I’ve been eyeing for a winter jacket for me. A light, but a warm one. Down, that is. Or maybe some synthetic material in place of down, because..
Down, either goose or duck or whatever, is said to be the best insulant ever. Some synthetic materials come close to it, but are usually heavier and do not pack as small. Down, however, has some downsides when you start thinking how it’s produced to keep you warm.
Down can be produced practically in three ways:
– Gather it from empty bird nests, which of course takes time is expensive, but does not harm the animals. One question however, how do the people go to the nests..?
– Pluck it from the dead birds chests, the birds being killed for food. The question here is how they have been fed? Many times by force to fatten them faster, and their livers for foie-gras.
– Pluck it from their chest while they are still alive and can grow it back, maybe five times in their lives. Hurts.
There’s a jacket on offer in local outdoor gear shop that would probably suit my needs rather good. It’s list price is 169 Euros, but is now available for 139. However, the manufacturer does not say anything about the source and the methods used in plucking of the down used in this jacket. So, I’d say it’s quite safe to say, that there is quite a risk for it being produced by hurting the birds at least some way.
There’s also some other jackets by different manufacturers that state that their down suppliers don’t pluck from alive birds, but cannot guarantee the birds not being force-fed. The jacket is very very similar, but the price is 199 or 249 Euros, depending on if you choose an American or Swedish brand. So, at least 60 Euros more, and you still don’t know if the birds were happy.
Another possibility are the synthetics. For 199 Euros you can get a very similar jacket that has been made out of recycled plastics, so you know that no animals were harmed in producing it. Plastics are made of oil, though, and you don’t know how the recycling process was done. And traditionally synthetics have not been as warm, as light and as packable as down. So, you pay 60 Euros more and take a small chance of the product not being as good.
So how much are you ready to pay for being ethical? How deep are you willing to research?
And an update: there’s also a similar jacket available for 69 Euros at a sports outlet. So now it’s 139 Euros (+200 %) for the well-being of geese if you care..