Please help to save the handmade industry (CPSIA HR4040)

I never had a slice of bread,
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side.
(anonymous verse,circa 1841)

There's alot of concern in the children's handmade toy and clothing industry at the moment. There's a lot of confusion, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of worry. Why? Well, if you haven't already heard - the US Congress is on the verge of passing a bill called HR4040 (the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).

We're sure you heard the stories recently associated with the public scare associated with imported toys from certain Chinese manufacturers - and for good reason. These cheaply made items were tainted with high levels of lead and phthalates (a substance used to make plastics more flexible). Cheap and Badly made products were coming back to haunt us. Bad on them for these factories for producing such things. Bad on us if we bought this cheap throwaway crap for the sake of saving a few dollars! arghh! As a consequence, the US Congress has acted to clean up the mess.

The problem is that word has spread fast among small business associations that the bill mentioned above, as it is written now, is far from clear, way to broad in its demands, and unfair to small business. As some people have insinuated, we honestly don't think that this bill is a big-business-influenced stab at small business. We feel it's more of a matter of hastily arranged and over-reactive bureaucratic language - something that can be a common occurence when legislative bills are first drafted. All the more reason, at this stage to get involved and have your voice heard. We here at Nonchalant Mom think that the online industry with it's 'Etsy' and 'Dawanda's' supporting crafters of all sorts is such a benefit to our country and economy... we had always hoped that this was the direction that our country is turning. So, legislation such as this could severely quell this wonderful aspect of the online community and further crack the backbone of small businesses that have already withstood many a storm. We need to voice up and stand strong for these wonderful people making very special things for our kids and our homes.

To be as concise as possible, if it is possible to do so, we'd like to share with you what the bill basically proposes starting this February. To do this, we will borrow some words from our friends at SMALL MAGAZINE who have been very supportive in spreading the word to everyone concerned about how truly devastating this can be for everyone who produces, manufactures, designs, sells, or trades in children's toys or clothing items:

"...parts of this bill will directly effect all small handmade toy makers, designers and store owners in a way that will put many of them out of business. The CPSIA rules now requires all children's products, including natural handmade toys and clothing to be tested by a Third Party Lab, often at a cost of up to $4,000 per item. That could cost a small company more than $20,000 a season.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of children's goods that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys, clothes, and accessories made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade children's products will no longer be legal in the US.

If the bill is to be taken seriously at this point, then it will not only effect small businesses nation wide who deal with producing or selling toys and clothing, but it will effect you as a consumer as well since many, if not all, small businesses like ours will be deeply impacted - thus reducing your ability to find handmade items for your children. And, worse, there is talk that this bill will even affect such business' as second-hand stores, and at worst, even something as small as a garage sale - since any time an item is sold, or made even by your grandmother at her kitchen table, it will be subjected to the mandatory and potentially expensive third-party testing to insure that the items are not tainted. This is some sweeping legislation..... !!!

The irony in all of this is that there is no evidence showing that any tainted items were produced in the USA or Europe. This has largely been initiated because of the recent scare concerning items produced by some large factories in China. No, that isn't ironic - it's cynical. We are all going to be subjected to a punishment that many many many small business' in this country and Europe did nothing to prompt.

But, before we get going on this thing... let's keep in mind some good news. Congress probably means well by trying to protect the consumer. And, we believe the bill will be reviewed and will probably be rewritten. Congress has the best of intentions, even if its current draft is HARSH. This is our government, and we need to take action. And, believe us when we tell you that almost every small business we know is deeply concerned (as if we need more) and is acting to bring attention to the potential consequences.

So, if you would like to have some more information about this bill please go to the following website and download the current bill yourself at CPSIA. Or, go ahead and search the many blogs and chat pages that are discussing this potential bill. It's all very confusing and potentially very scary!

If you'd like to act to clean up the terms of this bill and bring attention to its potential harm for many small businesses, we suggest contacting your state representative's office (Congressperson or Senators) - it isn't that hard to send an email and ask them to clarify their position concerning this bill, as well as tell them your concern.

here are some things that you can do to help, they only take a minute and if all of us voice-up someone will hear the call:

1. sign the petition click here

2. vote to modify the CPSIA on change.org - this website is amazing! the top 10 ideas from change.org will be presented to President Obama on inauguration day. we are currently at number 1 in the economy section - so keep it up there and vote now!!

3. phone or email your representatives in the house & senate (it's easy just click and select your state).

4. write a letter to congress you can use this sample letter or write your own.

5. join the save handmade toys facebook group

6. join the CPSIA discussion group.

Wish us all luck - and this includes yourself as a discerning consumer! We are not given to hyperbole normally - but this is going to be a sad day for the small guys/gals if it continues as is! Thanks for listening!