Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Speak Out Against CPSIA

As of yesterday, millions of perfectly safe toys, books, and articles of clothing were removed from store shelves and sent to the landfill. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is a piece of landmark legislation that was crafted after last year's influx of tainted toys from China.

So, whose interests does this law REALLY protect? I would expect to see that consumer advocate groups were on the forefront of lobbying for this bill. Well, they are not. It turns out that this bill was written in part by big toymakers. Mattel, whose tainted toys kicked off this issue, helped to write this bill and increased their lobbying budget by 442% in order to push this bill through. Hasbro, who had never even hired a lobbyist before, spent over $500,000 lobbying on behalf of this bill.

So why would these big toymakers take an interest in requiring costly testing of their own products? Simply, because they can afford to test their products while smaller companies and artisan toymakers cannot.

So, who is this law hurting? Your kids. My kids. Libraries. The environment. And the list goes on.

In spite of the fact that no child has ever been injured by licking the pages of a book, this law is declaring that all books printed before 1985 are considered unsafe. If you cannot afford to put vintage books through testing, it is legally safer to throw them away then test them. Even libraries are not exempt. Libraries could be forced to destroy a huge part of their collections as of February 10, 2009. Yes, as of yesterday.

Thrift and consignment shops have also been put in a compromising position. Initially, they were believed to be exempt, but this law is so broad, that they have now been swept into the fray. Any articles of clothing that have zippers, snaps, or plastic buttons are suspect. Also suspect are board games that contain ANY metal or plastic components. Add jigsaw puzzles printed before 1985 to the list. Of course, this law prohibits the reselling of bikes, trikes, backpacks, strollers, car seats, and anything else containing any metal or plastic that have not been individually tested.

The penalties for selling untested items are as high as $100,000 fine and jail time even if an item has not been deemed unsafe! The same toys that were perfectly safe and legal last week and now contraband.

While the CPSA has declared it will not require testing for one year, other government agencies could step in and enforce this law. Please, call your representatives and let them know that this law hurts children more than it protects them. Soon we will have no choice in who to buy our children's clothing and toys from. The only ones who will be able to stay in business will be the biggest corporations. No wonder they lobbying so hard for this law. They were only interested in protecting themselves.

No comments: