Monday, February 2, 2015

To Duvet or Not to Duvet: The Not-So-Fluffy Side of the Bedding Industry, Part 2

According to PETA, "approximately 3,000 silk worms die
to make one pound of silk."
Read this post as well as new content on the completely redesigned Of Houses and Trees!

For Part 1 of this post, click here.

Ah, silk. Is there any more luxurious a fabric? A natural protein fibre, silk has been used in the creation of clothing, furnishings, parachutes and, yes, even bedding.

To me, silk will always be a smell, a department store and my keen-nosed mom. I remember fondly the times I followed her as she followed that earth-scented trail – leading us to a scarf, a dress, a pair of flowy draw-stringed pants that would be sniffed and then left behind after we'd gawked at the price.

Silk bedding is often pitched as an excellent alternative to down duvets due to its hypoallergenic properties. But, just as with down – the production of silk has a disturbing side.

He/she may not be cute and fuzzy, but humans aren't
so cute and fuzzy either.
According to Earth Divas, a website that sells fair-trade and cruelty-free products, the silkworms used in the production of human goods have now been farmed for so long they no longer exist in the wild and are considered a domesticated insect. If allowed, a silkworm would follow the natural stages of metamorphosis – egg, larval, pupal, adult, but the majority of silkworms are boiled alive or gassed inside their cocoons before they can further mature (as emerging from their cocoon would destroy some of the silk).

The creepiest aspect of all this, to me, is that if a domesticated silkworm were allowed to live to its moth phase (Bombyx mori), it would be blind and lack the ability to fly. This not-so-fun fact reminds me of reading about KFC chickens being bred without beaks or feet. Thankfully, according to Snopes, this is a false accusation as this practice "is still beyond the reach of modern science for the time being." Hmm, "for the time being"…? Reassuring.

But I digress. There is a product called peace silk, which is made by wild moths that are allowed to pass throughout all metamorphosis stages and go on to die a natural death, however I wasn't able to find whether there are peace silk duvets – mostly because I got distracted by another great alternative – bamboo duvets.

It's okay. The bamboo doesn't feel a thing.
We've probably all heard it by now, "bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants in the world… certain species of bamboo can grow 35 inches in a 24-hour period" (from Wikipedia). (Although, I'm sure if I did enough research I'd find a dark side to bamboo harvesting too. I know, I'm such a killjoy.) This means it's a very, very sustainable product and can be used in the creation of everything from cooking utensils to clothing to building materials to snowboards. And don't forget about bedding!

Bamboo duvets aren't cheap, but neither are the down or silk versions. I also had a hard time finding a variety of buying options – my choices were all online and often came with a hefty shipping cost. At the end of the day, I ended up going with a good, old synthetic duvet.

Sure, manmade materials come with their own issues, but I made sure the one I purchased was Oeko-Tex certified – meaning it was produced in an environmentally friendly manner and is free from harmful substances (i.e.: formaldehyde, which is often used to keep fabrics wrinkle-free and moisture-resistant, all while adding just a sprinkle of cancer-causing dust).

Phew. That was a lot of talk about blankets. I think I'll go lie down now…

While I'm napping beneath my Oeko-Tex certified duvet, tell me – what kind of sustainable products do you own? Doesn't have to be sleep related. Perhaps you own a bamboo bra? A peace silk purse? Something else I'm not clever enough to alliterate about?


Leo said...

The only earth sustaining product I can think of right now that we own are some toys that are made of recycled materials as well as the little about of packaging it comes in (as opposed to a lot of the toys where the packaging has a million wires, ties, plastic pieces, etc.). I haven't researched the process of these toys, so I cannot say for sure.

And speaking of bras, some days I don't even put one on. Nothing more earth sustaining than au naturale!

You always open my eyes with all your facts Larissa!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment Leo! Yes - no bra equals saving the world, I totally agree. As for toys - yikes. I fear they are sometimes the worst. Especially, as you say, the packaging. It's like childproof wrapping on a child's toy. Crazy.

Anonymous said...

Poor silk worms, I had no idea of their sad fate:( I may continue to smell my way through the silk garments hanging in the clothing boutiques, old habits are hard to break, but will now, armed with new information, check the label for the harvesting friendly peace silk label.

PS... Are they sure the bamboo doesn't feel a thing?

Unknown said...

I suppose we can't be sure about the poor bamboo… perhaps we should ask it?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm an interesting question. I bought bamboo socks the other day and I love them! Does that count? c.

Unknown said...

Yes bamboo socks count!