Due to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) natural toys have been getting a lot of attention lately. It has quite frankly woken many people up the value of homemade and all the reasons we need to fight to protect these items. To lose them would be to lose a part of our natural history… a part of our heritage. For us and for children all over the country it would mean a loss of the magic that is unique to hand crafted toys.
By voicing our concerns over the poorly written CPSIA legislation we can save the toys and help to ensure that our local artisans can continue to operate… artisans like Beccijo Neff of The Fairy Ring and The Enchanted Cupboard. Toys and handcrafted items like what you find here are magical, charming, and bewitching.
I interviewed Beccijo this week and asked her about CPSIA, her business, and why preserving the traditions of handmade are so important. Of course first I asked her how she got started in this business.
Beccijo: As a child in rural Pennsylvania I spent much of my time inventing new things to play with. New games and toys were always being made by me in my free time, and I never remember being bored. My parents encouraged creativity. I loved kids, and there was never a short supply in my big, extended family. There was always someone around to try out my new game with. I felt blessed by my life back then. After high school, college beckoned. I pursued the course that my artistic talents led me on, but in my heart I always wanted to be a nanny. My mother had a nanny growing up, and I loved the stories she told me about afternoons at the beach in Australia with her sisters and the nanny. I decided to follow my dream, and in 1991, I enrolled in The English Nanny and Governess School. Afterward, many years passed as I lived that dream being the enchanted Nanny I always dreamed I would be.
Years later I found a prince among men and married him in 1997. We started our family in 2000 and now have 4 beautiful, wonderful children for me to create for and dream with. I am now a happy housewife, SAHM and homeschooler trying to find ways to bring that same childhood enchantment that I experienced to my own children. Besides caring for my family, the other thing that brings me great joy is making things that encourage creativity. First I was just a shopper on Etsy, and then I started making items for other kids and thought that this might be a good idea for a few shops. This year I got the biggest joy knowing that under other people’s Christmas trees, my toys were waiting all wrapped up.
Tiffany: What is CPSIA?
Beccijo: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is a new law that is intended to insure the safety of basically any consumer product that is intended for 12 year olds and younger. It requires materials testing of all clothes, toys, books, educational materials, baby items, etc. to prove that they do not contain any toxic materials. It was passed last year in response to the influx of materials from overseas that had lead paint and other toxic materials on them.
Tiffany: Who will be impacted by this legislation? And why should parents care?
Beccijo: Everyone who buys or sells items for kids 12 yrs. old or under will be affected by this law. Parents should care because the law as it is stated now is too broad and will eliminate many nice and useful products from the marketplace because smaller manufacturers will not be able to afford the testing that is required by the law. Handmade toys and other organic and safe products are required to be tested even though by their very nature they are made from safe materials. This means that many handmade wooden toys and other products like them will disappear from the marketplace.
It is good that the government is stepping up and taking action on lead, but this law is very vague in it’s terminology to the point where it encompasses anything and everything. The lawmakers wanted to make sure that there were no loopholes in the law, but they went too far. And now the law is affecting those who make, sell and benefit from quality items that are safe including small shops, crafters, charities, yard sales, EVERYONE! One of the worst parts of the law is the mandatory (re)testing by third party certified laboratories. The cost for the testing is overwhelming and has actually increased by as much as 20% in the last few months. My main complaint regarding the law is that my supplies are bought at the same craft stores you buy you paints, etc. and they have already been tested and labeled as non-toxic. When I put them together, they are still non toxic and should not have to be retested.
Tiffany: What is being done right now to try and save the hand made toy?
Beccijo: Things are changing fast. Right now, the government is beginning to hear the complaints, and they are making exemptions and rewriting parts (see the story at this link. So right now we need to keep writing letters and emails and making calls.
Those that know and care are doing what they can, but we need to get the word out and we need support from every parent. Everyone just needs to write, type, email and call. Get yourself heard! Contact Congress! Your representative can be reached at:
Contact your Senator here….
(choose your state on top to get started)
Contact the CPSC directly here….
Tiffany: Anything else to share about CPSIA?
Beccijo: As a parent I try hard to live in such a way as to be an example to my children. When I have to wait in line, I point out that I, as an adult, have to take turns. When they don’t like to share, I point out that I let them share my things even when I don’t always want to. So this is another great example for me to show them. Just like for them, for adults there are rules. Sometimes those rules are not fair in my eyes, for them it is bedtimes and eating veggies. For me, right now, it is the CPSIA. I have heard lots of comments about the toy police not coming after the crafters. And to me, openly disobeying the law is not the point and not the example I want to send to my children. I would rather take the opportunity to teach them how people can influence the government to achieve what is fair and right. Let’s find a way to get a good solid law in place that protects the quality of our children’s lives without removing the things that are already there and safe for them.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009