9 Places Down Feathers May Be Hiding

Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to a bird’s skin. It’s sometimes used in various products, from bedding to gloves. Many geese and ducks used for down have their feathers yanked out of their skin while they’re still alive, sometimes so violently that they’re left with gaping wounds that workers then sew up using a needle and thread without any painkillers. Some of the birds even die as a result of the procedure.

When consumers purchase down products, they’re also supporting the cruel foie gras industry, because many farmers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers. During the winter months, everyone’s looking to warm up, but it’s important to avoid down in all its forms. If you’re ready to give the cruel down industry the cold shoulder, here’s a look at nine places where down may be hiding and how to avoid it:

1. Pillows

July 2012 China feather farm investigation. Geese with feathers plucked.

Down pillows may be branded “hypoallergenic,” but down products collect more dust than synthetic ones. Instead of down, opt for a pillow made from one of the many materials available that don’t harm animals, like cotton, foam, polyester, latex, and many others.

2. Comforters, Duvets, and Quilts

Colorful Photo of Plucked Down Geese On GrassCopyright Friedrich Mülln

There are many down-free options that will keep you just as warm without any of the suffering. If you’re looking to warm up, try synthetic or cotton electric blankets. Also, when booking hotels for the holidays, ask for down-free bedding when making a reservation and confirm this when checking in. When an increasing number of people are requesting down-free bedding, it may lead a hotel to order fewer down products in the future.

3. Mattress Covers

July 2012 China feather/down farm investigation. Goose being plucked

Some mattress covers include a thin cushioned layer that may be made of down, so be sure to read the label before purchasing. If you’re looking for a cushioned cover, look for memory foam instead, which is softer and usually made of polyurethane foam.

4. Sofas

Sad Plucked Geese with Raw Skin for DownCopyright Friedrich Mülln

Couches and sofas may have down lurking inside, especially in pillows. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s tag before making a purchase. If you’re in the market for stylish new seating, check out the vegan leather sofa options.

5. Winter Coats and Jackets

Winter coats and jackets may have down in the lining of the coat or in the hood, so make sure you check the tag. When shopping, don’t hesitate to let retailers know when you’re passing on an item because of the cruelty of its production. Thankfully, there are plenty of cozy vegan coats options for men and tons of comfy and cute options for women. When in doubt, check out our vegan shopping guide.

6. Sleeping bags

PETA 'Goose' at UK Pillow Fight Demo

Stay warm out in the wilderness with a synthetic sleeping bag. After all, who wants to end up with a bag of wet feathers? Even if you’re visiting family for the holidays and camping out on the floor, check that your sack is vegan.

7. Vests

Goose With Red, Raw Neck after Live-Plucking for Down Feathers© Friedrich Mülln

Before gifting someone (or treating yourself) with a trendy new vest for the holidays, check the label for down. Winter vests often contain down in the lining, but there’s no need to buy any product that caused an animal to suffer! If you’re unsure of where to find a vegan vest, take a peek at one of the stores listed in our vegan shopping guide.

8. Down Feather Dusters

Sad, Wounded, Plucked, Geese for DownCopyright Friedrich Mülln

What’s worse than cleaning the house before guests arrive for the holidays? Using cleaning products that cause animals pain. Never use cleaning products such as feather dusters that contain down or wool or that are tested on animals. If you’re in the mood to neaten up, use a synthetic duster and check out our list of humane household cleaners.

9. Gloves

Plucked Geese OutsideCopyright Friedrich Mülln

If you’re hitting the slopes this winter, avoid picking up down-filled gloves and those made with leather, fur trim, or wool. There are tons of vegan glove options available.

This winter, please don’t support the cruelty of the down industry. Instead, choose to purchase products that don’t hurt animals.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind