What’s Hiding Inside Your Winter Coat? The Lowdown on Down

The crisp weather and soon-to-be winter months are right around the corner. So you might be thinking about shopping for the just-right jacket, or even comforter. You’re probably wanting something soft, fluffy, and better yet, extra warm. But there’s a few things to consider while shopping for your next personal item. It all starts with what’s inside and how that product came to be.

What Makes These Products So Comfy?

Tons of clothing and bedding contain down feathers, which are the soft, fluffy feathers that lie closest to a bird’s skin. In America, these birds are usually geese, but can be any type of bird, from ducks to ostriches. These birds have their feathers plucked right out of them, while they’re still alive and without any anesthesia. Most of the birds experience extreme distress and severely painful wounds. Oftentimes, they are either left with wounded bodies or are stitched back up immediately after plucking without any painkillers. The feathers are then sold to large corporations that produce clothing and bedding for companies.

Purchasing down feathers also has a connecting link to the meat industry. Several farmers who raise geese, or any other bird for that matter, not only sell their meat but sell the birds feathers for extra profit. This is not a ‘kill and then use what’s left’ situation. These birds are still painfully plucked prior to their death.

What About The ‘Responsibly’ Plucked Feathers?

This lies in the same realm as ‘free range’ and ‘ethically treated’ animal products. These labels are consistently used to give consumers a piece of mind. It’s impossible to know how these birds were treated during the process of plucking. Several companies that sell down products, like Sears, Costco, and even Amazon, stand by their ‘non-live plucking’ standards, but how true can these really be? How much information is really being provided for these companies about what goes on inside these farms?

However, there are some companies that are doing something about the ‘live plucking’. Wendy Savage oversees animal welfare at Patagonia. Here’s what she had to say about it:

There were no standards around live-plucking and force-feeding, so we thought we needed to create our own. We listened to what animal welfare groups were saying. Even though they were attacking us [Patagonia], they had uncovered some things.

Wendy has worked with Patagonia to ditch their recent supplier and to focus on the molting process of the birds’ feathers from their new suppliers. Patagonia requires them to be completely transparent and commit to continually improving their standards in order to work together. Even with these assurances, many people are still put off by the use of down feathers.

How Can I Ensure The Best From My Purchases?

It all starts will choosing cruelty-free products, whether it’s bedding or clothing. It’s important to remember that these birds need their feathers for survival. There are tons of options available for consumers, whether it be cotton or even synthetic insulation. Always opt for products that are vegan, and are free of feathers, leather, and fur. Search for coats through sustainable companies, like Vaute Couture, Wully Outerwear, and Save the Duck. Check out home goods from a quality company like Boll & Branch.

Find the best products for you and your family, and remember that you can stay warm and comfy without using down.

Author: Erica Reichstein | Facebook | Instagram | Website