12/16/2013 04:05 EST

The Harsh Reality Of Where Your Down Jacket Comes From

Image Source via Getty Images

Temperatures are dipping below zero degrees which means we're all reaching for our winter coats, and for some of us, that means a goose-filled down jacket.

The puffy coat is a favourite among Canadians because they protect us from the harsh winter climate thanks to its insulation, its lack of bulk and its general comfort.

However, these jackets come at a huge cost to the animals themselves, according to Salon.

The website claims that geese (and sometimes, but rarely, ducks) have the feathers plucked while they are still alive which causes them tremendous pain.

Salon author Marie Myung-Ok Lee writes:

"Down is often collected through a procedure called live plucking. Which is pretty much what it sounds like: A worker restrains the bird and rips out feathers by the handfuls, especially from the goose’s underbelly but sometimes also from the back. Often, pieces of skin come off as well, the birds scream in terror and struggle to get away. Sometimes they die from the trauma. Just Google “down cruelty” and you’ll find plenty of pictures of miserable, bald and dying geese straight from my nightmare. Animal rights groups contend that this practice encompasses 50-80 percent of all down."

This means that the down coat you're wearing while stomping through the slushy streets has most likely caused an animal to suffer. (Sorry for the downer.)

Unfortunately, it's hard to find retailers that sell ethically-sourced down coats. Even the North Face, which claims to produce humanely-sourced down (down that's plucked from geese who have already been killed for meat), gets most of its feathers from a company that uses live-plucking suppliers, according to Jezebel.

So what's one to do? If you want to buy an ethically conscious coat that will keep you warm, look to alternatives that have synthetic insulating fabrics. For more information go here and here.

Here are some winter jackets that don't use down:

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Women's Winter Jackets
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