What is the Problem with Down?
Sadly, thousands of geese and ducks are often plucked alive for their down feathers, which are the feathers closest to a bird’s skin. ‘Live plucking’ can result in bleeding and the tearing of skin, which can lead to pain, suffering and stress to the birds.
Down is in very high demand in the textile market, and is used as a thermal insulator in duvets and pillows, as well as coats and other clothing items. The largest producer of down is China, which accounts for approximately 80% of global production.
FOUR PAWS UK's '40 Lives' Campaign
Four Paws UK’s ’40 Lives’ campaign aimed to get as many UK bedding retailers to commit to using cruelty free feather and down in their bedding products, committing where appropriate to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). This would be achieved through the creation of a publicly available ranking website for the retailers.
But, We Won Thanks to You!
The following retailers eventually committed to higher traceability:
Before the campaign launched, John Lewis, Next and Dunelm committed to higher traceability
Then, Trendsetter and John Cotton agreed to improve their traceability following pressure from FP.
On the day of the launch, House of Fraser also told FP that they were modifying their Code of Practice to improve their traceability of feather and down.
FP met with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) who represents many retailers in the UK, who told us they would help us spread the word and receive more commitment from retailers in the UK.
New champions were added in early 2017: Selfridges, The White Company and Debenhams.
Manufacturers and suppliers were also contacting us directly to work with us. FP was invited to attend a constructive meetings with John Lewis & Dunelm, their suppliers and EDFA placing Four Paws as the specialist in this area.
Debenhams committed just one week before the FP offline action which was going to target them - the pressure worked!
We only had one store left to target as all the others had now committed to higher traceability. We did a “goose march” action in front of TK Maxx which had a great response from members of the public, but sadly TK Maxx did not respond.
Blood Feather Award – presented to TK Maxx at their head office by FP.
After receiving the Blood Feather Award, TK Maxx finally met with FOUR PAWS. Following discussions, the company expressed its commitment to pursuing a policy of no live plucking or force feeding and requiring the implementation of the strictest available safeguards from their suppliers and brands. SUCCESS!
How Can You Help?
- Avoiding buying products which contain down, and look for animal-friendly alternatives
- If you do buy a product which contains down, look for the ‘Responsible Down Standard’ – this means that their standards must be publicly available and participating farms must be subject to regular audits to ensure animal welfare is not compromised.