For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2022
Robin Goist 202-483-7382
Corte Madera, Calif. – When RH—formerly known as Restoration Hardware—holds its annual meeting tomorrow, PETA will be there asking shareholders to vote for its resolution calling on the company to commission a report on the welfare of the birds on the farms and in the slaughterhouses in the retailer’s down supply chain, due to concerns that they’re often live-plucked or scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
PETA will point out that RH provides no transparency regarding whether its monitoring process has confirmed suppliers’ compliance with animal welfare laws or what the company does when a country’s law allows for practices that are considered unacceptably cruel and are prohibited in many places throughout the world, such as China’s allowance of live plucking. As PETA investigations have revealed, even workers on purportedly “responsible farms” pull fistfuls of feathers out of live ducks and geese, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in pain and terror. Workers then sew their skin back together without any pain relief. In slaughterhouses, birds are often inadequately stunned before their throats are cut, so they’re still conscious when they’re dumped into defeathering tanks full of scalding-hot water.
“RH refuses to guarantee to shareholders and customers that the feathers in its products aren’t yanked out of shrieking, terrified ducks and geese,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is rallying RH shareholders to demand transparency in how birds are treated and killed for the decorative pillows RH sells—and is calling on everyone to steer clear of down products.”
PETA notes that a goose farm is responsible for this year’s avian flu outbreak, which has resulted in the deaths of nearly 400,000 wild birds worldwide. And even though the down industry is part of animal agriculture—which accounts for nearly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions—RH touts its “environmental stewardship through sustainability.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s shareholder statement follows.
RH’s policies on responsible sourcing include guidelines for certain materials that extend beyond its Vendor Code of Conduct. Regarding animal-derived materials, the company has pledged to “monitor certain animal and natural products such as those made with down feathers.” Despite this claim, RH provides no transparency regarding its monitoring process and, specifically, whether its monitoring has confirmed vendor compliance with animal welfare laws or what is done when a country’s law allows for practices that are considered unacceptably cruel and are prohibited in many places throughout the world, such as China’s allowance of live plucking.
RH labels its down as “European white goose down” or employs terms such as “white down” or “down” that fail to indicate even a region from which it was sourced. With respect to Europe, both the European Commission (EC) and the European Court of Auditors (ECA) have noted numerous issues in compliance with even the minimum standards of animal welfare across the European Union (EU).
Producers in Hungary and Poland—key sources for European goose down—are chief violators of the EU ban on live plucking, which entails tearing fistfuls of feathers out of birds at rapid speed, often causing gaping and bloody flesh wounds. Although EU law prohibits live plucking on the grounds of cruelty to animals, an estimated 300,000 animals are live-plucked every year in Hungary.
An ECA special report on animal welfare identified inadequate waterbath stunning of poultry as a key weakness in compliance in a sampling of member states, including Poland. When birds are inadequately stunned, they remain conscious when their throats are cut and they’re dunked in the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank. Poland also failed to ensure that its national audits were conducted at least once every five years, contrary to EC guidelines.
The above findings suggest that notwithstanding its own requirements and pledges, RH could be sourcing from farms and slaughterhouses that violate animal welfare laws. It’s incumbent upon RH to ensure that its sourcing complies with current laws. Shareholders in our company deserve transparency as well as reassurances that it’s not implicated in illegal practices.
Accordingly, we urge all shareholders to support this ethically and economically responsible resolution