When a little white feather emerged from a cushion, my grandson and I fell to discussing its provenance. And I, for one, almost wish we hadn't. Apparently, feathers are obtained in three ways. Firstly, they come from dead birds. Secondly, they are "gathered" by grooming the birds (pretty roughly, by the sound of it). But worst of all, and this happens on a grand scale, they are plucked from live birds, often tearing the skin so badly that it has to be stitched (no anaesthetic, needless to say). Then when the feathers grow again, the whole process is repeated. Cyclical torture for the birds involved.
I was appalled, and also ashamed that I had never even questioned the origins of the feathers in our pillows, cushions and duvets. How can we check what is inside cushions when we buy them, and whether the welfare of the birds who provided them has been given any consideration? Do vegetarians use down-filled pillows? Am I the only person who didn't know all this? And why is there no campaigning against this awful practice? Thoughts, please.