June 12, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

PETA activists protest at Valley River Center

6 min read
Richard Zisser: Directing our money towards an ethical company will always make a huge difference. As consumers, most of us purchase something every day. If we can make a conscious purchase, that is the change that we need to see.

DJ Suss D: Amid the Black Friday rush of cars entering Valley River Center was People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), protesting H&M’s use of goose down feathers in their products. I spoke with Zay and Richard Zisser of Portland PETA. So why are you out here today?

Richard Zisser (PETA Action Team): H&M has been known to cause harm to animals, ducks and geese specifically.

[00:00:26] They torture them by hanging them from their feet. They slit their throat while they’re still conscious. They are not out of their misery or dead when this happens. They also tase them and boil them alive. The tasing does not always knock them unconscious. So, H&M has a list of things that they do that are considered ethical

[00:00:48] But this is all, this is called humane-washing, when you supply the customers with a list of humane things you do, but you still do this one thing. Many companies do it, and it’s not, it should not be tolerated by the people. So, by boycotting H&M and many other companies that are also causing severe suffering to animals, we need to boycott them, bring their stocks down and change the projectory of that business.

[00:01:17] Demanding what we want will change the practices of these businesses.

[00:01:22] DJ Suss D: So is there an ethical way to get down feathers or should we just go with a replacement, with some alternative?

[00:01:29] Richard Zisser (PETA Action Team): We should go with any sort of replacement. There’s tons of materials out there in the world that is soft and comfortable. My comfort and anybody else’s comfort should not come at the cost of an animal.

[00:01:46] DJ Suss D: All right. And so People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, is there a Eugene chapter here?

[00:01:50] Richard Zisser (PETA Action Team): There is not there. We’re operating in Portland, but we like to stretch our arms and legs out as far as we can go.

[00:01:57] DJ Suss D: So is there a demonstration in Portland today too?

[00:01:59] Zay Zisser (PETA Action Team): Today has been going on for, I think, over 15 years: Fur-Free or Feather-Free Friday. So all around the country and all around the world, activists and supporters are attempting to spread the message at places like H&M and many other retailers that continue to support the down and fur industries.

[00:02:17] And so there’s demonstrations as we speak happening all around the country and the world for Fur-Free / Feather-Free Friday.

[00:02:25] DJ Suss D: All right, any other boycotts that we should know about, of what else can the consumers do?

[00:02:31] Richard Zisser (PETA Action Team): Well, there’s tons of businesses that put animals in their products. Everywhere from food, beverages, snacks, to makeup, to clothing. Honestly, it’s in the paints of our cars.

[00:02:45] Any decision we make with directing our money towards an ethical company will always make a huge difference. So, yeah, there’s tons of companies and we should always research what it is that we’re purchasing because as consumers, we, most of us purchase something every day. If we can make a conscious purchase, that is the change that we need to see.

[00:03:10] DJ Suss D: And then what about animal testing during the COVID epidemic? They had to do a lot of animal testing, right?

[00:03:15] Richard Zisser (PETA Action Team): I do have some thoughts on animal testing. I don’t think that anything that is alive and existing and on this planet should be used for our benefit. I don’t, I personally would not ask to live longer at the expense of somebody else, somebody else being you, me, or an animal.

[00:03:37] Zay Zisser (PETA Action Team): I can tell you in my research of the animal experimentation industry, many, if not most, of the experiments done and the results, the things that result for them, are not beneficial to humans.

[00:03:51] That really the massive tragedy of all, that even someone that’s not a diehard animal rights supporter can sympathize in, and the fact that these animals are being tortured in laboratories across the world when the results that are being produced from this so called ‘science’ that these researchers are doing is not valuable to humans anyway.

[00:04:14] It can’t be translated from a pig or a mouse or a monkey to a human in almost every single way. So by continuing to do these animal tests rather than using other ethical alternatives like computer simulations among many or human volunteer in some circumstances, what they’re doing is preventing good medicine from coming out. Because when they do a test on a mouse and it’s not effective and that now does not have a chance to work through to humans, that’s preventing humans from receiving good medicine because of the junk science and animal testing.

[00:04:56] And it goes the other way around. When they test on mice and something proves to have efficacy or success in a mouse trial, and then it goes to humans, the majority of the time it is just completely worthless, worthless information.

[00:05:10] So there’s all across the country and world, there’s people just torturing animals in cages, in laboratories, calling it science when all they’re doing is just writing papers for each other and it’s providing humans no viable benefit.

[00:05:24] DJ Suss D: But I noticed they can literally order these animals like a catalog, like you would order something from Amazon.

[00:05:30] Zay Zisser (PETA Action Team): That’s right. And these animals have no rights. Once they’re under the Rome of being experimented on, they have no rights. Even some cruel animal importers and exporters for illegal pet trades and things like that, sometimes they use the label of research animal when they’re importing and exporting the animals because of the lack of rights that they have.

[00:05:55] I would just add that it’s important people remember that as far as down’s concerned and products like fur, there’s no such thing as ethical fur and down.

[00:06:07] PETA Asia just did a massive investigation, which is the reason that we’ve got a campaign against H&M right now, is because they were claiming responsible, ethical down products. And PETA Asia did an investigation into their down farms and saw the worst conditions imaginable with birds completely mangled, crammed, crammed into cages, wired floors, beaks destroyed. They’re mutilated while they’re still alive.

[00:06:36] Just the absolute worst you can imagine is what exists inside these so-called ethical animal farms. So if that’s what exists inside the so-called ethical animal farms and most of the farms don’t even claim that false label, you can just imagine the true scope of the horror for animals that are suffering in all different ways for experimentation, food, clothing, and entertainment. And that’s why we’re in full support of ending the use of them for all of us.

[00:07:04] Specifically for H&M down campaign, it’s PETA.org/Vietnam Down, because that’s where their down farms are located, and that’s where PETA Asia just did the recent investigation.

[00:07:21] DJ Suss D: All right. Thanks for coming out and doing this after a holiday and everything. (Yes. Really appreciate it.)

According to H&M’s Animal Welfare and Material Ethics Policy, all virgin down feathers used by H&M must come from farms certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) or a similar standard. Currently, the only accepted standard, apart from the RDS, is the Traceable Down Standard. They do not accept down or feathers from exotic birds, and they promote the use of recycled down and other sustainable alternatives.

For KEPW News, I’m DJ Suss D.


In a statement on its website, the H&M Group said it is working on the issue: “…We are working to source all animal-derived materials from certified farms with improved animal welfare practices in place.”

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