Patagonia's Down Traceability

posted Apr 1, 2014, 2:40 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Apr 1, 2014, 1:07 PM ]

In recent years, there has been a constantly increasing request from consumers, especially in the food industry, to be able to “trace” the origin of raw materials and products. In the food industry, the traceability indicates the ability to trace the entire path of a food product, or of its components, through all stages of production, processing and distribution. This allows the authorities to control that everything happens according to the law and, most importantly, it provides consumers with important information enabling them to actually know and choose what they buy and consume. Whether for the purpose of checking food quality and health, or for environmental or for ethical issues, traceability is an extremely useful tool for consumers and it should become the norm for any kind of product. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to trace back the origins of most products.
Goose down is a highly requested material
, especially in the outdoor clothing industry, because of its great insulating capability, lightness, and compressibility, and, of course, because it's "natural". Nowadays, down is so widely used that every season, every single brand has at least one down garment in its catalog. But where do all these feathers come from? And more importantly, how are they collected?

The filling of our hot, down garments often comes from farms that adopt unorthodox breeding/plucking methods in order to sell more in less time. In most cases, the down comes from geese destined to the production of Foie Gras. Animals that are often forced-fed with artificial food, fortified with steroids, or genetically modified food, and that are forced to live in very small places, without natural light, and in unhealthy environments. Worse yet, the process of plucking is often performed on live animals.

Traceability provide us with important information that allows us to choose. You can choose to support (or not to support) products that are (or that are not) in line with your way of thinking or with your own ethics. A down jacket will certainly not end in our stomach, but would you ever choose a product made with feathers originating from brutally mistreated animals? Probably not.

Up until now, just a few people cared about this aspect of the production, maybe only a few animal rights groups, but fortunately things are changing. Patagonia, one of the most famous manufacturers of outdoor clothes, has been the first brand to stat caring more about the origin of the feathers used for its down garments. A process that began back in 2002, when Patagonia started to visit the farms, to analyze the food the animal were fed with, and their living conditions. Since a long time, Patagonia has been active in front line of environmental issues, striving to the utmost to minimize the environmental impact of its production processes: reducing energy waste, making extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials and supporting several projects for the preservation of the natural environment. The traceability of down is another great step forward towards a way of thinking and producing in a more conscious and certainly more ethical way. We believe that Patagonia will inspire many other companies to do the same.

When you shop, be aware in your choice! Next time you choose a down garment, you'll be able to use a new tool provided by Patagonia. For more info, you can check Patagonia's Footprint Chronicles.