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7 Reasons That Responsible Down Standard Down is the Humane Choice

If you haven’t already heard about the Responsible Down Standard, you’ll want to pay close attention: this certification is changing the down industry in a major way.

Down has a ton of awesome properties, including its ability to provide warmth without being heavy or bulky. But until recently, the industry was not well regulated. Some organizations within the down supply chain sourced down using inhumane practices—yet it was very difficult for manufacturers to trace where their down was coming from, even if they wanted to use cruelty-free down. Retailers and consumers were frustrated, too: they liked down products, but didn’t want to support an industry that used cruel practices.

With the introduction of Textile Exchange’s Responsible Down Standard, the down industry has become a much more transparent place. Companies that are RDS certified—like DownLinens—now have confidence that their down has been sourced ethically and humanely from start to finish. That means that every step of the down process is traced, from the moment the bird hatches to the first time you use your DownLinens comforter.

Responsible Down Standard certified organizations agree to submit to an annual audit, plus any number of unannounced audits that can take place throughout the year. In order to earn and retain Responsible Down Standard certification, these organizations must abide by certain requirements. In addition to these requirements, auditors also provide recommendations to ensure that the organization is using the best practices within the industry. These 7 Responsible Down Standard certification requirements are what make RDS-certified down the humane choice.

Force-Feeding Is Prohibited
Maybe you’ve heard of the nasty practices used to make foie gras – they involve force feeding geese, often using mechanical equipment. The process is nasty and inhumane, and down and feathers from these birds are sometimes used for down products. Waterfowl used for RDS down cannot be fed any more than the bird wants or needs—force feeding is absolutely prohibited.

Live-Plucking Is Prohibited
Another cruel practice that has been used in down production is the live-plucking of waterfowl, which is exactly what is sounds like. You can probably imagine that this is incredible stressful and painful for the bird—sometimes, open wounds from the plucking are even stitched up without anesthetics. RDS-certified down cannot be removed while the animal is alive.

Birds Must Be Properly Watered and Fed
While the birds are alive, Responsible Down Standards require them to have access to plenty of water and food, allowing them to meet their nutritional needs. This access has to come easily—birds should not have to compete with one another to get food or water.

Proper Environments Must Be Maintained
RDS requires birds to have plenty of space to move around. Enclosed areas should have natural lighting, be well-ventilated, and have solid, well-drained floors. Birds should have free access to the outdoors, including areas that are consistently dry. The birds’ environment should be kept clean.

Birds Must Be Kept in Good Health
RDS certification requires that a veterinarian checks up on the waterfowl at least once per season. If a bird is sick or injured, it needs to be treated immediately with the goal of minimizing pain and distress.

Proper Handling Is a Must
Anyone who handles the waterfowl must be properly trained, and they cannot physically alter the birds in any way. That means that birds must always be handled humanely: no declawing, hole punching, wing clipping, feather trimming, castrating, bill trimming, or debeaking—all of which have been known to take place in the down industry.

Mandatory Traceability
No matter where an organization lies in the supply chain, it must provide proper documentation to prove that the down has been acquired from an RDS-certified supplier. RDS-certified down cannot be mixed with regular down. Transparency is non-negotiable.

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