President of Craftsbury Kids, Cecilia Leibovitz, a.k.a. paperdreams, reached out to the Etsy Blog on behalf of the Handmade Toy Alliance, to continue awareness and activism regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, legislation that could forever endanger independent handcrafters of children’s products in the United States. Many Etsy sellers are involved in the Handmade Toy Alliance, and a few of them share their stories and reasons for picking up this important cause below. For more information on this issue, check out past articles about CPSIA on the Etsy Blog, and join the discussion in the CPSIA section of the Etsy Forums.
In early May 2010, hundreds of handcrafters and concerned citizens voiced their support of a proposed CPSIA amendment that was not perfect, but at least addressed some of our needs. At this point the amendment has not been passed and the end of the February 2011 “stay of enforcement” issued by the CPSC looms closer.
Whether you are an Etsy shop owner or concerned citizen who does not want to see handcrafted toys and other children’s products disappear forever, your voice is needed. You can help by continuing to call your state representatives, especially those who are on the Committee of Energy and Commerce, and let them know what will happen to your business (or businesses that you frequent) when the stay ends in February. In our current economic crisis, it is more important than ever that small businesses be allowed to remain in operation!
Please consider joining the Handmade Toy Alliance as well. More information can be found at http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org. The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) has made great strides in protecting small batch crafters and designers of children’s products from becoming extinct in the face of CPSIA.
Connie, a.k.a. MiniMonster: “‘Beware of doll makers, seamstresses, woodworkers, and knitters — they are a tough lot!’ This should be embroidered on pillows and given to all congressmen and heads of federal regulatory agencies. I was so impressed by the latent skills possessed by the crafters gathered together by the Handmade Toy Alliance to protest the unintelligible CPSIA, a law passed presumably to protect children. Crafters protested in all of the time-honored ways, signing petitions and calling their congressmen. But the marching orders from the HTA seemed to emphasize, ‘Just do something!’, a great challenge for creative people. For my part, I made a couple of appearances on local news broadcasts explaining the unintended consequences of the CPSIA. Also I made a doll to protest and drew an editorial cartoon which I offered to bloggers to illustrate their commentaries, and to others as a transfer to ‘wear’ their concerns. The protest shone a spotlight on the faults of the CPSIA and opened up negotiations on modifying the law to make it somewhat workable, negotiations that continue today. It was democracy in action: ordinary people taking extraordinary action! A civic lesson straight from reality.”
Nan, a.k.a. ThePortobelloRd: “I find the proposed laws stifling on my creativity. I have loads of ideas that I would love to create, but due to pending laws that include expensive testing, I don’t even want to attempt anything kid-related. My primary job that pays my bills is in procurement, which includes sustainable procurement. We make our manufacturers be on point for ensuring things are safe — why can we not have that apply to the fabric world (and other suppliers) as well? Make the manufacturers who are large enough to handle the testing requirements comply with the regulations, rather than punish the independent users of the product.”
Kari, a.k.a. MamaKs: “Over and over in modern-day America we see large scale industry tie the hands of the small business owner, be it via the big box store or overarching federal regulations on toys. While I understand the need to ensure the products we give to our children are safe, asking someone who makes 300 dolls a year or 1000 lbs. of play clay, to subject themselves to the same testing as Mattel is just silly. The Handmade Toy Alliance is an invaluable tool for the artisan toy maker. The help decoding the CPSIA regulations alone makes this an incredible resource.”
Lisa, a.k.a. oopsthatsart: “Our now 20-year-old daughter, Kristen, bought a wooden army tank and a small wheeled wooden toy at a craft fair about 10 years ago. She was impressed with the ‘old fashioned’ toy, and our dog chewed up the wheely toy the next day! We were very happy that it was only wood and did not require a vet visit. Kris asked her dad to make another safe toy in case Moochie felt hungry again. We told this story to some friends with small kids who were looking for safe alternatives to plastics and Bob started making toys for their kids. We quickly found out about how the CPSIA’s new rules would hurt crafters already making safe toys, and we joined HTA and had all our friends sign petitions and write letters. Always remember, nothing is safe in the hands of an unsupervised young person, YouTube is confirmation of that!”
Sara, a.k.a. woolies: “I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance to align myself with a group who cares about the small business owner — the handcrafter, the people who make unique, special, nurturing toys for kids. I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance because I care — a lot — about children having natural toys to play with. I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance because it was a way to understand the CPSIA, to stay involved and educated in the new laws. I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance in an effort to overtake the world with hand-crafted toys!”