What IS in Your Down Jacket?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | 5:32 pm

From fall 2014 forward, all Patagonia down products contain only 100% Traceable Down.

This means all of the down in all of our down products can be traced back to birds that were never force-fed and never live-plucked. The Traceable Down Standard provides the highest assurance of animal welfare in the apparel industry. We began working in 2007 to achieve this, and are the only brand to have done so.

Wanting to help improve animal welfare throughout the down industry, we’ve been sharing our work with down suppliers and other brands that also use down. Since 2013, when we introduced our first 100% Traceable Down products, we have presented our findings at conferences at the Outdoor Industry Association, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, and ISPO. We’ve also worked closely with Four Paws, an international animal welfare organization, whose campaign against the mistreatment of down-bearing birds first led us to examine our down supply chain. Four Paws has been quite supportive of our efforts to ensure animal welfare in our down supply chain. We continue to collaborate with them and other stakeholders to improve animal welfare industry-wide.

We’re often asked how we can ensure every bird is treated humanely. This can only be achieved by examining every single link in the down supply chain.

We start by auditing the parent farms, where birds are raised to produce eggs. This is where the highest risk for live-plucking occurs, as animals live here up to four years. Even though we don’t get our down from these birds, we feel obliged to look out for their welfare as they are an essential part of the down supply chain. This is what sets us apart from other brands also concerned about animal welfare.

The eggs produced at parent farms are transferred to other farms, where hatchlings are raised for their meat. We audit these farms to ensure sound animal welfare practices. Down is a byproduct of the food industry, and the down we buy comes exclusively from slaughterhouses. After the down is collected from geese that have been killed their meat, we follow it through washing, sorting and processing facilities to ensure proper traceability and segregation from untraceable down. We continue our audits all the way to the garment factory, where we make sure our down is kept apart from that of other brands, and used only in our clothing. It’s a lot of work. But this is how we ensure every bird whose down we use has been treated humanely.

From the moment we started this journey, we knew we needed an independent third-party to help us understand and verify sound animal welfare practices in our down supply chain. To that end, we partner with traceability experts at Arche Advisors.

Fall 2014 marked a proud milestone for us. The assurance of sound animal welfare inherent in our 100% Traceable Down is the result of thousands of hours of work from our executives, designers, material planners, sourcing department, suppliers and corporate social responsibility team. It was neither cheap nor easy, and we had to change our strategy and business operations to accomplish this. But building a product that helps you stay warm in good conscience is a legacy we are proud of.

As we move forward with our efforts to ensure animal welfare, we are partnering with NSF International to continue to evaluate our down supply chain. NSF is a nonprofit standards and certification organization that is helping us to move beyond verification to gain certification for 100% Traceable Down in fall 2015. We will also continue working with others in the down industry to move toward a single certification standard. In the short term, this includes working with Four Paws, the Outdoor Industry Association, European Outdoor Group and the German Sporting Goods Industry Association(Bundesverband der Deutschen Sportartikel-Industrie) to evaluate existing standards and with the Textile Exchange steering committee to help improve its responsible down standard.

Patagonia is located at 47 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena.  For more information, please call (626) 795-0319 or visit http://www.patagonia.com

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