Since starting this company we've always been concerned about ethical practices - more than anything this is for our own moral conscience. From Summiteer's point of the view being successful is entirely unrewarding if it is off the back of something bad, or someone else's suffering. At the time of starting this company the factory we used was in an ideal situation. It was exclusively receiving down from one farm. The benefit to this was that for us, as a company that cared about this kind of thing, we could investigate this specific farm more easily. Some of you may have noticed that we have been out of stock of our Glow Worm 400 and 600 sleeping bags for quite sometime. This was not down to a lack of organisation but down to a moral dilemma we had....
Due to several circumstances mostly to do with growth, our factory had to take on other farms for its down supply. On top of this at the time of our visit to China in March, the country was at a high point in bird flu. This meant that farm inspections were off the agenda.
We decided that we wouldn't manufacture any sleeping bags until we could do two things.
1) Find out from our factory what kind of supply chains they were intending to use
2) Source an RDS down supplier that we could work towards eventually ordering all our down from directly.
Having now done those 2 things here is our update:
We have produced a batch of Glow Worm 400s and 600s using the farms our factory have started sourcing from. The research we have done (which did have to be done by going through our factory) has concluded that the down is sourced from meat factories. From our recent visit to the country and our own research over the last year, we know that this seems to be quite common out in China. Using meat factories guarantees two things. Firstly that the birds are killed before plucking and secondly that the down is effectively a "byproduct". I use that term in quotation marks because one has to remember that the down industry in China is very lucrative and the term "byproduct" almost makes it seem like selling the down is an after thought, or an alternative to it being thrown away, when in reality a lot of China's meat factories are equally as reliant on selling the down from their slaughtered ducks and geese as they are their meat. Having located a reputable RDS supplier out in China on our visit we can now work towards something more concrete and sustainable. The RDS (Responsible Down Standard) run yearly inspections on their certified suppliers along every part of the supply chain and are an organisation run by the textile exchange. Ultimately if we used RDS down it means that we as a company will be able to rely on a strict procedure to make sure we are using non live plucked down from non force fed birds and this to us is what we really hope to achieve within the next 18 months. Please don't forget that we are a transparent company. We rely heavily upon showing honesty and integrity and in turn hope that by offering this perspective to our customers we can gain their trust and support. Thanks for reading