The last time I had to buy new bedding, I had a heck of a 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 problem is what type of bedding to buy. I know this.
However, there is a dark side to everything – even blankets. Impossible, you say?
I wish it were true.
The Not So Fluffy Side of Down
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), website Care 2 reveals that 50%-80% of down still comes from live birds.
Plus, according to Peta, “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.”
That mental image alone should be enough to convince anyway to say “no thank you” to down bedding.
How Silk is Made is Much Creepier Than the Worms
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.
According to Earth Divas, the silkworms used in the production of human goods have now been farmed for so long they can no longer exist in the wild.
If allowed, a silkworm would follow the natural stages of metamorphosis. However, the majority of silkworms are boiled alive or gassed inside their cocoons before they can further mature.
Wool: A “Natural” Alternative?
Once upon a time, sheep grew only enough wool to protect themselves from weather. Humans would then collect the wool the sheep would molt and use this to make clothing.
However, as with so many consumer products today – a high demand meant the development of highly questionable practices to maximize output and profit. Many sheep are now bred to continuously produce wool and live in flocks that number in the thousands, which limits their individual care.
As PETA reports, it’s considered “normal” for four percent of lambs to die every spring due to malnutrition. And while there certainly are those in the wool industry dedicated to humanely producing what is considered a natural material, separating the humane from the inhumane isn’t always easy.
Vegan Bedding Option 1: Bamboo Duvet
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, meaning it’s not only a great ethical bedding option, it’s also an eco-friendly bedding option.
Most bamboo duvets are filled with bamboo from viscose, which is essentially the wood pulp from a bamboo tree, or a similar bamboo-fibre duvet filling. Bamboo is also naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and odour resistant.
Vegan Bedding Option 2: Microfiber Duvet
Microfiber duvets are usually made from synthetic fabrics like polyester or rayon. Synthetic fabrics often come with their own set of issues (i.e.: formaldehyde is used to keep fabrics wrinkle-free and moisture-resistant).
However, microfiber tends to be the most affordable vegan duvet option, which is important when you’re on a tight budget. Sometimes you have to weigh the pros against the cons and make the best choice for you!
There are also microgel duvets, which is what I myself finally ended up getting. Like microfibre duvets, microgel duvets are often made from a man-made fabric. However, you can also find ones that are made from cotton.
Even better if you can find a microgel duvet that is Oeko-Tex certified. Then, you can rest assured beneath a duvet that contains no harmful substances – and was produced in an environmentally friendly manner.
Not a duvet person? Not a problem! You can also easily find vegan comforters, which is basically a fancy way of saying a thick blanket.
For vegan comforters, you essentially want to check what the fill is – just like with vegan duvets. Look for something that isn’t animal-derived like this microfibre comforter. An even better option as it’s more eco-friendly is this 100% bamboo comforter.
Vegan Mattresses and Pillows
If you’re also in the market for a new mattress, don’t forget to veganize it! The carbon neutral company Avocado Mattress has a vegan mattress option made with certified organic cotton instead of wool.
Plus, Avocado’s mattresses are made without the use of toxic chemicals or petroleum-based foam. A win for vegans and for planet earth! Avocado also carries vegan pillows made from kapok.
Vegan Duvet Covers
It doesn’t make sense to invest in a cruelty-free, eco-friendly duvet and not pair it with a sustainable cover and sheets. Aside from Avocado, there are some really cool, earth-conscious companies out there I definitely recommend checking out.
And finally, don’t forget to check out your local secondhand shop for gently used bedding. Depending on your stance, you might be okay with purchasing something with down, silk or wool duvet filling as long as it isn’t new.
Phew. That was a lot of talk about blankets. I think I’ll go take a nap…
Posted on January 19, 2015 (Last Updated on March 18, 2020
Former architectural technologist. Current treehugger.
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