Geese can't grow their feathers fast enough to cover up the live plucking. Photo courtesy of PETA

Geese can’t grow their feathers fast enough to cover up the live plucking. Photo courtesy of PETA

This posting serves to remind me of the parasitic depths a few humans will plummet to for making a quick buck in their lifetime. It also serves to remind me that we, as a collective conscience, have the power to change that parasitic profit margin.

To quickly put this in context, I sign around 20-50 petitions per month around the world, related to concerns of many different people, and whilst I may have some emotional response to these I never let it cloud my judgement or become depressed. The fact that there are so many petitions to sign only strengthens my belief that the majority of our human race knows the right thing to do, ethically and morally. It is only a very small number of human parasites amongst us that account for a very high percentage of the misery and suffering on this planet, as we know.

So here is a real example of one active petition. A network of organisations are being reminded that it is morally and ethically unacceptable to pull feathers out of birds while they are alive so that they can make a product to sell on their shelves. Simple as that. It doesn’t take much moral thinking to know that this is not something we would encourage our children to do in the playground with the local pigeons and doves, so why should we accept it in the adult world??

Fortunately, the ‘warrior spirit’ walks amongst us too, in the adult playground, to remind the ignorant or cruel that their behaviour is not acceptable to the moral code on which our civilisations are built. The ‘warrior spirit’ makes a difference by: voting with the wallet; signing a petition; flying a protest banner; ethical hacking; writing to the local MP; supporting a charity; volunteering at a refugee camp; and on the list goes. It ALL makes a difference, large or small.

So, back to the feathers.

PETA released some data on feather manufacturing and a selection of buyers procuring these feathers for their product lines. Three of these organisations have their own websites with some information reflecting their moral thinking, all of which presents a healthy practice in governance and accountability, as you can see for yourself. I was interested to read about them. (click on the images to be directed to the website)

Lands'End statement on bird Down procurement

Lands’End statement on bird Down procurement

 

"Screaming deals" for summer at Eddie's... this organisation has a statement on labour laws if you dig around the site but nothing as glossy as Lands'End's Sustainability page above

“Screaming deals” for summer at Eddie’s… this organisation has a statement on labour laws if you dig around the site but nothing as glossy as Lands’End’s Sustainability page above

 

Eddie Bauer's "global labour practices"

Eddie Bauer’s “global labour practices”

 

Hollander's brands look so aspiring, cleansing, pure of thought...

Hollander’s brands look so aspiring, cleansing, pure of thought…

 

Hollander's websitte, all pure feathery white in social responsibility

Hollander’s website, all pure feathery white in social responsibility

So, there we have three organisations with their shiny websites, no different to most websites out there selling their wares and appealing to our sense of buying power to join a certain ‘club’ in style. Somewhere in those websites are products containing bird feathers.

I try to imagine my own business being  targeted by a petition appealing for my business practices to change because I am ‘pulling feathers out of live pigeons and doves in the playground’ and people don’t like it. Now, as a business director myself, I know that I am responsible for everything that happens in it from the coffee I buy for break-times through to the choice of bank for my business account; do I choose Fair-trade products for coffee? Do I choose an ethical bank? Do I offshore for tax benefits? My choice, my responsibility, and when the profits come to light I will know the REAL COST of my business practices.  Morals and ethics. Simple.

So I signed the PETA petition and wrote my own statement to each of the above organisations, and I was interested to see how these businesses were responding to the public response on their Facebook pages. I would expect that a business with a ‘clean sheet’ and healthy transparent practices would be keen to understand the accusations, perhaps keen to state they were discussing the findings with PETA and assuring each Facebook member (a potential consumer of their wares) that the accusations are in dispute.

So what do we find?

We find Lands’End are simply copying/pasting a bland statement directing the concerned public to their Sustainability page. For Lands’End, 47 comments or not, they must have better things to do? Are readers supposed to be distracted by dreamy images of carefree oceanic-view picnics and happy dogs on the beach, and bury their head in the sand?

Lands'End Facebook comments and response

Lands’End Facebook comments and response

 

And then Eddie Bauer’s Facebook is in the same frame of mind as Lands’End. No response until 23 minutes ago, when they responded with:”Hi Kendall. Eddie Bauer does not purchase live-plucked down, does not use live-plucked down in its products, and does not condone cruelty to animals. We take this issue very seriously. We have investigated PETA’s allegations with our suppliers and believe there is no evidence any live-plucked goose down entered our supply chain.”

Of course, Eddie Bauer’s has no direct transparent view of their own business processes, end to end, so they have to “believe there is no evidence” of any live-plucked goose in their own supply chain. Does that reassure the reader? Does Eddie Bauer’s outsourcing practices protect the consumer from buying unethically products?

Eddie Bauer's Facebook comments

Eddie Bauer’s Facebook comments

 

And since Hollander is in the same outsourcing game as the rest, the lack of transparent business processes, end to end, means they can only respond on Facebook with, “Hollander Sleep Products strongly supports the humane treatment of animals and has gone to great lengths to assure that our values are shared by our suppliers. Independent auditors have found no evidence that Hollander Sleep Products has purchased live-plucked material from any source.”  Hollander ha also uploaded a letter from the American Down and Feather Council that announces a research paper will be released shortly to explain the manufacturing and supplier chain process (and we can assume this will clear them of the allegations).

 

Hollander' Facebook comments and responses

Hollander’ Facebook comments and responses

 

What is notable in all the replies, if we are to assume their business practices are impeccable, is the omission of their own disgust or disdain of the content in the PETA article/footage. These Asian factories are associated to the global feather industry, so surely they have something to say about it?

So much is outsourced on this planet that we can never know the complete cycle of everything we buy and sell, but when a story breaks news we can ask the questions and decide for ourselves. We can choose to believe there may be some truth to the story and switch to a known-to-be-ethical competitor for a duration, or we can choose to worry about it later and the next generations will pick up the pieces. Everything is OUR choice.

Originally published: Saturday, May 28th, 2016 at 02:08 in Living matter, Monologues

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2 Responses to “Parasitic practices for profits”

  1. Coach M says:

    Parasite as in unthinking and unfeeling. The only human quality these companies share with the consumers to whom they owe their existence is the instinct to survive, apparently at all costs.

    Implementing and then regurgitating bits of a by-the-numbers ethical policy demonstrates little more than an acute sensitivity, not to the customer’s expectations but to risk, liability and legal wriggle room.

    The human beings in charge of these companies’ social media accounts ought to share something in common with the human beings who care about animal welfare but money has broken that connection and the corporate blinkers are firmly shut.

    Reptile plc still depends on the consumer and the consumer can exercise his/her human will to buy elsewhere. Supporting organisations like PETA means we keep informing ourselves to make those choices.

    • Thank you for your early morning comment! Hope the race went well 🙂

      The “by-the-numbers” ethical policy is a good description. When you read them on company websites they seem so far removed from the rest of the content, as if the world uses one global template to copy/paste. When an organisation is truly in touch with their business you can feel the integrity in everything they do.

      One observation I can make from all the petition-signing over the years is on the patterns. There are the usual suspects repeatedly re-offending (usually the well-known brand suppliers/manufacturers). These can often be global organisations and outsourcing is often their Achilles heels in corporate governance. Then there are back-door or covertly influenced operations by organisations (private and government) that circumvent the democratic process because they know a vote or new legislation would not be favourable to them. There are many petitions that are concerned with bravely tackling various abuses and exploitations, and there are plenty related to the -isms on the planet.

      On a positive note, there are thousands and thousands of people who take a little time out each week to sign some and the phone apps help to make this easier. Some of my best weekly moments come from the petition updates announcing success, and these account for a very high proportion of petitions I sign :-).
      Long live the warrior spirit!!

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