I’m so angry I don’t even know where to begin. These are my least favorite types of posts to write because I feel so wrapped up in the frustrations of what is and is not considered to be safe in this country. I love my country. I hate to knock it. But no person or country is ever perfect, and fortunately here in the U.S. you’re allowed to say so, to do something about it. So this weekend when I read a post on another mommy blog, I knew I had to do something.
Saturday afternoon I received an email from Cheri at For Your Bug-a-Boo wondering if I’d seen Kathleen’s latest post on Katydid and Kid. I had. I was still pretty ticked off. Kathleen let her readers know there’s a new law on the horizon, one that will affect small toy makers across this country as well as toy makers who import to the U.S. I’m not talking about big toy companies who get their toys from China either. I’m talking about your grandma who crochets dolls and sells them at her local craft shows for a little extra cash having to stop because it’s suddenly illegal unless she pays a $4,000 testing fee per toy to make sure she’s not slipping lead into the mix. I’m talking about all these great online toystores we’ve all been visiting in preparation for Christmas not being able to sell us the cute little German wooden toy because that small store can’t afford to have every single type of toy tested before they sell it. $4,000 a pop.
According to The Handmade Toy Alliance, these laws will be enforced in 56 days. That means next year at this time, there will be much, much fewer online toystores out there that we’ve learned to trust after last year’s huge toy recall mess. Here’s who else The Handmade Toy Alliance says will be affected:
A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.
Can you just choke on the irony here? We, the United States, who allow small amounts of lead in our children’s candy, who for the most part find nothing wrong with pthalates being present in teething rings or strange and unnecessary chemicals being added to our baby formulas, have suddenly decided that we are better at detecting harmful toys than the European Union, who has sadly been outdoing us in these areas for years already. The U.S. has decided that the Made in China plastic stuff is somehow safer than all those toys my grandfather lovingly made for his grandchildren in his garage using hardwoods and untainted paint.
No small toy store wants unsafe toys on their shelves. Several have already voiced their desire to comply to the growing safety standards – but at the cost of testing per toy, small companies simply will not be able to compete with the big toy manufacturers. Hence, they may very well go out of business leaving us as parents with fewer choices for truly unique and trusted toys. The Handmade Toy Alliance has a list of ideas they’d like to see implemented to ensure safe toys without the exorbitant testing costs. You can read about them here.
This leaves me to wonder where the big toy companies are in all of this. After last year’s toy scare right before Christmas and all the millions they no doubt lost to recalls and to these same small toy manufacturers we’re speaking of snuffing out, one can only wonder what part could have been played by big manufacturers with a lot more money in their back pocket.
Please excuse my harshness – I know I don’t normally write long scathing posts where I rake anyone over the coals. I believe in playing fair, and in this case what we’re playing is hardball. I know my readership is loaded with other mommy bloggers who believe like I do. It’s why we all get along and why we visit each other’s blogs regularly. It’s why we have community. I’m asking you to please pass this information on to your readership as well. You can quote me, I’m sure Kathleen at Katydid and Kid would be happy to let you quote her, or you can write your own post and use the links I’ve left here.
I spent some time this morning writing to my congressman and both my senators. I emailed the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) and I signed the petition. Now I’m passing the information on to you. Please do the same. I don’t want to have to make my own toys (illegally) next Christmas. I don’t want to see all my favorite online toy stores shut down because there’s nothing legal to sell.
Below are several links for you to use. Feel free to pass them on, email them to your friends and family, and to use them to contact your own congressmen and senators. And thank you for letting me share with you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, us mommy bloggers seem to stick together.
Online Petition (After signing the petition, they request a donation. Whether or not you donate is totally up to you. You’re still on the petition either way.)
Online Toy Stores dkMommy loves who may very well be affected by the passing of this law:
If you are an online toy store who will be affected by this law passing, please email me at themommyspot at gmail dot com or leave a comment here to tell me who you are. I’ll gladly add you to this list. I think it’s very important we support you all.