Down and Out

My down comforter has leaked feathers for years, gradually losing its amazing thermal insulating power. I didn’t want to endure another winter of freezing my unmentionables off, so I went online in search of a new comforter.

That’s when I discovered something very discomfiting.

Bald geese.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

Bloody, bald geese. Geese that have been live-plucked for their downy feathers.

There’s a movement afoot to discourage people from buying down products. Animal rights activists claim that most of the down we get from geese is harvested using a method called live-plucking. You can read more about it by clicking here.

A goose is held down and sometimes tied up, and then it’s feathers are plucked until the goose is bald and bleeding. Often the flesh is ripped open from the plucking, and then sewn back shut with a straight needle. No anasthesia or pain killer is given the poor, suffering goose.

If you’re not too squeamish, and have already eaten breakfast, try watching this video produced by PETA. It shows live-plucking in action.

IKEA and Patagonia are two businesses that no longer use down in their products, due to their opposition to live-plucking. But many companies continue to use and sell down products. I wonder if they’re hoping the general public won’t catch on to the animal cruelty we finance when we buy their feathery merchandise.

The good news is, there are plenty of excellent synthetic alternatives to down.

My research discovered the best substitute is Primaloft. Primaloft was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1980’s. It possesses nearly the same insulating power as down, and retains 96% of its insulating capability when wet. Down, on the other hand, is useless when wet.

Primaloft is also lightweight. But I must concede, it does not seem quite as lightweight as down. Just the same, it sure can take a heavy burden off your conscience.

A good Primaloft comforter also costs less than a good down comforter. I bought one for about $150.

I used it for the first time a few nights ago, when winter got into a battle with our late-summer weather, and sent us a crushing cold front. I slept cozy as a coyote. In fact I had to stick my legs out, to keep the prickly heat away.

Down is down and out, on my shopping list. I can’t get the image of bloody honking geese out of my head. But at least I can sleep better knowing that perhaps a few less geese will be tortured, due to my recent buying decision.

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