It is now the season when folks are looking for warm clothing and/or shopping for loved ones. I just wanted to remind readers of the cruelties of buying anything with down and feathers in it because it is not too late to return these items!

Down is produced mainly in European countries, where ducks are born and raised into two subgroups. Gray birds are separated at 8 to 9 weeks of age and force fed 6 pounds of corn mash daily to fatten them up for foie gras. The white ducks are separated and used to produce down.

Plucking geese causes them considerable pain and distress. Four or five times in their lives, they will squirm as a plucker tears out 5 ounces of their feathers. After the last plucking, the geese have five weeks to grow more feathers before they are sent through a machine that plucks their longest feathers – again, while alive.

People also gather down from the nests of wild female eider ducks, who pluck the down from their breasts to line their nests and cover their eggs. Gathering these soft feathers can kill unhatched ducklings.

Apart from the cruelty involved in its production, down has drawbacks as a cold-weather insulator. It loses its insulating ability when wet, whereas the insulating capabilities of synthetic fillers are retained in all weather. Plus, down is difficult to wash and synthetic fibers are much easier to clean.

Lastly, a commitment from companies to provide cruelty-free down products from animals is meaningless because there is simply no way to source humanely produced down.

I hope readers will take this into consideration and do the humane thing: Please don’t buy these products, and please return purchased ones so that new demand does not exist on suppliers.

HUMANE-ity starts here.

Carole G. Jean

Portland