What is the Responsible Down Standard and why you should find products that are using it

Have you ever had one of those experiences with pillows that as soon as you place your head on it, your head immediately sinks in? Most likely, those pillows are made up and filled with down. Down is regarded for its insulating capabilities, durability and comfort. Not only are they used in pillows but also for stuff like puffy jackets, sleeping bags, comforters and many more are among the popular uses for down.

As far as insulation goes, down is the most energy-efficient and lightest in terms of both heat production and overall mass consumption. Pretty neat right?

So the question is, what exactly is down?

When it comes to down, it is more than just the feathers that are pulled from ducks and geese. It also includes the soft plumage underneath the feathers that are adjacent to the fowls' skin, which is found underneath the feathers.

Goose down is a bit expensive and less common compared to duck down but it has superior weight-to-warmth ratio and is way fluffier. Down is only harvested from those that are bred for their meat, which is where the issues in regard to environmental factors begin.

Waterfowl reared for meat are sometimes exposed to cruel techniques such as live plucking and force feeding, which may result in death. Live plucking is the removal of feathers from birds while they are still alive, and it is a very stressful and painful operation for the birds involved. When it comes to fattening the livers of ducks and geese, force feeding (which is exactly what it sounds like) is a typical procedure that is done in order to produce foie gras (duck liver).

This rising issue has later brought up the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) which was developed as a result of growing public awareness of these harsh and inhumane practices across the world.

Later on, textile Exchange, a global non-profit organization dedicated to sustainability in the textile and apparel industry, and Control Union Certifications, an accredited third-party certification body with expertise in agriculture and farm systems, partnered with The North Face in 2014 to launch the Responsible Down Standard.

What is the Responsible Down Standard?

The Responsible Down Standard is an independent, optional worldwide standard, which means that firms may choose to certify that their goods comply with it regardless of whether or not they are mandated to do so by law. Not only will these  standards protect the welfare of geese and ducks throughout the procedure of harvesting down and feathers, but  also ensures the traceability across supply chains and verifies the origin of the down used in the garments produced. This will further  strengthen the authenticity of each down giving assurance to both manufacturers and consumers that they are using an authentic down from legitimate sources.

Here are six of the most important aspects of Responsible Down:

1. Force-feeding birds is prohibited.

2. Removal of down or feathers from live birds is prohibited.

3. RDS down and feathers are properly identified, so down and feathers that aren’t RDS-certified aren’t misidentified.

4. From hatching to slaughter, there is holistic respect for the birds’ animal welfare proper feeding and handling, proper health treatment, and a safe environment should all be provided.

5. Each stage in the down supply chain is audited by a third-party certification body no matter where an organization lies in the supply chain, it must provide proper documentation that the down has been acquired from an RDS-certified supplier.

6. Only products with 100% certified down and feathers carry the RDS logo.

It is important that we start to care for nature, and when we say nature it involves the overall ecosystem we are living in. Animals are a part of it, we are a part of it. Not only does having these standards offer protection to our feathered friends but it also opens the door to a more sustainable way of harvesting down. Without these regulations, exploitation can easily be found within the industry of down and having such issues will later on affect the all in all quality and of the product throughout the market.

What's next?

We are proud to say that we at Featherstone use downs that are RDS certified and we support the advocacy of implementing procedures that care for the welfare of ducks and geese. We think with affirmation that these kinds of implementing bodies are the key for a safer and sustainable use of down in this generation and for the future years to come. We stand with the RDS. We stand with nature! Cheers!


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