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REI, adidas, Timberland and More Commit to Sourcing Down Responsibly

Image credit: WeiKu

Six more global brands have committed to the Textile Exchange’s Responsible Down Standard (RDS). The adidas Group, Black Diamond, Kathmandu, NAU, REI and Timberland have agreed to bring certified, responsible down to the marketplace. They join a robust list of supporters including The North Face — which worked with the Textile Exchange to develop the standard — Down & Feather Co., DownLinens, Eddie Bauer, H&M, Helly Hansen, Mammut, Marmot, and Outdoor Research.

The North Face says the RDS is the most comprehensive global, third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard for down and feathers (though fellow outdoor apparel company Patagonia, which released its own, separate Global Traceable Down Standard earlier this month, may beg to differ) and is available for use by any company. Released in January 2014, the RDS is now working with more than 350 farms that are raising more than 100 million birds.

“The many brands and companies that have signed on to RDS deserve credit for their commitment. I’m proud of the scale that we have achieved with the RDS, and the incredible energy that our International Working Group has put into the revision,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity at the Textile Exchange. “We anticipate further strong growth, particularly as we move into the home and bedding markets. Our goal is to protect the welfare of as many ducks and geese as possible.”

Since taking over RDS from The North Face, Textile Exchange has driven an open revision process to bring in broad stakeholder input. RDS 2.0 was released on Monday for public comment after working closely with brands, suppliers, industry organizations and animal welfare groups such as Humane Society International. The revised standard includes an optional Parent Farm module for companies looking to go beyond the direct sources of their down, eliminates any parallel production of certified and non-certified waterfowl at the farm level, further strengthens the animal welfare criteria and auditing requirements and increases the strictness of product labeling by only allowing labeling of 100 percent RDS products.

Down remains one of the highest-quality, best-performing materials for use in apparel, bedding and home goods. Down and feathers are sourced from geese and ducks already being raised for food, so there are inevitable risks of animal welfare issues with the use of farm animals for industrial purposes. RDS’ chief concern is preventing harmful practices like force-feeding and live-plucking. They also mandate strict regulations on food and water quality, housing, outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, all supported with traceability through to the final product. 

"The first year of the RDS was a tremendous success and we are proud to have contributed to the improvement of the lives of so many animals in the down supply chain,” said Adam Mott, The North Face's Director of Sustainability. “We are excited to see such rapid adoption of the standard through the commitment of brands and suppliers inside and outside of our industry. The update of the RDS will strengthen an already effective, successful standard and we commend Textile Exchange for their tireless work in leading the way."

Textile Exchange owns a number of additional standards including the Organic Content Standard, the Recycled Claim Standard, the Global Recycled Standard and the Content Claim Standard.

Caitlin Kauffman is Sustainable Brands' acting Editorial Assistant. She recieved her Bachelor's in International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies from CU Boulder. She has written for several publications including Sierra Magazine and O.A.R.S. As a women's health educator she… [Read more about Caitlin Kauffman]

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