headmistress explains the absurdity of the law.

Imagine there are seven different etsy sellers in my town. They each crochet or knit different items for their own individual cottage industry. Grandma Jones knits dear little baby booties, Ms. Jan crochets quirky stuffed toys, Tiff crochets adorable sweaters for toddlers, Mrs. Doyle specializes in crocheted doll clothes, MeeMaw Marks Makes Crocheted Muffins, Cyndi Lou Who makes funky crocheted hair bands, scrunchies, and bows, and Miss Latedah does heirloom quality knitted or crocheted blankets. They ALL buy their yarn at the same local shop. So the shop has a special on a scrumpdillylicious shade of peach parfait one week, and they all stock up and make a couple products each using only that lovely peach parfait- the same yarn used by seven different crafters for seven different items (except Cyndi Lou, who made four different styles of hair holders with the same ball of yarn).

They each have to pay to test their yarn separately, and then when finished, they have to pay to test the finished product again (Cyndy Lou has to pay for four separate finished component tests)- even if none of the yarns or stuffing ever had lead or phthalates. And then they each have to devise a permanent label with all the info the government wants to attach to their products.

So the same batch of yarn has to be tested at least 18 different times in just my tiny local example. Those seven crafters have to use third party testing after August, so they have to package up their goods and mail them out, imposing additional burdens of time, money, and aggravation- all for the exact same batch of yarn!

(See her full post here. It is a must read.)

Since I only make a small profit on my bonnets, and since I don't want to attach a label, mandated by the government, that proclaims "LEAD FREE!" what this means for me is the end of my bonnet business.

My husband pointed out that I don't sell that many and we won't really miss the money when I stop selling them, but it's that I have been put out of business by our government that irks me.

It isn't just your friendly neighborhood bonnet smockers who will be affected, either.

What it means for all of us is higher prices for children's items, from clothes to shoes to books and toys.

It means fewer small businesses selling children's items.

If you object to this, tell the folks who represent you in Washington. For their contact information, just enter your zip code here. It is a very simple form to fill out with a space for writing your opinions.

Maybe if they hear from enough of us, we can get this law changed!


jennifer said...

WOW! I had no idea this was happening. It seems as if the thought is good...but it is not being executed properly. The people who manufacture the products you are using should have to get them tested!! Sorry this affects you in such a negative way.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they send the people over to China who came up with those regulations; they can use them there!
So, sell the bonnets for dolls...


Harmony said...

This whole thing makes me so mad. You mean they had to make this law right before I had my first baby, so I have to pay more for all my baby things? Not only that, but I can't buy beautiful handmade clothes and dolls and toys and such for my baby? So now I have to pay a premium for mass-produced baby things that will probably fall apart before the next child can use them, and they'll be the exact same thing that the baby down the street has. I can see it now, just like in A Wrinkle in Time. All the little children out bouncing their identical balls to the same beat. Ugh.

BTW, I never emailed you back to thank you for your sweet offer. You're too nice to me! Our little baby will wear it with pride - and we'll be sure to send you cute little pictures. :-)

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Susan, selling the bonnets for dolls won't work. This law covers ALL products made for the use of children from 0 to 12 or perceived by the general public as for the use of those children, and that definitely includes toys as well as clothes, books, utensils, wall art, rugs, furniture- shoes, hats, blankets.

JunkMale said...

I'd like you to know that in spite of Headmistress' extensive coverage on this matter, your post is the one that finally prompted me to e-mail all 3 of my Congressional representatives.

Melissa said...

I've been following this legislation for a few months now and had already emailed my representatives, but I found on another blog that apparently they are scrambling to "fix" the wording on this because they don't want to hurt the small business or home crafter. Also, this other person says that she learned that cotton is exempt from the law. There is also some language that anything already in inventory can be sold by you, but not resold by whoever buys it from you although that's not much help if you don't have a huge inventory built up or when you do run out.
Here is a link that shows their attempt to clarify what is already out there, but like I said, they are still trying to get better wording written into it before it goes into effect.

If you haven't already done so, please, please contact your representatives and tell them this law CANNOT go into effect as it's written because there are so many people who will go out of business and all we, as parents, will have a choice of buying is the generic plastic toys that come from China. Let's do what we can to build up American workmanship, not tear it down.

Holly said...


I know...I know. It's horrible. I've been watching and involved for weeks now - have signed all the petitions and have e-mailed my congresspeople. I have been praying, too, and letting people know.

I am hopeful that some changes will be made. There are TONS of people complaining - even the American Library Association is in on it.

If you think hard enough about this, even schools would have to re-adjust, maybe close and throw out what they have. (Hey.....not a bad idea......)(Just teasing.) Nursery schools, preschools...everyone is deeply affected.

Keep spreading the word, keep doing what needs to be done...

Anonymous said...

This law is insane! It covers ALL children's products--soccer balls to library books to clothes to binkies. CALL your congresspeople everyone!

Mommy Cracked said...

It just blows my mind that they think this is the best solution. :( I've contacted my representatives.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Melissa, just so you know, it's (at this time) only unadulterated cotton that is exempt- no dyes or bleaches.

Leah said...

I totally agree and am glad for a little more info. You see, I just got a blog up with smocked dresses and a week later (if I'm not mistaken on the timimg) this law came out. I already have yards and yards of material and what am I to do with it and how am I supposed to retreive that expense? Maybe we ought to apply for bail-out!?

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