An Open Letter to REI Employees About Duck and Goose Down

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3 min read

PETA has been contacted by REI employees who share our concern about the company’s sale of goose and duck down. We know that the people in leadership positions at REI have shared their thoughts with you about down. We want you to know why we are urging the company to stop selling down and also hope that you will encourage your employer to do what’s right.

The down that is stuffed into jackets, sleeping bags, and other insulated products often comes from birds who are plucked alive, meaning that they are pinned down while hurried workers yank fistfuls of feathers from their delicate bodies. Other birds used for down have been violently force-fed, a process in which workers shove tubes down birds’ throats and pump their stomachs full of grain in order to greatly enlarge and fatten their livers for foie gras. Birds who survive the live-plucking or force-feeding are eventually all killed violently and painfully—some are even scalded to death while still conscious. Please watch and share our video exposé, and I’m sure that you’ll understand our concerns.

Outdoor enthusiasts desire insulated products that are lofty, packable, affordable, and comfortable, with a high warmth-to-weight ratio. Synthetics—available in today’s modern, technologically advanced world—exemplify those characteristics and, in fact, outperform down on many fronts. They retain their insulating capability when wet (unlike down, which becomes useless when wet), are allergen-free, and, of course, don’t cause birds a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering.

PETA appreciates REI’s attention to the cruelty issues associated with down production. However, even though REI’s approach to this issue (adopting a policy prohibiting live-plucking and force-feeding) may sound reasonable, any such policy will go unenforced because there is simply no traceability in the down supply chain. Attempting to work with down suppliers to trace the supply chain is not a solution. Down suppliers have an undeniable history of misleading their customers and telling them what they want to hear. Undercover investigations have proved that these suppliers are, in fact, engaging in unethical and cruel practices, such as live-plucking and force-feeding. REI knows this but continues to sell the products anyway.

In addition to the false assurances given by down suppliers, the down supply chain is complicated. There are several intermediaries in the buying process, so attempting to trace the chain is nearly impossible. Plus, the feathers from birds who have been live-plucked get mixed in with feathers from foie gras farms and slaughterhouses, so you never really know which down you are buying. An added complication is that you cannot tell by looking at a feather how the bird it came from was treated. And one thing we know for certain is that all the birds used by the down industry are killed in a violent, painful way, no matter how they were raised.

A commitment to providing down products from animals who have been treated in an ethical, humane manner is meaningless because there is simply no way to source humanely produced down. Because of the cruelty inherent in the down industry and the ready availability of a wide array of innovative synthetics, there is no reason for REI to sell any down at all. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss this. Thank you.


Tracy Reiman Signature

Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President
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