Down comes from many different places, by many companies, and is obtained in several different ways. Some of these methods are better than others, and some are quite inhumane. It’s time to learn where your down comes from.
The real issue comes from one form of down collection, called live plucking. I’m not going to go into the details, but as you can imagine, it’s a terrible process. Before now, companies could get their down from anywhere they wanted, and customers were oblivious as to their origins. Thankfully, this is starting to change. There are companies who are stepping up to ensure that your down comes from an ethical and humane source. The RDS (Responsible Down Standard) has been produced to guarantee just that. Any garment that follows this standard has been sourced responsibly. A full breakdown of the standard and what it includes can be found here. It’s extensive, and covers all areas of collection, and is constantly being updated.
Newer garments can actually be tagged with information that allows transparency as far as where their down comes from, and this can be tracked via trackmydown.com Simply look on the tag of the garment and find the “lot number”, type in the “Source Track” number provided, and you’ll be granted information on where the down comes from, how it was sourced, and if it’s up to the RDS standards or not. The best part? It works internationally, so sneaky companies can’t use that to hide behind the curtains.
A few companies that are already proudly compliant with the new RDS standards are The North Face, Montane, Vaude, Stio, Merrell, and Feathered Friends.
Allied Feather and Down (the leading supplier of down in the outdoor industry) has been instrumental in making RDS as reality, both creating the website TrackMyDown.com and the SourceTRACK software that powers it. They’ve also recently partnered with Stio (makers of mountain apparel based out of Jackson-Hole) to further push the production of more responsible products.
If this trend along with the education of the public about down and it’s origins continues, we’ll be making great strides toward shifting the entire outdoor industry into something more responsible, protecting the wild that we love so much.
If you’re favorite brands aren’t on board, ask them why not? Send them an email, post on Facebook, and you too can have a part in producing a better product, both for you and the creatures that provide the insulation.
Featured image courtesy of Allied Feather and Down.