Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Safe Toys for Christmas/ Great Toys in Danger

This Christmas, I'm really hoping "Santa" brings Marlee some high-quality, safe, handmade toys. It's always a touchy subject with family. I don't want to be rude or ungrateful, but I also don't want another plastic toy that is 1. Loaded with chemicals 2. Noisy and overstimulating 3. Cheaply made so it will end up in a landfill and release said chemicals for eons. I generally approach the subject by asking people not to get her anything with noises or lights. That pretty much rules out the toddler section at most toy stores. I also created a wish list at one of my favorite toy sites I sent an email with links to handmade toys at Etsy. I guess I can report back in two weeks and let you know if my tactics worked. How are you handling requests this Christmas?

When shopping for your little one or after the gifts are unwrapped, you can check the safety of specific toys at It measures levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, and other toxins in toys, bottles, toddler dishes, and more. I check nearly every toy before opening the box.

As I mention, my ideal toys are handmade with love and care. Sadly, those toys are in danger.

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatroy testing will likely drive them out of business.

* A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
* A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
* A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
* And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.

If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered.

How You can Help:
Please write to your United States Congress Person and Senator to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys. Use the sample letter or write your own. You can find your Congress Person here and Senator here .


Jennifer said...

I sell baby slings and a few other things on Etsy. It is so important to support independent artisans. When I am looking to buy something I check Etsy first. I'm all for toys being safe but I believe that handmade is more likely to be safe since they are made with love and great attention to detail. Thanks so much for posting this and for the sample letter. I know I'll be writing.

Pasifik said...

I agree with you. We have to give our kids safe toys.

Happy blogging,

Toddler Toys