Breakthrough moment as outdoor brand The North Face commits to animal-friendly down products
One of the world’s leading outdoor clothing and equipment brands, The North Face, has announced the decision to switch to more animal-friendly down production methods, following talks with international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS.
The company, which has stores across the UK, is one of a number of organisations that participated in a roundtable earlier in the year alongside FOUR PAWS and leading figures in the down and feather industry to discuss how improved traceability systems could help businesses ensure that cruel practices such as geese and duck force-feeding and live feather-plucking are eliminated throughout the entire process of developing their products.
© FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS' main improvements for a truly animal welfare-compliant standard in down production
FOUR PAWS welcomes the decision as a "step in the right direction", but notes that the ‘Responsible Down Standard’, which The North Face conceived and hopes to use as a guarantee of ethical down, still allows for hidden cruelty.
For FOUR PAWS, the main improvements necessary to make the ‘Responsible Down Standard’ truly animal welfare-compliant are as follows:
- The Standard should also include parent geese – which is currently not the case – as it is mostly the parents that are subjected to live feather plucking.
- Some farms practise ethical rearing alongside force feeding or live feather plucking; these farms should all be excluded from the Standard, even though The North Face only accepts the "ethical" down from these producers.
- Inspections of farms should always be unannounced. The "Responsible Down Standard" currently allows farms to be informed of an inspection 48 hours in advance.
FOUR PAWS in long-term discussions with down feather industry
In the last few years FOUR PAWS has been in intensive discussions with leading brands from the outdoor equipment industry. In January 2014, The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Jack Wolfskin and Vaude made a basic commitment to avoid using any down from ducks and geese subject to force feeding or live feather plucking.
The North Face now becomes the second company to develop a specific standard for their down products, after Patagonia. As well as their commitment to adopting the ‘Responsible Down Standard’ in all their products by 2017, The North Face also plans to certify all European down products as "responsible down" by autumn 2015. The ‘Responsible Down Standard’ was conceived with the help of the certification body The Textile Exchange. It is now also run by them and will be available for adoption by other interested companies.