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PETA to H&M: Tell Everyone the ‘Slaughter Methods Used to Procure Down’

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is once again demanding H&M ditch down.  

Ahead of the Swedish fast-fashion retailer’s annual meeting on Thursday, the animal welfare organization said that giant “ducks” alongside PETA supporters and members of local animal welfare groups Animal Save Sweden and Direct Action Everywhere Stockholm will “descend” on Karolinska Institutet, where the event will be held, demanding that H&M stop selling products made with feathers. A PETA representative will also attend the meeting to speak in support of a shareholder resolution calling on H&M Group’s board of directors “to prepare a report on the slaughter methods used to procure down for the company.”

H&M is alienating progressive shoppers with its ‘humane washing,’ as every down item represents the pain and suffering of terrified birds,” Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president, said. “PETA is urging H&M to help end this cruelty by banning down and sticking to animal-friendly materials, such as those it already sells and that its shoppers love.”

This resolution will point out that H&M relies on the Textile Exchange’s “demonstrably ineffective” Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to make claims about animal welfare. The retailer recently stopped using the RDS label—a move that acknowledges the RDS is a “sham,” according to PETA. The animal-rights group also alleged that H&M doesn’t provide any information regarding the farms and slaughterhouses that supply down for its products, though its Sustainability Disclosure 2022 reported that 100 percent of its virgin down was RDS compliant, maintaining its requirement of only sourcing from RDS-certified farms since 2016. The report attributes H&M’s mohair ban in mid-2018 to a PETA investigation.

“H&M states that no animals should be harmed for its clothes, so it should take the chance to investigate its supply chain to ensure just that,” Mimi Bekhechi, PETA’s vice president for Europe, the UK and Australia, said. “Every down item represents the pain and suffering of terrified birds, and deceptive labels and certifications do nothing except keep consumers in the dark while animals continue to suffer.”

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The anti-H&M action follows a PETA Asia investigation into Vina Prauden, a Vietnamese company that has allegedly supplied down to the Swedish company, though an H&M representative previously told Sourcing Journal that it has no direct connection to the supplier. PETA investigators found that ducks suffer from gaping wounds in dirty sheds and are stabbed in the neck while conscious. It also follows previous pressures on H&M to come clean about how it sources down feathers.

A quick site search reveals that H&M currently sells 22 items linked to the keyword “feathers,” including down puffer jackets and feather-filled cushions. But the retailer is no stranger to down alternatives; in 2021, it launched “Co-exist Story,” a vegan collection that got a stamp of approval from PETA, that featured puffer pieces filled with wildflowers and recycled polyamide.  

“H&M Group has a long-standing commitment to improving animal welfare across our global supply chain. Animal welfare is very important to us and no animals should be harmed in the making of our products,” a spokesperson for H&M told Sourcing Journal. “We welcome PETA’s commitment and their work to uncover unacceptable breaches in our industry, which ultimately helps to improve industry standards and practices on animal welfare.”

At H&M’s general meeting last year, shareholder Fair Action urged the board to prioritize workers in the supply chain. The meeting voted against the proposal. And shareholder Fondazione Finanza Etica asked the retailer to report on sustainably sourced and organically produced cotton and asked how H&M prevents indirect purchasing of goods made with forced labor. The meeting voted against both proposals.