When we began using down, we put considerable effort into developing the knowledge and expertise to source the best material, but animal welfare was not routinely discussed. But as broader animal welfare issues began to bubble to the surface and by 2009, numerous animal welfare charities were citing specific evidence of mistreatment against ducks and geese and practices such as ‘live plucking’ and ‘moult-harvesting’ became more commonly known, much greater emphasis was given to this issue.

We began an extended fact-finding mission, holistically addressing animal welfare in our supply chains. We were starting from scratch: there were no standards, no auditing schemes, little industry knowledge and few, if any, case studies. The only thing which seemed to be in abundance was scepticism. Our starting point was to create a list of assumptions about our supply chain and then to establish whether those assumptions were correct. We took our lead from the UK’s leading animal welfare charity, the RSPCA, and to understand more about the down supply chain, we turned to the International Down and Feather Laboratory (IDFL) for help.

With their help and the openness of one of our factories, we conducted our first site visit in August 2010 in Northern China.

In January 2011, DOWN CODEX® was formally launched at the ISPO European Outdoor Trade Show. It was an initiative that would enlighten not just ourselves but a whole industry on how the down supply chain industry worked, help show how risk could be managed, and lead the way in developing standards and traceability.

Since then, numerous other down standards have developed, each influenced by DOWN CODEX®. In 2022, having attended numerous Standard working group meetings, the welfare criteria of the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) now met those of Down Codex®. Our audits since 2022 have been carried out according to RDS criteria. This gives users the best of both worlds: RDS is an independent and certifiable standard, while Down Codex® continues to provide greater background information and transparency about our supply chains than any other down-sourcing scheme.

“As a specialist sleeping bag and down clothing manufacturer, we have committed a great deal of time and effort to obtain the very best raw materials for our product requirements over the years. We are also directing our focus to include the environmental, ethical, and animal welfare concerns relating to our products and raw materials selection. We are currently working with our suppliers to be as specific as possible with our description of where our down comes from so customers can make an informed choice about purchasing a Mountain Equipment bag.”

Mountain Equipment Down Sourcing, 2009.

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