Friday, December 12, 2008

Designer Y Sounds off about the CPSIA (Editorial)

Designer Y is no stranger to fighting against "city hall". I take pride in my past of being an activist of sorts. I have seen firsthand the power of the people at work. I KNOW when people believe in something and they come together they *can* make a difference. At this time, I am feeling extremely frustrated at the lack of response I've received from nearly 10 phone calls and emails to contacts at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I guess I shouldn't be "surprised" but I was hopeful that Patty Bittner, the small business ombudsman at the CPSC would reply to at least one of my inquiries, even if it was just to reply to my email to tell me they are working on addressing the concerns of so many who have contacted them, or that she wasn't the correct person to speak with and refer me to the individual that I would be able to interview for the Designing-Minds blog to help quell the fears, answer the questions and clear up any misinformation out there.
But instead...I received no reply, no email, no response.

The question on everyone's mind at this time is WHY? ...why would the CPSC want to legislate the "cottage industry" of designing moms and make us comply with impossible to conform to, impossible to afford testing and labeling requirements...and lump us together with large manufacturers who may actually be able to afford and comply with these industry rules?
Because one bad apple has spoiled the bunch... Somewhere back in the not so recent past
large/massive industry looking for cheap labor and lower overhead farmed out much of it's labor and manufacturing to companies in China (*not JUST China but the majority of offenders are Chinese based companies) with little or no regulation in the way of safety standards. Thus American toy makers and other children's product companies imported products laced with lead based paint and other harmful components such as
Phthalates. The very unfortunate truth is, many children were exposed and harmed, and many killed due to these harmful substances in the products.
While we all want what is best for kids, and Designer Y admires the CPSC's intention of wanting to protect children and make sure the products are safe in which they come into contact with
...this legislation is not the answer.

After reading and re-reading the legislation, Designer Y finds it is not all bad, but it does not exclude the cottage industry that produces handmade children's products such as toys or jewelry. In my opinion, this responsibility should be up to the manufacturers or importers (in most part) to make components which are safe for market, and used in creating our designs and then sold by cottage industry people like you and I.

It should NOT be up to a small jewelry designer to be sure her bracelet findings and metal parts are lead free any more than it should be up to a car dealer to be sure each car driven off his or her car lot after being sold is within industry standards on every single part put into the car down to the plastic on the cup holders. The car dealer is not required to drive every car to a testing facility for plastic cup holders to make sure the holders meet every single guideline, and even if they were...
who would enforce this? The cup holder inspector brigade?

In Designer Y's opinion, things like this should NOT be getting into our country in the first place, the importers dealing with countries with questionable standards should be held to acceptable/safe standards, not those of us in the cottage industry who buy our supplies and then create something in small quantity and then resell the completed product.

What to do now...

I'm still trying to get to the bottom of whether or not this legislation affects clothing, fabric, bibs, room decor, textiles and the supplies used/or made in the handmade community. My eyes are crossing but I will bring our readers the info as it becomes more clear.
In the meantime, it's my personal opinion that everyone needs to get involved.
We need to:
  1. Stop the legislation where its at right now.
  2. We need to contact our elected officials as well as the CPSC and tell them we do NOT support the CPSIA of 2008 and urge them to support the handmade /cottage industry we are a part of.
  3. We need to sign the petition at ipetition that has been started
  4. We need to blog about this and educate as many people as possible about why this legislation, although it has good intentions it is not economically feasible, enforceable, nor is it fair to small businesses.
  5. Contact news media and alert them to the fact that this proposed legislation is causing a stir and is horrible for small businesses.
Here are some important links to get all of our readers into action:

Contact the CPSC
on their website via the
CPSC Contact Form

Sign the Petition at ipetition

Contact and Find out who your elected officials are

If you're feeling vocal, give the CPSC a call...

Toll-free Consumer Hotline:
800-638-2772 (TTY 800-638-8270). Hotline staff may be reached from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm ET. Messages may be left anytime after these hours. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you're local, call...
General Information: (301) 504-7923 M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm ET
or fax your letters/opinions to them:
Fax: (301) 504-0124 and (301) 504-0025

Send your letters via snail mail:
Street and Mailing Address
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

Send a copy to each person at the CPSC:

Nancy A. Nord, Acting Chairman

Thomas Hill Moore , Commissioner

Office of Public Affairs, Director - Julie Vallese

Office of Compliance and Field Operations Assistant Executive Director – John “Gib” Mullan
Deputy Director – Marc Schoem

Office of Congressional Relations
Director - John “Jack” Horner

Office of the Executive Director
Executive Director – Patsy Semple
Deputy Executive Director – Jacqueline Elder (Acting)

This woman is supposed to be a liason for small businesses
Small Business Ombudsman
Patty Bittner

Please let Designer Y know what you think about my opinion, and this blog post, and leave me a comment.
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