As a by-product of the food industry, down is an important part of a large circular economy and has the ability to be processed in an a way that can have a very low impact providing one of the best insulation on AND FOR the planet.
The Goose and Duck supply chain is already a relatively low impact protein source and down itself only accounts for 2-8% of the value of the bird. The down and feather is collected following the preparation of the meat and would otherwise be thrown out as trash.
Many farms also have a secondary function. In China, there are farms where Geese roam free throughout commercial Asian Pear orchards. The waste from the birds fertilizes the tress and surrounding the orchard lie water and shelter for the birds.
And with such a low economic value per bird within an already low-impact supply chain, it was recently finally published that down has an 85 – 97% lower impact on the environment than a recycled synthetic alternative.