In today’s post I thought I should address something very close to me: the purchasing and wearing of down feathers and fur. As I was walking down Yonge Street today, in between Lawrence and Eglinton, I noticed some posters (pictured below) put up by animal rights activists highlighting the injustice of wearing fur and down, and more specifically targeting Canada Goose. In years past, I’ve supported this company, buying three jackets, two hats, and a pair of gloves made by them. I refused to see what was right in front of me; or rather above my head and around my body. Their products were fashionable, and trendy among my friends. However, the truth is that fur and down will never be trendy.
Eighty per cent of duck and geese down (the feathers used to stuff jackets and comforters) is obtained from from China, and is generally obtained in one of two ways: live plucking or after slaughter. During the first method, birds are forced down by their necks or wings while their feathers, which they use to keep themselves warm, are pulled forcefully out of their bodies, often resulting in tears in their skin. These lacerations are then stitched up without sterilisation or anesthetic. This deadly process is repeated every six to seven weeks, allowing for new feathers to grow, before the animal’s inevitable slaughter. After slaughter, or post mortem, is another way that down feathers are obtained. Feathers are ripped out of the birds’ corpse, whose organs were used for foie gras (the fatty liver of force-fed birds eaten by humans). Whether your down is obtained through live plucking or plucking after death, it is a cruel and unsustainable process, that results in the death of millions of innocent birds.
There are many alternatives to down feathers that can be used in everything from pillows to mittens. Fibres from hemp or synthetic materials are both sustainable alternatives, that don’t result in the death of another being, and keep you just as warm during the cold months. Large brands such as Patagonia, The North Face, Marmot, Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer, and many more make sustainably sourced, cruelty free jackets that are sure to keep your body warm this winter. I am personally a fan of Patagonia’s Men’s Nano Puff Jacket, which I personally own. It is very warm and durable and is a similar (and less cruel) alternative to a down jacket.