Society has grown accustomed to using animal products without continuously challenging its purpose. Remarkably so, because it is obvious that, as a species, we humans are innovative enough to find alternatives when it makes sense economically. To name some of the reasons for our disincentive to change; Business processes and entire companies are locked into industry process standards and are optimizing for shareholder value instead of maximizing stakeholder or societal value. A general lack of awareness around animal cruelty, misinformation and sometimes even purposeful disinformation with respect to animal conditions, or production conditions in general, leaves us with a growing blindspot for what is really going on. The only genuine solutions are viable alternatives and real substitutes. Substitutes that are competitive from a price, style, quality and performance perspective and at the same time outcompete the original materials from an ethical viewpoint.
“Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds’ skin, predominantly in the chest region. Primarily duck and goose feathers are used to fill baffles in ‘puffer’ coats. These feathers are highly valued by manufacturers of down clothing and comforters because they do not have quills. While most down and other feathers are removed from ducks and geese during slaughter, birds in breeding flocks and those raised for meat may be plucked repeatedly while they are still alive. Plucking causes geese and ducks considerable pain and distress. Typically, they are lifted by their necks or delicate wings, their legs are physically restrained or tied, and their feathers are ripped right out of their skin. The struggling birds are often plucked so hard that their skin is torn open and the hurried workers sew up the wounds using needle and thread and no painkillers. Plucking may begin when the animals are just 10 weeks old and be repeated in six-week intervals until the birds are slaughtered for meat long before they would naturally die” – visit Peta for more information on animal cruelty in the down indsutry: Peta.org – warning, graphic content!
Maium uses padding made from recycled plastic to fill baffles for Puffer Jackets. Recycled plastic in this fibre fill form has much of the same qualities as down. Warmth, price and baffle distribution of plastic all have similar attributes, but more importantly, they are produced without any animal suffering. If you do decide to go for a down jacket, look for NSF International and the Responsible Down Standard certificates to help ensure the birds that supply it are not force-fed or live-plucked.
However, the safest alternative is always to go VEGAN!