Handmade toys may soon be illegal in the United States. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they would already be illegal, if toymakers and others hadn’t gotten together and fought back. Now they need our help.
Illegal handmade toys?
Illegal handmade toys may sound like an embarrassing attempt at satire. Or the more embarrassing ravings of an unembarrassed conspiracy theorist. But it’s the sober fact. As the toymakers explain:
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public’s trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.
The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA 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.
All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.
For small toymakers and manufacturers of children’s products, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.
A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $300 – $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
Precisely because the toys are handmade, the new law requires that they be tested individually. At $300 to $4,000 per toy.
This is beyond Kafkaesque. Because factories in China were churning out poisoned toys by the thousands, you can’t make and sell a wooden car in your garage.
Get more details here: http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org
Yes, we need to make sure more kids don’t get poisoned by their toys. But let’s focus on the source of the problem—toxic mass-produced junk from Chinese factories.
If we had any real national conscience about conditions for workers besides ourselves, we wouldn’t be buying from most of these sweatshops anyway. Maybe all this can be a catalyst towards change on that front too.
Independent toymakers aren’t the only ones who’ve resisted this new law. Garment makers and even the publishing industry are also threatened by the insanely expensive requirements.
Together, these people have gotten a stay of execution for one year. That’s right—the original deadline for mandatory testing got pushed back a year. Because people resisted.
So let’s help keep pushing till we topple the guillotine. Here’s how you can help:
This page includes a petition (watch your step after you sign it— the third-party petition site asks for a donation). Also includes a sample letter to your Congressfolk, and a link to contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about CPSIA.