By Danielle Annecston
It’s that time of year again when everyone breaks out their scarves and winter coats. Walking down the street, I see down-feathered coat after down-feathered coat, yet people are not aware of where the filling comes from.
For years, down feathers have been used to retain heat in basic household items, especially in the cold winter months. Down feathers, the feathers closest to the bird’s chest, are small and close enough together to retain heat the body produces. These feathers are the ones harvested to put into the very jacket you are wearing.
What I have found is people believe these feathers are humanely harvested, as if someone stands around waiting for the feathers to drop to the ground only to be picked up seconds later to be used.
In reality, feathers are live-plucked off of ducks and geese that are kept in tiny cages to be fattened for the food industry. People are paid to pluck feathers from the birds’ chests, leaving bleeding gashes in their place only to stitch their skin up. This is repeated five to six times in their life before they are slaughtered for the food industry.
For years, Four Paws International, an animals’ rights organization based in Europe, has been fighting for more humane down-made material. Multiple name-brand companies, such as North Face, have agreed to look at feather distributors and demand to know the source of where their products are coming from. This has forced distributors to change their methods of harvesting. The feathers are still taken from animals, but taken as a byproduct from the meat industry after the birds have been slaughtered.
I still cringe walking down the street when seeing a jacket that contains down feathers or a friend’s down comforter. Not saying we should all become vegan, but consider taking another look at our favorite childhood game of duck, duck, goose and create a new ending.