The group recently released an investigative—and graphic—video revealing live geese at factories in China having their feathers plucked, leaving them with open sores. PETA then alleged that these factories are selling their feathers to companies claiming to source solely responsible down.
“International certifications, including the ‘Non Live-Plucked Products Guarantee’ and the ‘Responsible Down Standard’ (RDS) are advertised to assure consumers that down and feathers from live-plucked birds do not end up in products,” PETA said. “But when investigators spoke with suppliers for these so-called ‘responsible’ and ‘non live-pluck’ companies, they admitted to buying and selling live-plucked down, and one buyer even bragged about misleading customers.”
The goal of the RDS is to ensure that feathers come from ducks and geese that have been treated well—certainly not live plucked—and to trace down from farm to product so that retailers can be confident they’ve sourced responsible down. Companies using 100 percent responsible down can then apply for certification under the standard.
In PETA’s video, one factory owner tells the group there is no way of knowing, from the look of the down, whether it was the result of live plucking. One unnamed industry representative said, “We advertised that it’s all plucked after slaughter—nobody dares to buy it if you say it’s live-plucked.”
The activist group called out Eddie Bauer, Hollander Sleep Products and Land’s End for sourcing live-plucked down.
Textile Exchange, a global sustainability focused non-profit that developed the RDS, issued a response to PETA’s video discounting the allegations.
“Like PETA, we are horrified by the practice of live plucking. It’s important to understand PETA has not established a link between live plucking and RDS certified products,” Textile Exchange said. “The footage of the shocking practices found in China was not recorded at farms certified to the Standard. As soon as we became aware of PETA’s investigation, we spoke with our certification bodies and certified suppliers in this region, and we have confirmation that no down from the PETA-investigated sites could have been sold as certified RDS down.”
Textile Exchange said the standard has already had a significant impact on the lives of geese and ducks around the world and expressed concern that linking the RDS to live plucking could set back the progress it has made in the four years since the standard was developed.
“We continue to evolve the Responsible Down Standard, which remains the strongest way to ensure down has not come from live-plucked birds,” Textile Exchange said.