Does your down make geese frown? #YourTurnChallenge

Have you ever really thought about where the down inside your down winter jacket or bedding came from? The folks at outdoor retailer Patagonia sure have, and the reality is pretty sad.

In short, there are a number of problems associated with conventional down. Since down is actually just a byproduct of the food industry (geese are not bred specifically for down), geese may be force-fed (especially if for foie gras), live-plucked (which is very distressing) and transported in horrible conditions.

Concerned about its own supply chain, Patagonia, in partnership with international organizations like NSF International, developed a Global Traceable Down Standard to ensure the highest levels of animal welfare throughout the down supply chain.

The following animated video might be a bit disturbing to you, but it does a good job of telling this story.

As of fall 2014, all of Patagonia’s down meets this 100% Traceable Down Standard. The North Face brand currently has a different standard, The Responsible Down Standard, and plans to have all of its down be 100% RDS certified by 2017. While some believe the Global Traceable Down Standard is stronger overall, The Responsible Down Standard has strengths as well, and the competition between the two is making both standards strive for even more improvements.

Other outdoor retailers like Eddie Bauer are moving in the right direction by at least signing on to the Responsible Down Standard (note: not the Traceable Down Standard). However, the outdoor industry only uses 1 PERCENT of commercial down. While these efforts do add up, in order to make the largest impact, the bedding industry will also need to step up to the plate. So, next time you’re looking to buy a down sleeping bag or comforter, don’t forget to look for either of these certifications!

Personally, I bought my first down jacket from The North Face when I moved to Michigan, a few weeks before learning about the Global Traceable Down Standard. Had I known about this and that Patagonia’s standard is generally considered better, I probably would have opted for Patagonia. But, since I already have a North Face, I’ll be keeping it, and feeling pretty content knowing it is at least the second-best option.

This post is for Day 5 of Seth Godin’s #YourTurnChallenge


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