Paddy Pallin and the Pallin family have had a long appreciation and love for the environment with the Paddy Pallin Foundation set up to protect and enhance the Australian environment. As one of Australia’s most trusted providers of outdoor clothing and equipment Paddy Pallin takes great interest in the impact of manufacturing has on the environment as well as the humane treatment of the animals that provide the materials for the clothing we use. With this in mind Paddy Pallin looks to stock brands that share the same ideals as we and our customers do. In this post we will be looking at how the down brands Paddy Pallin stock assure sound animal welfare.

In the past we have discussed the Pros & Cons of Down and Synthetic filled jackets which caused some healthy debate and questioning on the humane treatment of the animals that provide the down. In this post we will probe deeper into the down industry and learn how efforts are being made to source down from humane sources.

Down and where it is sourced has always been an issue of much contention with many outdoor brands using down feathers from geese or ducks in clothing and sleeping bags. A high majority of this down is sourced from birds that are kept for meat production and are seen as a valuable by-product by farmers. While most of the outdoor brands state that they do not accept down from live-plucked or force-fed animals – evidence to back these claims is often missing.

Providing visibility into the down supply chain and ensuring traceability is a complex process with many challenges, not the least of which is that the outdoor industry is a small fish in a very large pond: the outdoor industry is estimated to use just 1 percent of the total global down supply.

In 2007 Patagonia ran an environmental impact assessment of the materials they use and found that the global poultry industry (not limited to geese) had a record of inhumane treatment of birds, which are raised for their meat. This includes such things as caging, de-beaking, force-feeding and on the environmental side, polluting air and water. Patagonia also learned that some of their down is taken from geese after they’ve been killed for their meat, and some is taken from live geese during their molting period (live-plucking).

Armed with this information Patagonia has been working helping to improve animal welfare throughout the down industry. From the Australian Spring 2014 forward, all Patagonia down products contain only 100% Traceable Down. This means all of the down in all of their down products can be traced back to birds that were never force-fed and never live-plucked. The Traceable Down Standard provides the highest assurance of animal welfare in the apparel industry. They began working in 2007 to achieve this and where the 1st brand to have done so.

Four Paws, is an independent animal welfare group based in Austria that called on outdoor companies to provide the highest possible guarantees that the cruel practices of live-plucking and force-feeding are truly voided. As pointed out above major brands, namely Patagonia and also The North Face have developed their own animal welfare traceability standards which they are offering to other brands and members of the supply chain. Both Patagonia’s Traceable Down Standard (already 100% traceable) and The North Face’s Responsible Down Standards (with the goal of a 100% traceability by 2017) trace the full supply chain and include some of the key safeguards on animal welfare. Four Paws has acknowledged that this as an encouraging step for the down industry and that it has driven the biggest down suppliers (washing facilities) to trace down back to the farms they get down from. In addition, the fact that these standards have been adopted by other members of the Outdoor Industry Association (Arc’teryxMarmot, Rab, Sea To Summit and Western Mountaineering) means that more brands are taking responsibility and paying close attention to their supply chains.

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Mont enlist a down supplier who is certified by the China Feather & Down Industrial Association (CFDIA) and signed up to CFDIA Non Live-Plucked Products Guarantee. This guarantee is a refusal to produce, process or sell live-plucked down or feathers, and an assurance that all goods originate from the food industry.

The CFDIA down supplier sources down from appropriate poultry farms, cleans it, tests it, and grades it. Before any down is sent to Mont’s factories, it is independently tested for purity and quality by the International Down and Feather Laboratory (IDFL).

Mont is committed to producing and supplying cruelty free down products.

Paddy Pallin will be sure to provide you with further updates on the Outdoor Industries down journey on the Paddy Pallin blog and please let us know what you think about the industries work so far.

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Photo: Evrard Wendenbaum/Patagonia

 

About The Author

Dave Casey

Dave has worked as an International Expedition Leader and in Outdoor Education for over 15 years. He has extensive travel and guiding experience in Australia, NZ, Asia, South/North America and Europe. In his spare time Dave is a keen bushwalker, mountain biker and climber while also dabbling in some mountaineering and sea kayaking. He is currently working at Paddys as the National Account Manager, to fund all of the above.

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