As a mom and an environmentalist, I am always ranting and raving about the need for tougher standards on the toys sold to children. It breaks my heart to research and write about the dangerous levels of lead still found in toys and the drastic measures that must be taken to ensure that kids' toys are safe. I would love to be able to trust that the toys I see on store shelves are free of lead, phthalates, and other nasty toxins. But not at the expense of the little guy. And it is the little guy who is about to be regulated right out of the market.
In 2007, there were so many toys recalled due to dangerous levels of toxins that Congress was spurred in to action. Their solution, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.
Sounds good right? In theory, these new regulations are meant to protect our kids from unsafe toys and make toy manufacturers accountable for the toys they make. The problem is that certification costs money...money that most small toy manufacturers simply cannot afford. Many small toy manufacturers in the U.S. are already making toys that are safe and non-toxic, but they won't be able to afford the 3rd party verification and labeling. So starting in February, when the new act goes in to effect, these small toy manufactuers will be out of business. Unless the law is modified, handmade children's products will no longer be legal in the US.
According to the Handmade Toy Alliance:
- 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 cloth diapers to sell online 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.
So what's the solution? The Handmade Toy Alliance has suggested a number of possible solutions to CPSIA that would help achieve the goal of safer toys while helping small toy manufactuers stay in business. Check out their website for the latest CPSIA info and to find out how you can help save handmade toys.