Bad news for those who enjoy staying warm during the winter: the seemingly innocuous down coat has recently been outed as the result of animal cruelty. Salon reports that the process of "live plucking", in which a goose's feathers are plucked while the animal is alive and conscious, produces up to 80 percent of the down used to insulate each coat.
The process of live plucking is exactly as awful as it sounds; live geese are tethered and subsequently endure the forcible removal of their feathers. Those responsible for live plucking reportedly focus more on efficiency and the quantity of feathers produced as opposed to the comfort of the animal, resulting in a number of wounds and fatalities to the geese.
In response to the publication of this new information regarding animal treatment, a number of companies that use down in their products are taking steps to eliminate such detrimental practices and find alternative solutions, including Patagonia and Ikea, but the issue is still far from resolution.
With unsettling new information regarding the preparation of our favorite foods, fashions, and footwear surfacing daily, the selection of cruelty-free products is becoming ever slimmer. Despite the efforts of clothing companies to remediate animal cruelty including live plucking, the onus is on down importers and the down harvesters to fix the problem at its source.