Toxic toys, or toxic to green businesses?

savehandmade3

 

There is growing attention to an issue that has become critical to the survival of small, green-oriented children’s businesses like ours. What happens in the following days and weeks will determine not only whether many of these small businesses survive, but also whether parents concerned about healthy options for their children will continue to have a range of products to choose from.

Here is a letter that outlines to problem:

 

 

Natalie Singer-Velush

Owner, Punkernoodle Baby

7350 Mary Ave. NW

Seattle, WA 98117

 

January 4, 2009

Jim McDermott

Congressman

7th Congressional District, WA

1809 7th Avenue, Suite 1212
Seattle, WA 98101-1399

Dear Friends of Punkernoodle Baby and other local small business –

 

We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress to pass the HR4040 or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) created by the CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Commission).  We are pleased that Congress passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead and phthalates and addressing other safety issues, however, parts of this bill will directly affect all small handmade toy makers, clothing resalers and store owners in a way that could put many of us, who make child safety and the environment our top priority, out of business.

Punkernoodle Baby is a small business based out of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle that sells cloth diapers and organic baby clothes and cotton toys. As former journalists and parents of two young children, we decided to start our company in January 2008 because we strongly believe in a greener and healthier approach to parenting and in supporting our environment. We invested $20,000 of savings and credit to purchase our inventory of cloth diapers – many of them handmade by mothers in Washington and other nearby states. We have grown slowly and are working hard in a difficult economy to stay afloat and contribute positively to our community through education, advocacy and charitable efforts. Our business is exactly what Washington needs right now – small, local companies committed to growing our economy with fair labor, healthy products and green business practices.

 

But our business and all others like ours is now at grave risk.

 

The CPSIA rules now require that all products for children under 12 be tested, including natural handmade toys and cloth diapers, clothes and blankets, at a cost of $4,000 per item.  This cost would put us out of business.  We would also be required to label each item with a permanent batch label.  This is another cost that could force us out of

business. A company of our size simply cannot weather this type of costly requirement. The rules, while well-meaning, are too far-reaching: Companies such as ours have been concerned over toxic children’s products for years, and many of our businesses grew out of a desire to bring healthy alternatives to parents. Ironically, these companies where parents have been able to seek out natural clothing, toys and diapers are now the ones at risk, because unlike the large corporations marketing mainstream products often manufactured overseas, we cannot afford individual testing. Furthermore, most of the products we do sell – cotton clothing, cloth diapers, wooden toys, are not manufactured with materials that can contain lead or phthalates.

These regulations are set to go into effect, retroactively, on Feb. 10. Coverage of the impact has been growing:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2008587800_danny04.html

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-taintedtoys25-2008dec25,0,5058994.story

 

Please act now to help us save the hundreds of Washington businesses and millions of dollars they generate for the state that will be at risk.

  

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we sincerely appreciate your help.

 

One response to “Toxic toys, or toxic to green businesses?

  1. Hi Natalie,
    Great meeting you today! I love your blog. Please send me an e-mail about the writing group – we’d love to have you join us.

    allison@hopscotch-consulting.com

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