Saturday, January 31, 2009

Save Handmade!

Consuming handmade goods are one of the simplest, most enjoyable ways to be environmentally friendly. Not only does it support small business, it's all also made locally or at least in-country, lovingly and with great care. Many of those who make and sell handmade goods also ensure the raw materials are organic or otherwise naturally sourced. And the simple fact of not being mass-produced, with the associated overhead, waste and shipping, means the footprint of handmade goods are far lighter.

However, Handmade is in danger. After the repeated lead scares coming from some goods made in China, a new law was passed to protect children: the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Under this new law, all goods sold in the US targeted towards children 12 and under must undergo stringent safety tests to ensure they are safe for kids.

The problem here is that the rules apply to all - even those creating homemade goods in their basement while their kids are asleep. And the rules mean that each individual component involved in the creation of the item must be separately tested by the creator of the item. Making a sock monkey to be sold? Then the socks, buttons, and stuffing all must be individually tested by the crafter, *not* the manufacturer of the raw goods. Meaning, most crafters will not be able to afford to continue selling their goods in the USA, because they will have prices like this.

Why am I posting this on ecochick, a Canadian weblog? Because I love handmade, and I love Etsy, and both the industry that is supporting thousands of households and the amazing website they use to sell their wares will die if this law stays in effect. So I appeal to any American readers of ecochick to do something.

Etsy has an excellent action kit. There's an entire website dedicated to Reforming CPSIA. Take a look. Write some letters. Make some phone calls. And save Handmade.

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