/ Ethical Down and unethical down

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Cuthbert on 03 Jan 2014
I was reading on another forum about the ways some companies source their down and how it is produced.

Leaving aside the merits of ethical down etc, can people say which companies are ethical and which aren't?

In my unethical list I have Rab, North Face, Patagonia.

Are ME and Alpkit on the the ethical side?
sas on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

Alpkit have a article on their site: http://www.alpkit.com/develop/down-sourcing-2014

"Do you use down in any of your products, down that has been removed from poultry by live plucking?
Probably not, but we can't be 100% sure. If you wanted to feel better we could send you a piece of paper from our suppliers saying 100% certified non-force fed and non-live plucked. But this doesn’t mean we can say hand on heart that someone somewhere is doing something they shouldn't. The supply chain is extremely complicated and despite any amount of audits, there are always loop holes in the system. The current auditing process makes it prohibitive for any brand, big or small to be 100% sure. The system is based on trust, we trust our manufacturer, they trust their down wholesaler, and the wholesaler trusts the farm."
alexm198 - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

ME have this 'Down Codex' thing on their latest down products which is a sort of down 'serial number' which allows you to trace the down inside the product to a certain place/farm etc, which was all part of a big drive towards ethically sourced down, as far as I know.
PPP - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

RAB seems to use ethical down:
"Rab said its fillings will also comply with the European Down and Feather Association codex on traceability. “This code of conduct determines the source of down, ensuring that the down is a by-product of a slaughterhouse or harvested during moulting periods and is not illegally live-plucked."
http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/08/21/rabs-adds-water-resistant-down-to-sleeping-bag-range


According to ME, they use ethically sourced down too:
"The down used in these bags is prime quality, ethically sourced,
93% pure Hungarian Goose Down. Each batch is individually
tested at point of filling the bags to ensure a minimum fill power
of 750 cubic inches"
http://www.mountain-equipment.co.uk/library/en/application/technical_xero.pdf
alexm198 - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

Also I'm interested to hear that Patagonia are on the unethical list, given their company ethos - do you have a source for that?
Tall Clare - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

This is from early last year, about Mountain Equipment's Down Codex (amongst other things): http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/news.php?id=5183
planetmarshall on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to sas:

Coleman have recently announced that they are dropping down altogether as they claim it is impossible to be 100% sure that it is ethically sourced. This article considers if this is generally the way the wind is blowing...

http://www.thegearcaster.com/the_gearcaster/2013/12/outdoor-brands-to-move-away-from-down.html
jopy - on 03 Jan 2014
ebygomm - on 03 Jan 2014
Cuthbert on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to alexm198:

No, I just heard it which is why I am asking the question. I don't actuallt have any down stuff myself apart from an old ME sleeping bag and I don't intend to buy any more.
Mr Fuller on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

You need to better define "ethical". What does that mean? Either a goose is killed and the down plucked from its burnt and possibly waxed carcass or the bird is plucked while live. It's a lot more complex than "ethical" and "not ethical". It is illegal to sell down plucked from live birds in the US and the EU and so all the brands you list are arguably as "ethical" as each other.

For what it matters, Patagonia head up the International Down Task Force (which I am a member of) which aims to promote good animal husbandry and stop any sort of live plucking. I'd put them in the same camp as ME and Alpkit ('good'). I've visited Rab's source factory and it's 'good' too. North Face are too clever to kid their customers because they know the business they'd lose if they were found to be being nasty to little birdies, so they're 'good' too.

HOWEVER, what happens when bird flu comes along and kills off all of China's birds, as it did a few years ago? Maybe the ethics go out the window and the Chinese suppliers tell no one...? The point I'm trying to make is that "ethical" needs to be well defined and it is a very complex issue.
Mountain Llama on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/traveltransport/sleepingbags.aspx

Link above gives various details for ethical issues for outdoor clothing and gear manufacture

andrewmcleod - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

The only definitely definitely definitely (probably) ethical down is the eiderdown hand-collected in Iceland etc from eider duck nests. Unsurprisingly this down is rather pricey...

But it does seem to be getting better to the point where I _might_ buy down clothing (as a vegetarian, not vegan, who buy vegetarian climbing shoes etc).
Marek - on 03 Jan 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:
> (In reply to Saor Alba)
>
> The only definitely definitely definitely (probably) ethical down is the eiderdown hand-collected in Iceland etc from eider duck nests.

What's ethical about depriving baby ducks of decent nest insulation? Especially in Iceland.

andrewmcleod - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Marek:
They only take a very small amount (something like 10g or 20g) per nest, once before the eggs and slightly more later or something similar? And replace it with straw.

Although it did occur to me that technically this down is live-plucked as well - although as it is done by the birds themselves it is probably OK :P

edit - http://www.stgeneve.com/quality_defines/filling/eiderdown.htm
Post edited at 12:37

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