Monday, January 19, 2015

To Duvet or Not to Duvet: The Not-So-Fluffy Side of the Bedding Industry, Part 1

Looks harmless enough, doesn't it?

Read this post as well as new content on the completely redesigned Of Houses and Trees!

Back when I was redesigning our master bedroom, I had a hard time answering a kind of silly question – do I want a duvet? Now, is it important whether we fall asleep beneath a duvet, a quilt, a comforter, or a pile of dirty clothing? No. Of course not. What's important is that we fall asleep in a warm home in a safe neighbourhood where our biggest problems are what type of bedding to buy. I know this. However, there is a dark side to everything – even blankets. Impossible, you say? Read on…

My original reason for not wanting a duvet was that they're lumpy. No, that's not the dark part – I'm still getting there. Every duvet I've encountered in the past wouldn't lay flat and what's the point of making your bed if it looks like there's a bunch of turtles hiding beneath the covers? (Ummm, I love turtles so that would actually be awesome.) I also tend to like myself a heavier blanket. I'm an unsettled sleeper and the weight helps calm me. Not that I've been diagnosed with a sensory disorder, but I sometimes wonder. (Turns out you can actually buy weighted blankets for people with autism, ADHD, etc. I'm intrigued…)
Happy geese doing geese like things - feathers intact.

I looked around for a heavy quilt that I liked, but when I came across the linen-coloured duvet cover from this post at one of my favourite Stony Plain stores, The Country Pumpkin, I began to rethink my duvet disdain. I knew I didn't want a down duvet, because I was pretty darn sure there wasn't a humane way to de-feather a goose. Still, I was curious about the down collecting process and – since I have a un-scratchable research itch – I did some poking around.

Unfortunately, I was right about the inhumanity because the majority of down is collected when the goose is alive. According to this Peta website, "undercover video footage shows employees on goose farms pulling fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in terror… Once their feathers are ripped out, many of the birds, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping wounds – some even die as a result of the procedure." Thank god the images on the page didn't load while I was reading the article, the words were horrifying enough. And while the down industry claims the majority of down is a by-product of the meat industry (meaning it was plucked from already dead birds), this website reveals that a 2009 Swedish documentary found that 50%-80% of down still comes from live birds.

So – no down-filled duvet for me. But what are the other options? Well, there's silk, but – again – how is it harvested? If a goose deserves my sympathy, than a silk worm does as well. As the saying goes, "everything under the sun…"

Click here for Part 2 of "To Duvet or Not to Duvet: The Not-So-Fluffy Side of the Bedding Industry" and please leave a comment below just saying "what's up" or answering these questions… What kind of bedding do you have? Does the treatment of geese or silk worms concern you or is that just me? 


Unknown said...

The ethical treatment of the creatures we harvest for food is very important to me. When it comes to using creatures for our goods (duvets, silks, paper, ect.) I even find it to be impractical these days. Almost everything can be made synthetic now, so why brutally tear out goose feathers for bedding... Skin animals for fur... Why?

I also hope silk worms are treated well... And also that we don't end up learning silk actually comes from genetically modified goats who secrete spider silk.

Unknown said...

The thing about synthetics though is that nasty chemicals may be used in the creation process. Also, the companies that make said products may test on the very animals you're trying to protect by purchasing these so-called "alternatives." Now I sound like a conspiracy theorist… which I kind of am.