Upsetting news this morning from a fellow Austin momma: A new federal law goes into effect February 10th that will ban all products sold for children 12 years of age and younger that have not been tested for lead and phthalates (chemicals used to make plastics more pliable). This includes used children's used clothing as well as handmade products. The testing is prohibitively expensive for small businesses and products that have not been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.
This is really not the best way to handle the threat of lead in our children's lives.
First of all there is the economic backlash that will cause many small businesses to shut their doors including small clothing manufacturers, handmade toy companies, and children's consignment shops. We really don't need any more economic stumbling blocks for our small business owners these days. Didn't congress get the memo on that?
Second, there is the economic impact on all of us budget conscience parents. I personally try and take advantage of consignment shops and thrift stores to find barely used clothing and gear for my kids. I recently bought my son's baptism outfit consisting of a brand new pair of Strideright white dress shoes and a Kissy-Kissy white sweater at the Pumpkin Patch consignment shop here in Austin. (neither of which I will ever put on him again). I paid a mere $15 total. I would have paid close to $100 if I had bought them new.
Third -- what about teaching our kids to reuse and recycle? Now little Suzie and Johnny will grow up with the notion that you have to buy new for it to be safe?
I understand that we all need to practice safety and that lead in our children's toys is a significant health hazard. However, this is really not the best approach. Can't the government somehow make lead testing more affordable for small businesses? They seem to be making sure that digital television will be affordable and accessible for all Americans with the changeover next month. Or why not hold parents accountable for our buying decisions? We can all buy home lead testing kits online!
I believe this is going to create a black market for children's thrift. I envision myself opening up a "speakeasy" on a dark alley in urban East Austin (probably my own house) selling contraband used designer children's clothes, vintage Fisher Price, and Exersaucers. I will keep everyone posted on that.
Sign the petition against the law: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/handmadetoys?e
More details here: http://tinyurl.com/88wc6e
Photo credit: Brandy Sims on Flickr.com
SINCE I POSTED THIS MORNING A READER SENT ME AN UPDATE. http://tinyurl.com/7occ2n
THRIFT STORES AND CONSIGNMENT SHOPS ARE SAFE FROM THIS LAW! Still appears that the small manufacturers and crafters remain unprotected.