Responsible Down

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS)—which claims it “safeguards the welfare of geese,” actually allows RDS-certified companies to buy and sell live-plucked feathers. In short, the only truly “responsible down” is vegan. 


the Down industry 

What is down?

Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to a bird’s skin, used to trap air and keep birds warm. Baby birds are covered entirely in down and adults, especially waterfowl, may use their own down feathers to keep their eggs warm.

Down is often stolen in order to produce clothing and comforters, but for geese, the down industry’s methods are anything but comfortable. 

Live plucking

Undercover video footage shows employees on goose farms pulling fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in terror. The frightened animals are often squeezed upside down between workers’ knees during the painful procedure—in one instance, an investigator photographed a worker who was sitting on a goose’s neck in order to prevent her from escaping.

Live plucking causes birds considerable pain and distress. Once their feathers are ripped out, many of the birds, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping wounds—some even die as a result of the procedure. Workers often sew the birds’ skin back together without using any anesthetics.

Buying down supports foie gras

Buying down can also support the cruelty of the foie gras and meat industries because many farmers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers as well. At the slaughterhouse, many of these birds are improperly stunned, which means that they are still conscious when their throats are cut and they are dumped into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank.

‘Responsible DOwn’ is a myth

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) claims to ensure that down and feathers come from birds who have not been subjected to any “unnecessary harm,” but stealing these things from them is always unnecessary and harmful.

PETA Asia’s investigation into RDS-certified farms in Russia revealed that workers violently restrained geese and painfully suspended them by their wings before stretching their necks across a stump and hacking away multiple times with a dull axe. The investigator filmed a worker hacking at one goose’s neck seven times before managing to decapitate the bird—all while the animal shrieked in pain and fear. 

RDS-certified farms have even admitted to buying and selling live-plucked down. One buyer even bragged to a PETA investigator about misleading customers, and an industry representative remarked, “We advertised that it’s all plucked after slaughter—nobody dares to buy it if you say it’s live-plucked.” 

Warm & Sustainable Down alternatives

Feather-Free Pillows & Comforters


Toasty & Stylish Winter Jackets


What humane Long Island is doing to help

Speaking out on the streets and in the press

If you spot a d

Teaching reverence for geese

If you spot a d

Appearing in Films

Humane Long Island directors John and Juliana appeared in the documentary Ending Real Fur protesting luxury retailer Canada Goose’s use of fur and down; while Juliana was credited in the 2021 documentary The Face of Fashion is Fear—where she appeared body-painted as victim of the cruel down feather industry. 

Promoting humane, feather-free Alternatives


Wuxly | Made in Canada Winter Parkas

John Di Leonardo, Humane Long Island’s executive director, hugs Junoa goose rescued from an illegal backyard butcher operation—wearing his warm Wuxly parka and knit hat on a cold winter day.