The CPSIA: Protecting Kids or Bankrupting Parents?

I am a mother.

Nothing matters to me more than the safety of my children and other children.

But I can also recognize when a flawed, reactionary law puts countless responsible, business owners at risk of unfairly losing their businesses.

Save Handmade Toys The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) may have been drafted with good intentions, but along the road it became a law that is impossible to fairly implement.

If it is put into action on February 10, 2009 as it currently is planned, it will have devastating repercussions to both large and small businesses and basically end the handmade goods industry.

The CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys (obviously a good thing) but it mandates enormously expensive third-party testing and certification for all products intended for children under the age of 12. It’s the ridiculous expense of the third-party testing and certification that will close businesses and make it illegal for work-at-home moms and dads to sell their handmade goods.

We will all be affected if this law is not changed.
As parents, consumers, business owners and employees we will all suffer from the economic mess that this law will trigger. Not to mention we won’t even be able to buy handmade baby blankets!

February 10, 2009 is already being dubbed National Bankruptcy Day. We must all take action now to stop this law from destroying responsible businesses.

How to Help:

  1. If you are an American, write to your United States Congress Person and Senator and the CPSC to request changes in the CPSIA. You can find your Congress Person here and Senator here. Write to the CPSC here.

    Find a sample letter at The Handmade Toy Alliance.

  2. Sign the iPetition for the CPSIA Impacts on Children’s Apparel Industry
  3. Post your concerns on your blog, facebook or myspace page.
  4. Send an email directly to the CPSC or contact chairperson Nancy Nord at 301-504-7923
  5. Twitter: Search using the #CPSIA hashtag
  6. Join the CPSIA Facebook Group
  7. Join these Etsy folks and send a handmade toy to Congressman Rush.
  8. Learn more about the law and how you can help change it. Here are a few of the many blogs that have helpful resources: National Bankruptcy Day, The Smart Mama, Cool Mom Picks, Z Recommends


  1. says

    What a shame. This is the very same issue with organic farming. Small farmers who DO use organic growing practices can’t afford official certification (or don’t want to deal with the red tape involved), so they miss out on the sales trend for organic products – or potential customers mistrust the small farmer at the farmers market who states they grow organic products.

    I’m with you – this is a bad idea. It will negatively affect parents’ budgets and choices, it will affect small businesses worldwide. My personal primary concern would be USA businesses, but small US companies who carry handmade items made overseas will presumably be affected as well, despite their attempts to offer products that are safe and help out individuals trying to build better lives for themselves and THEIR families.

    There comes a certain point where OVER-legislation creates just as much of a negative impact as lack of legislation. Hopefully our politicians will recognize that we are at that point with this law and on quite a few other issues as well.

  2. says

    Thank you so very much for posting Susan.

    I might suggest however that people skip the petition and instead take that time to contact their congression rep, particularly if he or she is on one of the involved subcommittees. Petitions are sort of meh in terms of effectiveness, especially when you can sign anonymously.

    But then, every little bit helps.

  3. Maggie M says

    Just wanted to let you know that as soon as I read your email this morning, I wrote to CPSIA, signed the Petition, donated, wrote to Diane Feinstein, Senator and Devin Nunes, Congressman for california. I strongly oppose the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act as it is currently written. The third party inspection & certification requirement will increase the consumer’s cost of handmade goods in the large stores and virtually end the Etsy shop businesses and/or increase our costs substantially, making it impossible for us, the consumers, to purchase handmade goods. I urge everyone to sign the Petition and start writing letters NOW. Thank you Susan!

  4. says

    Thanks for posting this. I’m one of the many Etsy sellers who will be shut down by this. I’ve been spreading the word around the blogosphere ever since I found out, but thank you for using your much bigger platform.

  5. says

    What a crazy piece of legislation! Do you suppose some of the big toy makers had some lobbyists working overtime on this?! Maybe to make up for all their lead-paint and other recalls that gave them a black-eye and sent parents scurrying to find other sources of entertainment and education for their kids?! I’ll have to look over your list and take action in some of those ways. Thanks for bringing it up.

    (You should definitely link to this in the headline box at the top of the blog!)

  6. says

    I’m the owner of a WAHM business. The children’s product that I make the most of is cloth diapers. Right now, there is confusion as to what rules exactly cloth diapers will fall under, making it very difficult for those making cloth diapers to even figure out what kind of testing we need to have done in order to comply.

    But despite the threat of paying $300 per diaper I sell for testing certificates–because each diaper I make is unique, I don’t have bolt of fabric and make dozens of the same diaper–I’m not panicking, and I’m not signing internet petitions, and I’m certainly not calling on Barack Obama to lean on the CPSC for us.

    Why, you may ask? Because there are trade associations and corporations from big to small working with the CPSC *right now* to work out the details on how this Act will be applied and enforced. It isn’t in the CPSC’s best interest to drive small business out, and this law wasn’t their–or any “big evil toymaking conglomerates”–idea at all. It was started by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, and passed in both the House and Senate with great support by the Democrats. The CPSC was given the unfortunate job of making this law work, and they are *asking* for our help on that…why are we fighting them when they are *asking* for our comments, opinions, and ideas?!?

    I don’t think this law is a bad thing, and I don’t think that small businesses who make children’s products should be fighting to have it overturned. We need to *work with* the CPSC. And the idea that presenting this complaint to Obama is going to do any good is ridiculous…the bill was sponsored by a Rep. from his own state, approved by his own party, and the goal is to protect children…even if the President were *able* to overturn an enacted law, why would he *want* to? Especially when the CPSC is already working with us on it.

    The fact that so many people are blindly complaining about how proving provable safety for children is going to *cost them money* makes small businesses and natural products producers look like whiny, contrary people with something to hide. Let’s *prove* to the CPSC *why* our products are safe, instead of just shouting for exclusions based on our *saying* they’re safe.

  7. Melanie says

    the intent of this law was good…to make safer children’s products. However, the details are going to do far more harm than good, since they wrote this law to include EVERY item made for children under 12. This means clothes, shoes, books, toys, videos, diaper bags…everything. It will drive most small and medium sized busineses under…but even the big box retailers will feel it too, as they must comply since they would be the first ones to be inspected for compliance. There is provision in the law for the US govt to hire full time inspectors to enforce this thing! I’ve read elsewhere, that many retailers, such as Wal-mart and others, have already informed their vendors, if they don’t have the required certificates on hand by 2/10, they will pull all of their items. Remember, big retailers are also big employers…if you take away a portion of their sales, a portion of their employees will go too. This MUST be amended, to exclude the obvious things that are not contaminated with lead…like natural fibers, and unfinished wood. Please research this on the web, and contact your congressmen about this issue, and urge them to reform this law before it takes effect. Otherwise, February 10th really will be National Bankruptcy Day…and by then, it will be too late for many businesses.

  8. mom says

    I have my own buisness too, but the safety of my child or any ones elses child is more important than my buisness or any other buisness!!This world is sick!

  9. old mom says

    My children are grown, no grandchildren yet. I am not involved in manufacturing or anything like that. I agree that the lead and phthalates issue is important. I believe the way they are going about this is citizen abuse. Their actions are morally wrong because the good will suffer as well as the bad. There are alternatives if Congress and maybe Americans would put on their thinking caps and devote more effort and time to this problem.

  10. says

    We own a baby boutique in Portland, Oregon (Milagros). We had a meeting this morning with a number of businesses that will be affected by the law.

    In fact we have pulled together a business alliance just to address this issue because there are so many businesses – almost ALL owned by women – that will be impacted by this law.

    None of the businesses in our area want to weaken the safety standards in the CPSIA. All of us, are committed to designing, creating and selling safe products.

    But the fast timing of the CPSIA implementation has made the creation of rules and drafting of clarifications that better suits the full spectrum of businesses a challenge for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    If the CPSIA is not changed, it will push many small, local businesses out of the marketplace by creating an additional – and unnecessary- economic burden during these challenging times.

    Please contact your legislators about this issue today, there is truly no time to waste. A form letter as well as contact information may be found here:


    The Fuentes Family
    Milagros Boutique
    Portland, Oregon

  11. says

    Imagine that you had to submit to periodic intrusive searches of your home by the police, without a warrant or probable cause, in order to prove that you are not a burglar.

    You would be outraged, and so would all people who value American principles.

    But government economic regulation is based upon the same premise…the presumption of guilt. Rather than the government having the burden of proving wrong-doing or a law violation based upon actual evidence in a court of law, business men and women must prove their innocence at great cost to themselves of time and money. This is the premise of dictatorship, not a free country based upon the rule of objective law.

    Multiply CPSIA a thousand-fold or more, and you realize the enormity of the burden American business must face. Sarbanes-Oxley is a classic example. It was passed in 2001, and imposed vast new regulatory burdens on all publicly traded companies in response to the Enron-Worldcom scandals. Thus, the thousands of innocent companies who didn’t cook the books were punished for the wrong-doing of the few.

    Objective, clearly defined laws such as banning lead in toys are all that are needed. Just as a person can only be prosecuted for a burglary after having committed the crime and been proven guilty in a court of law based upon actual evidence of wrong-doing, so should the same principles apply to makers of toys. If lead is found in a product, deal with the producer and leave others alone.

    CPSIA and all similar regulatory schemes are nothing more than the Doctrine of Original Sin applied to businessmen and are immoral, un-American, and unjust.


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