I have just learnt something that I thought might be true – choosing toys and accessories with feathers in them is not a good idea if I’m trying to do my eco best.
This has been on my mind for a couple of weeks when I noticed a unicorn pen I bought Joni had feathers on it. It’s also made of plastic so really I shouldn’t have bought it at all. Plus it’s truly hideous and doesn’t actually work. Thank you, Poundworld.
I also noticed that she had feathers in her her craft box that I bought last year and in a hat that her grandma bought from Sherwood Forest.
I went to the great Eco Oracle Google and discovered that yep, feathers are bad.
Marabou feathers used to come from the African marabou stork (makes sense) but thanks to mankind’s insatiable need to destroy all that is good to make a profit, the marabou stork is now endangered and is now on a protected species list. Good news for the stalk but bad news for chickens and turkeys, as everyone’s favourite exploitative birds are now filling the gap.
I read a bit about how the feathers are harvested from birds and it’s not good. At best, the feathers that are ready to shed are gently plucked from live birds, at worst, feathers that are not ready to drop off naturally are yanked out of live birds as they’re held down in positions that often suffocate them anyway. If the birds survive then this process is repeated every few weeks. In some cases the feathers are a by-product of the poultry industry, but this doesn’t make them ethical as chickens, geese and turkeys still had to die.
According to Peta “workers in China – the source of 80% of the world’s down – forcefully restrain geese and rip their feathers out as they struggle and scream”.
It does seem a bit weird that the use of feathers in stuff for kids is commonplace, yet I can’t imagine shops being able to get away with a toy rabbit being made out of real rabbit fur.
Finding out more about feathers has been a revelation for me. I’ve been vegetarian for 27 years and vegan for 9 months and it has never occurred to me before that the feathers used in accessories, fashion, duvets etc actually come from birds, nevermind that those birds have suffered. I kind of thought that maybe the feathers fell out on their own and someone collected them up. Seems unlikely that would be the case when there’s cash to be made.
This is an easy one to do my best at though, as it should be straightforward to avoid buying anything with feathers in it. As always, it’s going to be a case of thinking before I buy and not just mindlessly chucking things in a basket because I think it’ll please a three year old who’ll only play with them for 30 seconds anyway.
Gotta stay strong in the toy aisle, or better still, not gown down it at all.