You know that animal rights issues are becoming more well-known when you read folks asking advice columnists about ethical problems related to buying down comforters.
The problem with products that come from animals is that they can be generally deceiving. The general perception is that “the animal wasn’t killed for it’s feathers/eggs/milk/honey etc.,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. These products are still intertwined with the factory farming industries, it just isn’t as apparent. Such is the case with duck and goose down.
Goose and ducks used for down production are plucked alive – four to five times in their short lives. The birds legs are tied over their backs, or held between the legs of the “Ripper,” the person who removes the feathers. The birds are scared, struggle and sometimes strain their muscles and/or break limbs trying to get away. One large producer of down, Hungary, estimates that 50% of the down it exports contains 40% – 45% live-plucked feathers. That’s a lot of cruelty.
Did you know that geese normally live in small family units? They also mate for life- something even many humans have a hard time doing. The average life span of a goose is 20 years, although “commercially produced” geese will live just 4 – 5 years.
But back to the question at hand- rather the answer at hand. The columnist Umbra offered up some advice for our questioning compassionate by saying:
“It would be nice to think there’s just a flock of quiet farmers who wait patiently for the down to fall out on its own. However, here’s the real deal, according to the USDA: When the birds are slaughtered, they are first stunned electrically. After their throats are cut and the birds are bled, they are scalded to facilitate removal of large feathers. To remove fine pinfeathers, the birds are dipped in paraffin wax. Down and feathers are then sorted. Gosh, that doesn’t sound comfy at all.”
Nope, she’s right. Sure as hell doesn’t, does it?
(PS. Umbra – there is no such thing as “humanely harvested wool.” Treating an animal better before taking away their life is not humane. And with so many great alternatives (such as- doubling up on blankets), there’s no need to use animals any further.)
additional information via USDA