Warming Up with Down

Nature’s Most Effective Insulator Goes Upscale

With winter in full force for the Northern Hemisphere, you probably don’t need a reminder to bundle up and stay warm. But what’s the best way to do that? When you’re talking about coats, jackets and comforters, you can’t beat down for staying snug and toasty.

What exactly is down?
Down is the fluffy, insulating quill-less feathers located just underneath the tougher outer layer of feathers of such waterfowl as ducks and geese. Many prefer goose down to duck down, as it’s typically generally larger in size and therefore offers a higher fill power, which is the measure of the down’s “fluffiness” and its power to insulate. The higher the fill power, the more air that an ounce of down can trap.

Lightweight, breathable and long-lasting, down is also the warmest insulating material available, natural or synthetic. And it has a long lifetime—a plus, in light of the fact that it can take the down of 75 or more birds to make an average comforter. Usually the down from a jacket of duvet will outlast its covering.

Is it “OK” to choose down?
RDS-Logo_useIn recent years, some have raised ethical questions about down harvesting and animal welfare standards. In response, the Responsible Down Standard was created by animal welfare groups, industry experts, brands and retailers to help ensure ethical treatment of the birds that supply down.

On some newer garments, you can even track where and how your down was sourced by entering the lot number from the garment’s tag.

At least one manufacturer is also now incorporating recycled down into its product offering in order to appeal to an ever-growing eco-conscious consumer base. A vendor in Europe gathers and sorts the down from gently used blankets, pillows and duvets. It’s then cleaned, re-sorted and sterilized before being used to make coats and jackets.

The benefits of recycled down?
In addition to raising awareness about the ethical treatment of animals, purchasing items made from recycled down provides the advantage of helping divert waste from landfills or trash incinerators.

However, because the cleaning and processing of recycled down follow almost the same steps as processing new down, they also use about the same amount of resources as those needed to process new down. Looking to recycle down from items you have at home? We found these nifty ways to repurpose down.

Do you have items that are made from down? Have you ever considered purchasing items containing recycled down? We’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below.

Resources
eHow: Down vs. Wool for Warmth in Coats
Treehugger: Do recycled feathers make your down coat more ethical?
Huffington Post: Down Comforters: Animal Cruelty Dependent Upon Where You Buy
Outside: Down Is Becoming Too Expensive
Quartz: A shopper’s guide to ethically-sourced down jackets
Tree Line Backpacker: Do you know where your down comes from? New standards in down.
Track My Down
eHow: How to Recycle Feather Pillows

Would you buy an item containing recycled down?

View Results
 
Yes:
 
95%
No:
 
5%
Total Votes:
82
9+
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