CPSIA Blogging Day: The Teddy Bears Warn

We're Making Buttons! by Hasenpfeffer Incorporated


This button comes from the good folks at Hassenpfeffer Inc., the team of Daniela and Chris Shelton who recycle used clothing and toys to make soft dolls and teddy bears and the like. The two are also part of an active, exercised group of craftsmen, toymakers and small-scale manufacturers who see their vocations threatened by the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

As explained at the Hassenpfeffer Flickr site:

 As a reaction to the dangerous-toy scare last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission created something called the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act. It requires all manufacturers of children’s goods to submit their products for testing for lead and phthalates.

While that’s good in the overall scheme, it has some potentially damaging side effects. The problem is that the average testing fee runs a few thousand dollars. Making matters worse, we would have to submit each and every toy for testing since no two are alike (she makes her stuff from salvaged materials like old wool coats and such). Naturally you can see what this version of the act would do to the handmade toy and craft industry (it’s more than macramé owls nowadays).

They link to a website and open letter from the Handmade Toy Alliance, which describes itself as “an alliance of toy stores, toymakers and children’s product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve unique handmade toys, clothes, and all manner of children’s goods in the USA.”

Manufacturers, trade associations and many others raised many red flags during the Congressional consideration last year of H.R. 4040, warning that, good intentions notwithstanding, it represented a legislative overreaction to the scare over lead-contaminated toys. For their troubles, activists maligned thom as insensitive, money-grubbing, callous corporations.

It’s harder to engage in the same kind of political search-and-destroy mission against craftsmen and hobbyists turned small business owners, concerned about their livelihoods. More power to them, and let’s see if members of Congress will be able to stand up to the marching teddy bears.


We came to the Hassenpfeffer posts via Overlawyered, where Walter Olson has been diligently following the issue. Yesterday was CPSIA Blogging Day, as recounted by Walter on his blog.

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