This $10,000 crayon set is for sale on ETSY to make a point. Small artisan toymakers and those who support their work are worried about their ability to stay in business after Feb. 10, when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act takes effect. It requires that every toy intended for children under the age of 12 be tested for lead and phthalates.
For another absurd example and some good perspective on this issue, check out Dale Dougherty‘s recent column on The $4,000 Rattle. Dale is the publisher of Make and Craft magazines and is well aware of the problems this legislation will cause for many of the makers out there.
As written, CPSIA is going to have a chilling effect on the handmade toy industry. The motivation behind this law is clearly good: We all sat in horror as we learned about lead paint in toddler’s toys, and other toxins finding their way into many items we bought for our children.
But surely common sense can prevail. CPSIA is heavyhanded. Lawmakers should be able to figure out some modifications or exemptions from the costly testing regulations that won’t put domestic handmade toymakers out of business. It seems clear that where the regulations might make sense for a multi-national conglomerate, they just aren’t going to work for the small, do-it-yourself cottage industries. Surely we don’t want to punish the little guy making homemade wood toys in his garage because Chinese factories are using unsafe materials in mass production.
Without modifications, CPSIA will stifle a segment of society I really believe we should be encouraging — those who are out there making things.
Update: While I focused on toymakers in my post, several people have rightly pointed out in the comments that this law is much broader than that. CPSIA impacts any products made for children, including clothing, school supplies and many other non-toy items.