Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Not Too Late To Be Heard

Welcome to my first Blogpost! Sorry I am so late to join the 21st Century . . . .

As we return to reality in the New Year of 2009, we find ourselves a mere five weeks away from the dreaded February 10th deadline for the new lead and phthalate standards. The battle against this law has been hard fought, the problems real and still threatening, and we haven't yet won significant support from Congress for relief. Nonetheless, despite the long odds, we are being heard and the chances of help are rising. The media coverage has definitely shifted in our direction in the last few weeks (see www.learningresources.com/CPSIA, Kathleen Fasanella's http://www.fashion-incubator.com/ and Rob Wilson's http://www.cpsia-central.ning.com/, among other sites documenting the tide of media coverage focusing on the dark side of the CPSIA). Legislators and their staffers are taking our calls and reading our mail. More importantly, they are reading YOURS. The voices of the people - you - are being heard. A good example: Steve Lamar of the AAFA reports more than 7,500 emails to Congress sent through their trade association website (2,500 since Friday!). See http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476. Simply amazing. Others, like Dan Marshall of the Handmade Toy Alliance, are generating tremendous buzz and interest. Check out their proposal on http://www.change.org/ and vote to support it (http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia).

The great news about the media shift is that we are finally getting recognition that this law is not really about safety - it's about penalties for transgressions. The focus was never really on safety because no one can really say what specific harm the law is trying to prevent. "Everything" is the cop-out answer. By stretching the range of the law beyond common sense limits, the safety effectiveness of the law was destroyed. All that's left is retribution and revenge, not exactly an economic stimulus package. Even the mindnumbing complexity of the hastily-drafted law is a huge practical problem, as anyone attempting to comply can tell you. Unfortunately, the casualty will be the many wonderful, needed and safe products being restricted or likely killed by this law. Is that what we want? More importantly, is that what we want for our children? For those of us who are mission-driven, heart-felt participants in the kid business, this is tough to swallow. It's time to push all the chips in the center of the table and ACT.

You can make a big difference by writing your Congressman and your Senators to express your concern about the CPSIA. Call them, fax them, email them - again and again. They need to HEAR you. Watch this space for talking points and ideas for letters.

Finally, please help build this community by passing along a link to this community. Thanks so much.

Rick

11 comments:

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

Welcome to your first blog post & twitter! Being an advocate for safe products for kids, I'm disappointed with the poorly crafted CPSIA. Who the heck tests wood for phthalates? Why should certificate organic fabrics be tested for lead? It is just silly - and will unfortunately drive several good, eco-friendly companies with toys & children's products that are non toxic out of business - exactly the opposite of the desired effect. Not to mention the huge impact on the resale industry - and if the resale industry can't resell our children's clothes and other products, what is the impact going to be to our landfills?

Jennifer
www.thesmartmama.com
(offering XRF testing services for CPSIA lead content compliance too)

Anonymous said...

Paul,

One thing I encourage business owners to do is CALL their reps, rather than just fax or email them.

These offices are all too used to autogenerated email campaigns that are too easy to create and thus, too easy to ignore. Its hard to ignore a constituent who is on the phone with you.

Making a phone call is the best medicine. I spoke with my Senator's DC office yesterday and he concurred with that advice.

In addition, he also suggested a call to the CPSC, since measure is already law and the details that are most malleable at this point are in their hands.

Mark Riffey
CPSIA and homemade toys...

beckysthisnthat said...

I totally agree with making our environment safer for children...no-brainer there. However, I see no point in making the small business person doing more tests on items that have already been tested by the manufacturer that those items are purchased from. I should be able to use their certificate to certify my items as long as I am not altering the composition.

Esther said...

Welcome to blogger! I have been involved with making safe children's clothing for over 10 years as a Technical Designer and Pattern Maker. This law is overwhelming and forced me to shut down my own start up. I am still consulting with other clothing designers and fighting this from a library's perspective. Keep up the good fight!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick...not sure where to add this comment but I just wanted to tell you that I thought your presentation shown on Utube was AMAZING and very informative! I have been so focused on small sellers like myself and how they would be impacted and hadn't realized (until now) how businesses of your size would also be "taking the hit" I truly wonder if they realized when they made this law how many it would effect. What timing too with our economy the way it is already. Thank you for speaking up not only on behalf of your own company but all of us who will be out of business come Feb.

Thank you from another small business owner!
Heather
http://thepolkadottotspot.etsy.com

Dennis Blackmore said...

We are cheering from the sidelines from Europe!

Janelle S said...

Healthy Child Healthy World is hosting a conference call on the CPSIA on January 15 at 1PST. Learn more about the call at http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/lets_talk_about_the_toxic_toy_bill_cpsia/

(It will be recorded and podcast for those who can't be on).

Janelle S said...

Sorry-don't know why the full URL didn't post above.

http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/lets_talk_about_the_toxic_toy_bill_cpsia/

Pat said...

As a former reading specialist at a K -12 research and development center I am a fan of Learning Resources materials. Now I'm your fan for taking up this cause of the poorly constructed CPSIA legislation. Thank you, thank you!!! The "little" guy feels powerless in our mumbo-jumbo legislative process.
(My daughter is an Etsy mom!)

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

Hard to reply to these painful comments. As you know, I am going to take your message to Congress - we'll see if they listen. I just sent another message to the Rush Subcommittee. Time will tell. Please keep sharing your stories. They are very important.

Jo Baron said...

Do you truly think there's hope for the small childrenswear makers? It's so frustrating & hard to know whether it's worth it to keep fighting.
How do YOU keep the energy going?
Does anyone really listen to us in Washington or are they just nodding their heads?
We don't hear about anyone in DC showing the courage you have.