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 Responsible Down Standard: Sustainable Down Production
Sustainability | 27.01.2017

Sustainable down production to prevent animal suffering

The Responsible Down Standard: Greater Responsibility in Down Production

Responsible Down Standard: Sustainable Down Production. With the initiation of the Responsible Down Standard, The North Face began doing pioneering work in the field of animal protection.
With the initiation of the Responsible Down Standard, The North Face began doing pioneering work in the field of animal protection.
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The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) was initiated in 2013 by the outdoor brand The North Face, and was developed in cooperation with the non-profit organization Textile Exchange and the independent certification agency Control Union Certifications.

The reason behind this was increasing protests by animal rights activists who denounced the methods being used for harvesting down, demanding greater accountability from the clothing industry. Added to that was a particularly complex supply chain that was nearly impossible for clothing companies to audit.

The North Face transferred ownership of the RDS to Textile Exchange. That way, any organization can access this tool to procure down responsibly.

The Responsible Down Standard seal.
The Responsible Down Standard seal.

Down can only be acquired by plucking carcasses, meaning the animal must be dead first. Live plucking is prohibited. Animals must be kept in conditions free from any suffering, and may not be force fed.

Responsible Down Standard: Fighting Back Against Live-plucked Down

Though the RDS applies to the entire supply chain, it does not include the keeping of parent birds like the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) does. Including this makes sense, however, since parent animals face a particularly high risk of live plucking because of their longer lifespans.


An RDS certificate is valid for 14 months and is reviewed during this period through both scheduled and surprise inspections. The details of the standard’s criteria and requirements are available online.

The RDS is one of the most used down standards in the clothing industry. 900 large and small farms worldwide have already been certified. You can find additional information on the Responsible Down Standard here.

Dr. Regina Henkel (Quelle: Dr. Regina Henkel)
Article by Dr. Regina Henkel, editor
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