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The North Face announces switch to animal-friendly down products by 2017


Outdoor brand The North Face has announced that by 2017 it will switch to down production that is free of animal suffering for its entire product range. FOUR PAWS sees this a “step in the right direction”, but notes that the “Responsible Down Standard”, still allows for hidden cruelty. FOUR PAWS therefore is calling on The North Face to improve the system in order to completely eliminate the cruel practices of force feeding and live feather plucking of ducks and geese in their supply chain.

FOUR PAWS claims for a stop of live plucking of geese and ducks as well as force feeding.

FOUR PAWS' main improvements for a truly animal welfare-compliant standard are as follows:

  • The Standard should also include parent geese – which is currently not the case – as it is mostly the parents that are subjected to live feather plucking.
  • Some farms practise ethical rearing alongside force feeding or live feather plucking; these farms should all be excluded from the Standard, even though The North Face only accepts the “clean” down from these producers.
  • Inspections of farms should always be unannounced. The “Responsible Down Standard” currently allows farms to be informed of an inspection 48 hours in advance.

FOUR PAWS on long-term discussions with down feather industry

The last few years have seen FOUR PAWS in intensive discussions with leading brands from the outdoor equipment industry. In January 2014, The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Jack Wolfskin and Vaude made a basic commitment to avoid using any down from ducks and geese subject to force feeding or live feather plucking. After Patagonia, The North Face is now the second company to develop a specific standard, with the entire down range being switched to production that is free of animal suffering by autumn 2017 at the latest. They also plan to certify all European The North Face down products as “Responsible Down” by autumn 2015. The “Responsible Down Standard” was conceived with the help of the certification body “The Textile Exchange”. It  is now also run by Textile Exchange and will be available for adoption by other interested firms. FOUR PAWS is involved in the ongoing “Responsible Down Standard” review process, and offers its input on the implementation of all solutions.