If you have been shopping for puffer jackets this winter, you’ll come across selling points based on ethical sourcing of down feathers or vegan options. Why the concern? Farm workers pluck down feathers from captive live birds. This process leaves birds traumatized, in pain, and some die as a result.
The questionable treatment of captive geese and ducks has led to more companies certifying the feathers used in their products. Lululemon, for example, notes that they use Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for their merchandise.
But undercover investigations show that certification based on RDS doesn’t always mean that live-plucking doesn’t occur, or that farmers always follow humane practices. With a lack of transparency in the supply chain, certifying the process can prove elusive.
This investigation shows there is no way to tell whether down is live-plucked just by looking at it.
80% of the world’s down comes from China.Anne Kellog | PETA Manager of Corporate Affairs | CBS News
Technology and Ethics
Others argue that there is really no ethical way to keep animals in captivity, as long as they are used for commodity. The alternative, choose to buy puffer jackets filled with sustainable materials free of animal products.
Down alternative consists of synthetic materials. Noize and Save the Duck represent 100% animal and cruelty-free brands. Noize, based in Montreal, Canada, and Save the Duck, based in Milan, Italy, both use factories in China for production. Taking into account environmental concerns, the brands also offer jackets made with recycled materials such as plastic bottles.
Some companies that sell goose down filled jackets also offer animal-free alternatives. If looking for vegan options, make sure to check out materials and composition to verify.
However, the beauty of shopping from vegan brands such as Noize and Save the Duck is that there’s no need to meticulously check if a merchandise has animal-derived materials.
Are Synthetic Fibers Eco-Friendly?
Although animal-free, some question the environmental impact of synthetic fibers. When washed, these types of materials leave microfibers. These fibers pollute the ocean and devastate marine life.
To address this concern, Guppyfriend wash bags offer a solution. Concerns such as, what is the bag made of and does the bag release microfibers, can be found in the company FAQ. Their product went through three years of testing “by scientific institutes, universities, retailers and representatives of the outdoor and fashion industry” including the “University of California, Santa Barbara as part of a Patagonia research program”.
Everlane offers another solution to the ethical use of down. The company’s ReDown line uses recycled down, usually with a minimum of 80% recycled down.
By practicing mindful shopping, you apply the power of the purse. You want to transact with companies that align with your ethical beliefs. It’s also a time to reflect on what ethical means for you. In this case, does it mean using animal products certified by third-party organizations, or avoiding animal products all together?
The More You Know
Save the Duck has a responsible supply chain page that allows you to learn about the factories they use in China for production.