This week's letter of the week comes from local entrepreneur Katie Stewart who asks readers to rally behind her and other small business owners caught up in a new product safety crackdown. Thanks for the letter Katie. We can't change an act of Congress but we will give you a shiny new pint glass and a cold beverage to fill it for your winning letter. Swing by our office at the corner of Bond and Georgia to collect your prize.
Many of us have heard of the toy recalls that occurred as a result of some lead-tainted toys sold in 2007 and some of us have heard of the resulting law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, (CPSIA) that was passed this past summer and takes effect February 10th, 2009. There has been some news coverage of the potential effects of this law on thrift stores and resellers of children's products, mostly the closing of these stores as they will be unable to test all of their inventory to ensure it all meets the new safety standards. This is a terrible effect of this law, no doubt, as many families around this country rely on these secondhand stores to provide quality clothes and other products for their children, and my family is no exception. However, many Americans face an even greater problem as a result of this law, and there has been an unfortunate lack of media attention given to this.
I have spent the past year and a half building a business in my home making and selling cloth diapers as a way of contributing to our household income while remaining at home with my two kids. This extra income is very important for us to make ends meet. But, with this law taking effect, if it remains as currently written, I will be forced out of business, even though I make my diapers out of materials that are already established as being safe, cottons and polyesters as well as organic fabrics, all of which have little to no lead or pthalates in them. The law currently requires that all finished products of different batches be tested, whether or not they are made from raw materials that have already been tested and proven safe. I cannot afford to test my diapers every time I start on a new bolt of fabric or a new spool of thread.
I support the intent of this law; I want safe toys and products for our children as much as the next person. However, this law is poorly written. It has too broad of an effect, and it will force American-based small businesses, like mine, to close. This will cost jobs, and mean that our choices as consumers are further limited to buying mass-produced products from overseas. I don't believe that our economy can afford such a blow right now, and I know my family can't. Please take time to contact our government representatives and ask for a revision of this law for the protection of small businesses and our rights as consumers.
Katie Stewart, owner Rumpty Dumpty Diapers