- Where do down and feathers come from?
Down and feathers are a natural by-product of the enormous and highly-regulated global poultry industry. The ducks and geese from which down and feathers are procured have been farmed or raised for food, not their feathers. As such, down and feathers come from countries where ducks and geese are a dietary staple — the largest of which is China.
- What is the difference between down and feathers?
Down is the light fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of waterfowl that protect them from the elements. Down is the world’s most efficient natural insulator and can be found on the belly of waterfowl to keep them warm. Down is composed of thousands of individual fibers formed together in a three dimensional cluster which contains no quill.
Feathers are from the plumage of waterfowl and do contain quills. They are two-dimensional and provide insulation and support to down and feather products.
- How are down and feather products sanitized?
Down and feather products must be washed and processed for use in bedding, apparel, and outdoor gear. To be sanitized they are thoroughly washed and rinsed to remove the dirt, oil, and bacteria. Before being added into their end product, they are dried at a high temperature and separated based on quality. When being shipped between countries, all down and feather product must be meet the sanitation requirements of the country they are entering.
- What are down and feather products used for?
Down and feathers are nature’s best insulator, providing incredible warmth, without weight, to help regulate body heat. Used in bedding, apparel and outdoor gear, down and feather products are long lasting, so the insulating ability of these products will not diminish.
- Why should I choose a down and feather product?
Down and feather bedding is an environmentally friendly alternative to oil-based synthetic materials; the down and feathers used in bedding, apparel, and outdoor gear are biodegradable. Down also provides the best insulation available, offering warmth without the weight of some other materials. It’s breathable, durable and resilient quality allow down and feather products to last for many years.
- What is the best way to store down and feather products?
When not in use, down and feather blankets, outdoor equipment, and apparel should be kept in a breathable storage area. A breathable bag or container will allow your down or feather product to better retain all the natural attributes that provide you an exceptional sleep experience. Make sure your items are stored in a dry place that has fairly constant temperature. Be wary of heated places, as heat can evaporate the natural oils in down. A breathable cotton bag or sack is an optimal storage location.
- What elements are harmful to down and feather products?
Moisture is down’s biggest enemy. Try your best to keep your down products dry and away from moist surfaces and atmospheres. This will keep the down from clumping and will make it last as long as possible. Natural oils from your body and outside sources can also be harmful to your down products. We recommend putting a duvet cover, pillow case, or bed protector on all down bedding so the product is not exposed to oils from your skin while you sleep.
- What makes down and feather products sustainable?
More than a byproduct, down and feathers are also a waste product of the food industry and would otherwise end up in our world’s landfills. By cleaning and sanitizing down and feathers to be used in bedding, clothing and outdoor gear, these products help to reduce the amount of agricultural waste and contribute to the overall sustainability of our world.
- Why are down and feather products more sustainable than synthetic materials?
Since down and feather products derive from nature, they are environmentally sensitive, with the manufacturing process leaving a lower carbon footprint than that of synthetic materials. In comparison, synthetic materials are often made from non-renewable resources like oil, whereas down and feathers are biodegradable, decomposing back into the earth.
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- Are there laws that protect animal welfare in the down and feather industry?
Animal welfare laws exist in the food and agriculture industry, and many producers and suppliers of down and feather sign pledges to abide by these rules in order to become members of industry organizations. Although animal welfare laws differ worldwide, the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB) and its members — which include the American Down and Feather Council (ADFC), the China Feather and Down Industry Association (CDFIA) and other country trade associations across Europe, as well as individual companies from around the globe — neither support nor condone the illegal harvesting of feathers and down from live birds.
- Do inhumane practices of procuring down and feather exist?
Inhumane practices of procuring down and feather from live birds are forbidden by law. Countries within the European Union are permitted to harvest down and feather from live birds during molting season, under clearly defined legal stipulations. Molting is the period of time in which a bird naturally changes its feathers; during this period, the molting of geese allows for down and feathers to be gathered after they have fallen off the geese, or for the geese to be gently brushed or combed to remove loose down and feathers. This harvesting process is governed by a number of provisions, including the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes. According to this standard, harvesting feathers absolutely may not take place outside of the molting season.
- What does the industry do to ensure these humane practices are followed?
As previously mentioned, industry members sign pledges to ensure that humane practices for procuring down and feathers are adhered to. Additionally, companies throughout the industry independently monitor their supply chains – and engage independent auditors, as well – to make sure humane practices are followed. There are several auditing agencies across the world work on behalf of the down and feather industry to conduct these audits.
Audit work includes all parts of the down and feather supply chain, including farms and other raw material sources; slaughterhouses; synthetic fiber processors; down and feather processors; and finished product sewing factories. The efforts by producers and buyers to document this supply chain have yielded very positive information about the ethical sourcing of down and feathers.
Since documentation of the down and feather supply chain has started, it has been confirmed that the so-called practice of live plucking of ducks and geese is far from prevalent—in fact, it is estimated that the practice is so rare that it represents less than one percent of the industry.