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Suppliers to companies, such as Lands' End, are linked to the live plucking of geese.
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PETA US and PETA Asia visited farms across China to see firsthand how some of these feathers are obtained. Observers saw workers rip geese's feathers out – leaving open, bloody wounds – while the birds were fully conscious. Many struggled and cried out in terror and pain as their feathers were torn out of their skin, while others just froze, paralyzed with fear.
As the result of a murky international supply chain, products made with these cruelly obtained feathers and down could be ending up on UK shelves. Some suppliers certified to sell "responsibly sourced" down make assurances that they do not use live-plucked feathers. But can they ever be sure? Eighty per cent of the world's down and feathers used for items like jackets, sleeping bags and bedding come from China.
Why Is This Still Happening?
In 2012, PETA US released footage which showed that workers ripped live geese's feathers out, a process known as "live plucking". In the years that followed, companies faced a loss of confidence from consumers, so they came up with international standards claiming to ensure "responsible", "non live-plucked" down. But when observers recently got inside farms connected to certified and "responsible" down suppliers, they uncovered shocking cruelty.
To prevent the geese from fleeing during plucking, workers stepped on their delicate wings and necks and tightly bound their feet together. They even put them in chokeholds while ripping out their feathers and swung them by their wings. After they were plucked bare, the geese cried out as they ran back to their flocks. Many geese endure this torture multiple times before finally being slaughtered.
And that's not all: farms left sick and injured chicks, geese, and ducks to die a slow death. Dead birds were found decaying in crates and ponds or tossed outside like trash. A single goose produces just 60 grams of micro-feathers and down. One farm admitted to producing 15 tonnes of live-plucked down every year – that's 250,000 live pluckings per year.
Deception and Dishonesty
International certifications, including the Non Live-Plucked Products Guarantee and the Responsible Down Standard are advertised to assure consumers that down and feathers from live-plucked birds do not end up in certified products, yet they allow suppliers to buy and sell live-plucked feathers. And when PETA US and PETA Asia spoke with farmers and others who deal with these so-called "responsible" and "non live-pluck" suppliers, they admitted to buying and selling live-plucked down, and one buyer even bragged about misleading customers. "The plucking is done in secret; we're unwilling to pluck openly."
Companies understand that most consumers would never buy live-plucked down if it were openly labeled as such. One industry representative remarked, "[W]e advertised that it's all plucked after slaughter – nobody dares to buy it if you say it's live-plucked". Their solution? Hide and mislabel live-plucked down products so that people will buy it. A representative from the same facility admitted, "Most of the organisations say live-pluck is forbidden … So it's not open".
Products made with feathers and down from live-plucked birds are exported throughout the world to be sold to consumers who are unaware of the cruelty associated with this practice. As this investigation makes clear, even the purchase of products that use "responsibly sourced" down from certain suppliers indirectly supports live plucking. So if you're considering buying down bedding or a down jacket, sleeping bag or pillow, please remember the birds who need their feathers and choose an animal-free option instead.
Tell Lands' End to Ditch Down
There's no need for Lands' End to buy down from suppliers who support ripping out birds' feathers for jackets and duvets. Modern, high-tech fabrics are warmer, lighter and, of course, ethical.
Join us in urging Lands' End to stop selling down and switch to cruelty-free vegan products instead. Use the form below to send an e-mail to company executives.