A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Handmade Toy Problem

Mark Caserta

This past week, my wife Samantha, her sister Tracy and I made our biannual trip to the Javits Center in Manhattan to attend the www.nyigf.com
New York International Gift Fair, a massive trade show where small and large retailers meet manufacturers and designers, learn about their latest product lines and, hopefully, place orders for goods.

We were at the show, of course, to look for goods for 3r Living, but also to re-establish our personal connection with our vendors in the New Year. The sluggish economy, as you might guess, was a major topic of discussion for everyone (it was a very bad show for most vendors) but the second most talked-about issue, believe it or not, was the CPSIA.

CPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, is a federal law that was passed in August of 2008. It was supposed to help protect consumers against the dangerous (and illegal) use of lead paint and other contaminents in toy manufacturing by requiring toy makers to extensively label and test their toys.

This is a good law, overall, for parents and children, and it was long overdue. Unfortunately, the law has a very serious unintended consequence (although perhaps it was intended by the lobbyists of large toy makers). The CPSIA is fairly easy to comply with for large, multinational toy manufacturers who have big budgets and manufacturer and test toys in large quantities. For small toy makers and manufacturers of children's products, the story is very different. The cost of testing their goods, ranging from $300-$4,000 per item, will likely drive them right out of business. That's right, the same law intended to protect our children from poisonous toys from China may just destroy the homemade/handmade/organic toy makers that we would prefer to support in the middle of an economic recession!

If you find this disturbing, you can help make reasonable changes to the CPSIA that will protect our children and America's artisan toy makers. Go to handmadetoyalliance.org to learn more about the CPSIA. Click here to sign an online petion!

Mark Caserta has over 10 years of experience in environmental policy and politics. In 2004, he opened an eco-friendly home and lifestyle store in Park Slope, Brooklyn known as 3r Living, with his wife Samantha.

Their products are carefully selected with the principles of reducing waste, reusing unwanted or discarded materials, and recycling in mind. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 3r. Mark is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.