Ruffling feathers responsibly

A number of international outdoor brands are the latest to sign up to a scheme aimed at ensuring humane treatment of birds used for down.

The non-profit organisation, the Responsible Down Standard, was set up to promote sustainability in the clothing industry, including the outdoor sector.

A joint venture by The North Face, Textile Exchange and Control Union Certificates worked with leading suppliers Allied Feather & Down, and developed the responsible down standard to ensure geese and ducks whose down is used are subject to humane treatment. This is in reaction to past criticism of welfare standards; including the use of force-feeding geese for foie gras production, and live plucking.

A spokesperson for The North Face said: “The goal of the RDS is to enable traceability and change the down industry as a whole, not just one brand’s supply chain. Certain brands have committed to introducing certified down into their products beginning as soon as autumn 2015, and The North Face, in particular, has committed to 100% certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017.”

Michael Bennett, MD at leading leisure PR and outdoor agency Pelican Communications, said: “It is good to see major brands taking environmental issues seriously, especially as the outdoor industry is intrinsically linked to and has a major stake in maintaining the great outdoors.”

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