Down production: An unnecessary cruelty

Puffer jackets are popular during winter. It is not surprising as they keep you warm and are comfortable to wear. However, did you know that your puffer jacket might contain down? And are you aware of the cruelty involved in down production? Unfortunately, many people are not.

 

Down comes from the fluffy bit of a duck’s or goose’s chest. They are the feathers that are the closest to a bird’s body, which helps keep them warm.

 

The majority of down comes from China, where there are few laws to protect animals. Down is often harvested using a process known as “live plucking”. Birds are held upside down and their feathers are ripped out by hand. Plucking often tears the skin, leaving deep bleeding gashes which are sewn up with a needle and thread, and no pain relief is provided. A bird may be live plucked several times (up to 6 times a year) before slaughter.

 

Some feathers may come from geese raised for foie gras (fatty liver) production. These geese are force fed much more than they would voluntarily eat so that their livers become unnaturally large.

 

Some companies claim that they source their down after birds naturally moult, but this is only a very small portion of the down produced.

 

There is a Responsible Down Standard (RDS) sets welfare standards for ducks and geese used to provide down for products and provides certification. It prohibits live-plucking and force-feeding.

 

However, it is still down which is a duck’s or geese’s protection from the cold. Therefore, the most ethical thing to do would be to avoid down.

 

You can find kinder alternatives to down that are light and warm, these include:

-Polyester

-Cotton

-Primaloft (synthetic microfiber thermal insulation material)

-Thinsulate (synthetic fibre thermal insulation that is thin, light and warm)

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