Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Say NO to duck/goose down products

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Clothing | 7 comments

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” – Mother Teresa


Now that winter is just around the corner and our thoughts turn to warming jackets, doonas, puffy vests, sleeping bags, pillows and the like, please avoid buying products containing duck/goose Down. Until recent years, I didn’t give down products much thought and equated them with luxury and warmth. No longer !


I have discovered that down feathers are collected from birds by one of two means – most commonly as a by product of intensively farmed meat and fois gras birds or, horrifyingly, from live birds where they can be “live plucked” up to 6 times per year before being slaughtered at a young age. It goes without saying that this obviously involves an enormous amount of pain and terror for the birds. They are forcibly held down as their feathers are ripped from their bodies which often tears their flesh, only to be crudely stitched up again without anesthetic. Both methods are derived from cruel practices with the former, by product option being yet another way of supporting the vile intensive farming industry or, worse still, the fois gras producers.

China, Poland and Hungary are the biggest producers of duck and goose down. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) estimates that 50% of down comes from live plucked birds, yet the Feather and Down industries in China and Europe provide figures of approximately 3 %. I would imagine that the figure lies somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, there is little transparency in tracing where the feathers have come from. (In 2009, a Swedish Doco estimated that in Hungary 50-80% of down products came from live plucked birds. IKEA independently reviewed this figure and found it to be accurate and, impressively, cancelled their order of products.)

Avoiding down products does not mean going chilly, quite the contrary as there are so many alternative warm insulation fillings such as PrimaLoft available.


 For Doonas

Doonas and pillows containing synthetic fillings are widely available but, next time I am in the market for a new doona, I will be going to :

Bamboo Village. Bamboo is sustainable and, surprisingly, warm (I invested in some bamboo thermals last year for winter in New Zealand and stayed cosy).

For Puffy Jackets

All the big, outdoorsy companies (Katmandu, Patagonia, North Face etc) have a plethora of down free options.

This one, from Patagonia may be a bit dramatic for our mild Sydney winter (and perhaps a tad shiny for my taste).  However, not only is it down free BUT it is filled with recycled soda bottles and second hand fabrics so is very environmentally kind. I am also impressed by the transparency and honesty shown by Patagonia towards their down products which they talk about in a refreshingly unbiased manner here.

If you don’t wish to go down free, at the very least, purchase your garment from one of the suppliers who claim to avoid feathers from live plucked birds. These companies include IKEA, Katmandu, Patagonia and Marks and Spencer.

Whilst researching this topic, I got a tad side tracked and ended up stalking overseas companies who make gorgeous, warm coats free from any animal products and, maybe I am stating the bleeding obvious BUT the overseas winter stuff is all on sale for us Australians at this time of year. I prefer to buy Australian when possible but our Northern Hemisphere friends really do know how to do the cold weather thing better. Take a look !

* Voutecouture Vaute3_large: A US Company. Their coats (see pink one to the left) and clothes in general are beautiful and cruelty free.

* Irie Organics : A UK Company who specialise in Hemp based coats and clothes which has a dowdy ring to it (“Hemp”) but some of the jackets are lovely so don’t let the Hemp word put you off ! They donate to Sea Shephard too from the sale of some of their products.

As an interesting aside, the only real cruelty free feather product which exists is EiderDown. If your pockets are lined with gold, it is something you could consider (US$1975 (!!) for an EiderDown pillow is the going rate). The feathers are left behind in the nests of the Eider Ducks in Iceland each Spring and pain stakingly gathered to make some outrageously comfortable doona or pillow for some lucky, rich person.



 Further Interesting articles / videos

Cruelty Beneath the Covers : Go Down-Free with Alicia Silverstone

Can Down be Ethical or Green

Down and Feathers

A Vegan Friendly Winter Parker

A Guide to Insulated Winter Jackets that are not made with Duck Down


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Skip

    I’ll keep you more than warm this winter!!

  2. Melinda

    Great article Ingy. I’m sure not many people give this area of animal production much thought. It’s up to us to spread the word!! I like Skip’s idea!! Haha.

    • Treadkindly

      Thanks Miss Mel. Well and truly up to us to keep spreading the word – I bet you are doing wonders with spreading the word by your lifestyle….you are well and truly walking the talk ! Skip’s a creepy lill’ bugger isn’t he ?? xxx

  3. Andy Rod

    Skip, you’re creepin’ me out..Ok, you can keep Inge warm, but leave the rest of us out of it! Re. Down and feathers, I had no idea. Will look more closely next time I hunt for warm gear.. though Skip could tell you from last Friday drinks, cotton singlets generally are enough for me. They’re easy to carry and if you forget to grab it off the back of your chair after some fine dining, it’s no big loss. Roda:)

    • Treadkindly

      A, he is one creepy man isn’t he (alas a warm, creepy man!). So you left your cotton singlet on the back of your chair after dinner. What ?!?! Which left you wearing ??? It must’ve been a good night out !! x

  4. kate Reilly

    Thanks for this information my love– that’s it for me and feathers. xx mum

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