Sunday, January 04, 2009

Crazy Law!

Just got this alert from one of my homeschool groups::

"For those of you who haven’t heard the news yet, on February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act comes into effect. One of the major changes that this program will bring into play is a mandate that everything sold for children 12 and younger will have to be tested for lead and phthalates, and anything that isn’t tested (or that fails) will be considered hazardous and cannot be sold. Read more about the CPSIA at the L.A. Times and some interesting blog commentary from the fashion industry.

For new products, this isn’t an issue at all and is in fact a good thing. Many products are already being screened with such tests, and those that are not will be required to begin such testing shortly or will be pulled from the market. In terms of safety for my children, I’m quite happy with the effects of this law on new products.

Where things get interesting is with used products. Consider your local resale and thrift shop. Currently, all of their secondhand children’s clothes will have to be tested for lead and phthalates. Given that many such stores aren’t high-income operations - many are nonprofits - these shops simply cannot afford to do the testing on the children’s clothes on their shelves.

So what happens? Most thrift shops are currently not accepting any children’s clothing at all. Sometime in the next month or so, all thrift shops will have to clear all of their children’s clothing from the shelves … and send them to the landfill.

from Bookroom blog on the same issue

"If changes are not made to CPSIA immediately, then we will see millions of items of children’s clothing, toys, and books destroyed because they can no longer be sold in the United States. Our already burdened budgets will be pushed to the extreme as soon as we are faced with a steep rise in the cost of children’s products, due both to the extreme costs of testing and the disappearance of thousands of products from the market. CPSIA doesn’t affect only toys. It also includes clothing and shoes, the very necessities of life.

Retailers will not be able to do their own testing. We are not permitted to buy equipment or test kits to evaluate our own products. Instead, we at Jacobsen Books would need to purchase testing for every copy of every children’s book in our inventory. Since lead testing costs $100-$400 per product, it’s obvious that we’ll no longer be able to carry $2 to $5 children’s books. Unless action is taken soon, our favorite corner in our little store will no longer invite children to come, look, read, and enjoy.

Back in 2007, we all read with horror about the lead contamination of products purchased from China by the biggest toy retailers in the country. Normally, we like to see the punishment fit the crime, but in this case it looks like the biggest offenders will be rewarded by the progressive elimination of their smaller competitors."

Looks like it would effectively criminalize any seamstress making clothing or accessories for any compensation whatever - without paying outrageous fees per item - blocking yet another small business route for many.

I agree with Bookblog, this makes everyday people suffer for what big businesses have done, and makes even more people dependent on mass merchandisers as both small-time providers and everyday families would be greatly- negatively- impacted!

There are already too many laws that put small business opportunities out of reach - outrageous 'licensing' fees for start-up cart vendors, zoning policies that eliminate small cottage industries etc... Its long been said by the conspiracy-minded folks of our acquaintance that the government has been in bed with big businesses, working on ever more ways to make us all economic 'serfs' of the big biz interests. Used to think that was ridiculous, but decisions like this policy make that view ever more plausible. Have you heard about the efforts to criminalize herbs & home births & other traditional rights of the people to do and make for themselves? Weren't sure if those calls to save our freedom to do for ourselves were real? Well they are, sad to say. Amazing how little notice many major news services ever take note of such maneuvers...unless its as part of a PR campaign outlining the minor safety issues that were used as an excuse take major rights away. Tends to be up to area papers & local news companies to warn the public. I can only hope enough people will hear to make a difference before the damage is done.

The irony is that clothes made by small vendors are usually made from natural fibers from natural resources they have on hand (ie their own sheep) or from stock bolts & other parts (buttons, zippers) sold by large manufacturers that supposedly already passed by government safety checks. If these items already passed the test once, why is this an issue ? If they aren't passing the new standards, why not put the burden of testing on the large-scale manufacturers who failed testing before? Why attack used clothing and shoes stores for children? Other kids have already survived using these, you know?

Yes, there's some risk in using an older object that may have slipped past our government's watchdogs, but outlawing poverty coping mechanisms won't make the world safe. It just makes poor people even poorer! Why should the general public, thrift stores, and small seamstresses suffer to correct safeguard oversights? Why should the public be limited to buying their clothing from businesses big enough to buy these testing kits? Why not limit this to substances at least that might reasonably be a hazard... like lead-looking buttons, instead of including handmade wood buttons & cotton shirts? Why can't we just make 'good faith' declarations that we won't sell stuff we think is dangerous - and leave liability as an issue to those who do?

Why are we, the public, losing the right to sell our own used property? Its kids stuff today. What will it be tomorrow?

Oh, right, because the companies have answers for all our gov't checkpoints & tests. Besides, its easier to pick on poor people. I knew that. :P

This doesn't affect us immediately, and we can sew here anyway, but it is still extremely upsetting, as it has the capacity to do so much harm to so many good people.

This could really hurt a lot of families with little kids. So many families DEPEND on 2nd-hand clothing stores for everything. The give-away charities may or may not be immediately affected, but its unlikely they can take in all the over-flow, and that means that can be little done toward stocking for future crises - like the truckloads of stuff that have been sent in to help in every natural disaster. You could see kids seriously doing without basics in the fairly near future, wearing t-shirts in winter & shoes that don't fit, if this misguided policy is put into effect.

If you are one of those families, see what you can get your hands on NOW and squirrel away those larger sizes & cute pre-schooler ABC books. God have mercy on us all.

What a way to start the New Year...

What a way to start Obama's presidency. I doubt he is in any way responsible for it, but if he can't get this amended to more human terms A.S.A.P, it will be associated with him and negatively impact his public support in many households, especially those who made clothes for their neighbors as home business & all the working class families who can't dress baby nicely at Goodwill anymore.

This is bad.

This is really bad.


Rebehm said...

One part of this that bothers me, Mom, is that at this time none of the major retailers consistently offer the more traditional clothing that many folks prefer for their children.

Shushan said...

Yes, I didn't even get into how this might affect communities with special dress codes due to beliefs or re-enactment activities

Those who make their own clothes would still be all right, but many bought clothes from members of their group /faith who made things as they like them.

I don't see these guys being able to legally operate if this comes to pass - so yes, this could be a problem.

Might even be applied to stage costumes. Local productions that need fancy costumes are usually made by area seamstresses and volunteers.

Could be a lot of disappointed little princesses in the future :(

Anonymous said...

This is a terribly written law and Feb. 10, 2009 is already being called National Bankruptcy Day.
Please contact your Congressman.

The thrift stores have all been notified to get rid of their children's merchandise OR test it.

(they'll send it to land fills). has already sent out notices to all their book companies notifying them to send proof of testing or else don't bother selling books with them. Someone did not think at all when writing this bill!

Anonymous said...

This link is for a petition to the CPSA (Consumer Products Safety
There is room to include comments as well.

While this particular petition only takes into account children's textiles, remember the act states ALL children's items ages 12 and under...

Anonymous said...
This site has set up a survey for those small businesses involved with
children's articles. If you sell children's items, you may be interested in
taking this.Luanne

Anonymous said...

There should be some sort of form buyers could sign. A waiver of some sort, particularly in used book stores and from used book/clothing/toy/etc. sellers seems to be in order. What do you think?

I assume this would apply to our Homeschool Used Curriculum sale, as well (we sell toys and games to each other, along with books and curriculum).
This is incredibly short-sighted, in my opinion!