Down is the most efficient insulation for clothing and sleeping bags; it is much warmer for a given weight than other insulators and it is long lasting. Over the years, there have been some issues surrounding the ethical nature of down products and how they are produced.
The most ethically sourced down is that gathered from nests, however this is a time consuming process which is not feasible for production processes. Down is also recovered 'ethically' as a bi-product of the meat industry when birds are killed for food, this is the most common source of ethical down.
The down used in outdoor gear is a natural byproduct of the food industry; the waterfowl which provide the warm insulation have been farmed or raised for food, not their feathers. By using the plumage for natural insulation, it helps to reduce the amount of agricultural waste.
According to the IDFB (International Down and Feather Bureau), down is the environmentally friendly choice outdoor gear, as it:
• Is biodegradable – As a natural product it decomposes and goes back to the earth;
• Conserves resources – As a by-product of the food industry, no resources are going to waste, and no byproducts are being put into landfills;
• Is renewable – Synthetic fill materials are often composed of non-renewable resources like oil, whereas down and feathers are renewable resources.
Overall, down and feather products require a lower carbon footprint to produce than synthetics. Furthermore, Down is long lasting and only needs to be fluffed up to keep its loft and its insulating ability for outdoor gear does not diminish.
|RAB||Rab Down is traceable under the European Down & Feather Association Codex. This code of conduct determines the source of down; ensuring that it is a byproduct of a slaughterhouse or harvested during moulting periods and not illegally live plucked.|
|MONTANE||Montane use certified non-live plucked and non-force fed down.|
|SEA TO SUMMIT||Sea to Summit firmly believes in the humane treatment of animals regardless of circumstance. We do not use any down that has been ‘live plucked’. All down supplied by our vendors are from ducks and geese that are harvested for the meat industry, therefore the down and feathers are collected as a by-product. Sea to Summit routinely ensures our vendors operate in strict adherence to their own animal welfare policies, furthermore our down shipments are batch certified to guarantee that the down is harvested by appropriate means throughout the supply chain.|
|MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR||Mountain Hardwear value ethical, sustainable manufacturing practices and are committed to assuring that all partners share these values. We are committed to ensuring that the natural goose down used as insulation in many of our products is obtained from suppliers that employ humane harvesting methods.|
|BERGHAUS||As of 2016 all Berghaus down products were 100% RDS certified. As well as the farms and down processing factories being audited to the RDS standard, Berghaus garment factories, and warehouses, are also audited to ensure all the RDS down bought gets into the down jackets and makes it into customers hands. Only then can the products wear the RDS label guaranteeing that 100% of the down in jacket is RDS certified.|
Western Mountaineering have found that the best quality of down can be gathered in a manner that is considerably more humane with little or no direct interaction between the geese and man. The finest quality of down is the plumage which naturally falls from mature geese during a process called “moulting”. Since we are focused on making products with goose down, it was important that we found the best possible source which gathered the down naturally from mature healthy geese. We found this from a very unique and special supplier in Poland which collects our down from the nests of birds that are kept for breeding and live on rivers, lakes and open farm land, after the moulting periods which occur multiple times per year. The plumage that falls naturally is hand collected from the nests without disturbing the birds. We strongly support this approach and feel that it results in higher fill power since the down falls from mature healthy geese naturally, with no harm to the geese, and the perfectly developed, high quality large down clusters are collected while the geese are away from the sheltered nesting area.
Thermarest source their down through DOWNLITE, which is a down and feather processing operation located in Cincinnati, Ohio who supply duck and goose down to manufacturers around the globe. They are bluesign certified and believe in the ethical treatment of waterfowl; all material procured by Thermarest - DOWNLITE is bought via channels where birds are being raised for the purpose of sale in the poultry industry and the feather and down is a bi-product that would otherwise be disposed of as waste upon processing of the birds.
|CRUX||Crux down products use Polish goose down; we use only Polish goose down because we can guarantee the integrity of the means of its collection, and the quality of the fill power. Poland bans both live-plucking and force-feeding practices, the two main areas of ethical concerns. Our supplier is a producer of goose-meat, their major export market being Germany. They have a vertical operation, which means they have complete control over the breeding, raising and killing processes of geese. Down is a very valuable by-product of their business.|
|MARMOT||As part of our policy for the humane treatment of animals, Marmot does not support the use of Down from live pluck or Foie Gras geese or ducks. Every year we require our suppliers to certify that they are in compliance with our animal rights policies.|
|OUTDOOR RESEARCH||The down Outdoor Research use meets the RDS Down Standard: The TE (Textile Exchange) Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that down or feathers are sourced from responsibly treated geese, ducks, or other waterfowl, and tracks the material through the supply chain. This standard ensures that down does not come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm and institutes a traceability system to validate the source of the material.|
|BIG AGNES||All down used by Big Agnes is ethical and traceable.|
|YETI||The origin of the downs is important to us true to the philosophy. These downs originate from geese and ducks growing up on European pastures, species-appropriate and loose. The animals are raised for meat production and plucked only after their death. We cooperate with farmers having committed by contract not to pluck these animals in living condition.|