Boston-based animal protection organization, FOUR PAWS International continues to work with The North Face to minimize animal suffering.
The North Face has announced that by 2017, it will switch to down feather production that is based upon humane standards. Earlier this year, The North Face announced, the "Responsible Down Standard" – a program intended to provide assurances that the ethical treatment of ducks and geese who are used in the production of down jackets and other outdoor gear.
"We're very happy to see the efforts that The North Face is making to strictly use humane standards in their future production", states Nina Jamal, FOUR PAWS representative in the discussions with the outdoor equipment companies. "However, and while the "Responsible Down Standard" has some strong animal welfare requirements, we can see weaknesses in the system whereby some force feeding and live feather plucking could still remain in the production process. We have some specific suggestions on how the "Responsible Down Standard" practices can be strengthened to further minimize animal suffering and are raising them within the ongoing multi-stakeholder RDS review process run by Textile Exchange, the standard owner. "
• 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 practice ethical rearing alongside of 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.
Over the last few years, FOUR PAWS has held extensive discussions with leading organizations within the outdoor clothing and equipment industry. In January 2014, The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Jack Wolfskin and Vaude committed to avoid using any down from ducks and geese who were subjected to force feeding or live feather plucking.
Along with Patagonia, The North Face is now the second down product manufacturing organization to announce a switch of its entire down product line to humane standards. The North Face will switch its production in stages, starting with 30 percent in fall 2015, 60 percent in 2016 and 100 percent by 2017.