Wednesday, January 07, 2009

CPSIA: Write your Senators and Reps!

I don't know if anyone who reads this has heard of this Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which is supposed to take effect next month. Basically, it says that you can't sell items intended for children under 12 years of age without proof that you had it tested for lead and pthalates. Makes sense, right?

Well, until you start to think about all the people who can't afford to buy new items for their kids and rely on thrift shops to outfit them. That's right, thrift shops won't be able to sell kid's stuff (clothes, toys, furniture, etc) without having them tested. Since most are run for charity, and the testing is expensive, the easiest option is to just THROW IT ALL AWAY!!!

So, I guess you have to start thinking about where all those things will end up - a landfill. Isn't that why we give stuff to Goodwill, to help recycle it so it won't end up in a landfill? Think about how many thrift shops are in your area. Think about how much kid's stuff they all have. While you're at it, think about the consignment shops too, because they're all probably going to end up going out of business. Now add in all the kid's stuff on Ebay... can you see where I'm going with this? Can you see how scary it has the potential to be?

Just for shits and giggles, let's remind everyone that this not only affects bigger businesses. What about all those people who sell really cute kid's stuff on Etsy and Ebay? I'm pretty sure play food made from wool felt made by a stay at home mom in Iowa isn't going to have lead or phtalates, but according to this new law, it won't matter. If she can't afford to shell out the big bucks to have them tested so she can provide proof that they're safe, she can't sell them. End of story.

So, in this economy when so many are already struggling to make ends meet, especially those families with children, the government is kinda saying F.U, hahahaha! You can voice your concerns about this good idea gone awry (in my opinion, anyway) by writing to your state senators. Don't know how? It's easy - just click here. It can't hurt! Here is the letter I sent to both of mine:

Dear Senator,

I am writing to you today in regards to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which is supposed to take effect next month. I understand that it is meant to protect kids from being exposed to lead and other harmful chemicals, and having a newborn son, I can appreciate the idea behind this legistlation. The toy recalls last year were a serious wake up call to everyone about the dangers to kids that are exposed to lead and other chemicals and how they can suffer long-term health effects. There is no doubt in anyone's mind about the need to protect our children.

On the other hand though, the economic effect this act will have on families who depend on thrift and consignment stores to clothe their children is unmeasurable. I'm sure by now you've heard the concern that this law may drive thrift stores, consignment stores, and people who craft handmade items out of their homes to help make ends meet out of business.

As a person who is trying to lessen the impact my family has on the environment, I prefer to buy handmade items from small businesses instead of plastic, mass produced ones from big box stores. I try to find ways to use recycled items, such as clothing and household items from consignment and thrift shops to avoid the need to create new ones and to prevent a perfectly usable item from ending up in a landfill. It bothers me that I won't be able to donate my used kids' clothing and toys to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or any place that would resell to help charity, the way I do with other still usable but unneeded items in my household without proof that I had it tested for lead and pthalates. It concerns me that, as a stay at home mom trying to stretch our family's budget, I will no longer have the option of consigning my child's outgrown clothing so that I may use that money to buy him clothing in a bigger size.

I shudder to think about what this means for families whose only option for purchasing clothing is a thrift store, because that's all that they can afford. I worry about what that means for charities like Project Linus, which gives blankets to hospitalized newborns, or to all the charities that distribute clothing and toys without selling them, especially around the holidays. I'm saddened that the beautiful and classic art and craft of quality handmade toys might be lost forever because these small business people cannot afford the testing. I'm sickend to think about the impact this will have on our already full landfills when every thrift store, consignment store, and other places that sell items for children have to toss out their current stock.

And yet smoking cigarettes around kids is perfectly legal as are so many other activities and products that we identified as health hazards years ago. That's so crazy to me! How about we make it so that I can buy my son great toys on sites like, I can support small businesses, I can do my part to protect the environment, and I can walk in and out of businesses without having to expose him to a cloud of cigarette smoke?

In this economy, when so many are already struggling to make ends meet,(especially those families with children) this law will only do more harm than good. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Sara Madrigal Fehling

If you like, you can even cut and paste mine, I don't mind at all. Both of my senators have web forms and I'm guessing that the ones from other states do too, so it won't even cost you a stamp - just a few minutes of your time.


Blogger Miss Anne said...

way to do YOUR part!

great points mama!

12:00 PM  

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