Reasons Why You Should Never Buy Feather Accessories

Right: © Kennedy-Olsen
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This piece was adapted from peta2.

Have you ever wondered where feather accessories, and items such as boas and dusters come from?

Feathers aren’t obtained humanely from animals. They likely came from terrified birds who were killed for their flesh or skin.

Just like buying items made with down, purchasing ones made with feathers supports the cruel meat and exotic-skin industries, because many farmers who raise birds for food or clothing make an extra profit by selling their feathers.

If you’re ready to give industries that abuse animals the bird, here are some items to avoid and suggestions about what to purchase instead:

Boas and Feather Dusters

An eyewitness investigation of the largest ostrich slaughter companies in the world showed that workers forcibly restrain young ostriches, electrically stun them, and then cut their throats. Moments later, the feathers are torn from the birds’ still-warm bodies before they’re skinned and dismembered.

Feathers—some of which are ripped from ostriches’ skin while they’re fully conscious—are used in costumes for the Moulin Rouge and festivals like Brazil’s Carnival, as well as in feather dusters, boas, and accessories.

Many colorful feather boas.

Today, kind designers and burlesque dancers are creatively and compassionately using feather-free materials. Check out these bird-friendly boas:

Happy Boa

Fringe Boas From the Oriental Trading Co.

ShowGirlPropShop and BarelyBoa

Decay Couture

When shopping for dusters, always be sure to choose microfiber dusters, which are available at any store that sells cleaning products.


Get creative! There are many ways to make your own feather boa.

Feather Hair Extensions and Earrings

Rooster feathers look best on their rightful owners, but some salons are now weaving them into customers’ hair as an accessory.

Roosters who are used to make these extensions are bred and genetically altered to produce long, luxurious saddle feathers (the ones on their backsides, which can take years to grow) and then killed and de-feathered for a silly fashion trend.

Plenty of hair accessories and earrings are available that don’t harm animals, but if you must go for the feather look, check out Fire Mountain Gems and Beads for faux feathers available in many colors, or make your own “feathers.” For earrings, opt for decorative metal options like these.

Cat Toys With Feathers

Since feathers from chickens, turkeys, and other birds killed for the meat industry are abundant and cheap, they’re often dyed or altered for commercial sale and used in items like cat toys. Thankfully, plenty of cruelty-free cat toys are available, or you can always make your own at home—cats love shoestrings, boxes, and rolled-up aluminum foil!

At the store, look for little balls with bells inside or for toys covered with synthetic yarn or string. Or you can always let your cat indulge in PETA’s catnip toy.

Avoid Down

Be sure to avoid all down items, too! With so many animal-free options to choose from—why would anyone choose cruelty?

The only way to ensure that no birds suffer for your clothing or accessories is by choosing cruelty-free materials—just check the labels. Make the compassionate choice to go feather-free now.

To learn more about vegan fashion, check out our How to Wear Vegan feature.

Speak up for animals who are killed for fur and down feathers by signing our action alert urging Canada Goose to ditch these cruel materials:

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