Tuesday, October 9, 2007

...yikes, all these toy recalls!!

I'm sure a lot of you have been reading or at least heard about all these toy recalls in recent months due to excessive levels of lead in the paint for toys. Not that toy recalls are uncommon but there has just been so many of them lately, it's disheartening. And after reading about the stories behind it [and who knows who has the REAL story], it's kinda confusing. The basic schpiel [from what I've gathered] is that some European company had tested some of the toys that they had made in China and found unacceptable levels of lead in them, which caused American companies to test their products, as well. Unfortunately, the more they tested, the more lead-laced toys they found, which started the massive recalls. Some companies even started recalling toys that were "suspected" to have lead in them, causing more panic in already alarmed parents. So, that frustrated me - not knowing which toys were safe for the kiddies since J still chews on them sometimes. Then it was reading all the articles in newspapers and blogs simply blaming the Chinese for this entire fiasco which also really frustrated me. In my opinion, in life, nothing is that cut and dry, black and white. There are so many sides to this story and I'm finding out even more as I read. So, in short, I'm not defending the Chinese goverment or trying to shift the blame onto someone else. And, along with the authors of the aforementioned articles, I do not agree with the Chinese government for their lack of Human Rights policies nor do I think that their government does not need better policies in terms of lead paint, etc.. OK, just wanted to cover that. :) But what I want to point out is that blaming any one party does not get us anywhere. And if you want to talk blame, this woman says it well:

"While China and the underfunded CPSC are partly to blame, so are American importers, retailers, investors and consumers, who variously demand lower prices, higher sales and increased growth - all at the expense of quality, said Mary Teagarden, a Thunderbird School of Global Management expert in offshoring. Downward price pressure exerted by big-box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. squeezes suppliers all the way down the supply chain, Teagarden said." (article)

It makes me think: What about the American companies who are supposed to be checking up on these factories? [A side note to applaud Mattel for taking responsibility (article) for their part in this and to applaud the Melissa & Doug company for showing that it's possible to make quality, lead-free toys in China (blog entry).] Is my demand for cheaper toys contributing to this whole mess? Should I start making my own toys from organic materials grown in my backyard in organic soil? J/K! Anyhow, I'm getting off the soapbox now. I just wanted to share another perspective on this situation. Phew! :)