Help Support Responsible Manufacturers and Local Jobs!
We recently posted about our concerns with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). As we get closer to the implementation of the CPSIA, there is a growing anxiety in the local, handmade craft community.
One of our local vendors, has decided to throw in the towel rather than wait and see if the CPSIA is amended. Others are waiting and hoping that much needed changes will be made but have made it clear that they will not be able to continue if the regulations are not modified.
When we opened our doors five years ago, we helped redefine the choices families had in Portland. We have prided ourselves on offering our customers practical, safe, environmentally-friendly products and have strived to provide local and USA made alternatives to imports whenever possible. During this time, we helped enhance the visibility of many locally made items and have seen some of these “cottage industries” grow from hobbies, to second incomes, to primary incomes, and to even more.
Our business standards have been emulated by a number of retailers since that time. We are more than flattered by the imitation. We are proud that an adherence to environmental and ethical values in the “baby marketplace” and a support of local vendors have been embraced. As such, it is more than a little distressing that the opportunities for work at home mothers and others to create their own ethical economic path is being threatened.
When you look at the issues that emerged last year, there were two common threads. First, every recalled toy was made in China. Second of all, the facilities that actually made the toys in question were independent overseas contractors. The toy companies – often US-based – that contracted these factories had limited objective oversight on safety and factory conditions. However these companies were active when it came to ensuring that production services were provided at as low a cost as possible.
Lack of oversight by the manufacturers and the local, regional, and national governments where the facilities were sited plus a lowest cost expectation created a perverse incentive for contractors to try and “cheat the system”. These are the factors that not only led to lead tainted toys but to other tragedies such as the toxic pet food and, more recently, dairy products.
The bottomline is that the violation of the public trust was not made by domestic manufacturers as well as companies in Canada and the EU that source all their materials, have full control of every step of the manufacturing process and are fully responsible for it. The CPSIA is a response to legitimate safety concerns but the fact that many small, responsible companies will end up paying the price for the “mistakes” made by Chinese manufacturers is more than ironic, it is a downright tragedy.
There is a path out of this regulatory mess. The handmade toy alliance and others have put forward solutions that will enhance safety in the marketplace without eliminating craft-industries and small and mid-sized enterprises from store shelves.
How can you help? We thought you would never ask
Here are some ideas on what you can do to help in order of relevance in our opinion:
- Contact your congressional delegation. A form letter as well as contact information may be found here: http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/how-you-can-help
- Raise the visibility of this issue with the Obama adminstration. Vote and comment on the issue here:http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia
- Notify your friends, family, and neighbors about this issue.
- Send a letter to the editor about this to your local press. If you live in Portland, here is contact info for the larger local newspapers:http://saveouropenspace.com/contact-the-press/
- Sign the on-line petition concerning this issue:http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/handmadetoys/
The Fuentes Family