Recycled down - a new ethical trend?
Text: Anna Plaszczyk, photos: press release
2 October 2020
Recycled down is a new trend in outdoor clothing. This year, two global brands have decided to add to their offer jackets filled with feathers, recycled from old duvets and pillows. In this way, companies make efforts to limit their cooperation with breeders of ducks and geese, and they process waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills or incinerators.More and more often ethical dimension of down clothing is being mentioned. Production of down, which is placed inside jackets and sleeping bags, is getting controversial. It is about plucking live animals, which, during this process, are very often seriously harmed. Even if they didn’t get mutilations - still this process is very painful and can exceptionally cause a large amount of stress among animals.
The manufacturers of outdoor clothing explain that down is a by-product of the meat industry. International outdoor brands such as The Nord Face or Patagonia, have introduced a high level of control of down suppliers in order to reduce unnecessary suffering of ducks and geese. Yet, animal protection organizations are still alarming that this is not enough to make downy products ethical. However, Spanish Ternua and American company Nau have gone a step further. This year they have added recycled down clothing to their collection. Both companies offer jackets filled with feathers "recycled" from old duvets and pillows. But does the recycled down really make the outdoor clothing become more ethical and sustainable?
Manufacturers who recycle down from duvets and pillows claim that thanks to it new animals do not suffer, but also environmental pollution is reduced. Thanks to this solution the amount of waste placed on landfills or incinerators is decreasing. The process of cleaning and processing of the old down is almost identical just like the process of cleaning and processing of new feathers. Besides, feathers recycling is nothing new. For decades, people have been recycling feathers from old duvets and pillows, because this filling was very expensive and difficult to access. At the end of XX-th century, due to the rapid development of consumerism, recycling of old feathers from duvets and pillows became not only "unnecessary", but actually - not recommended, because it was associated with a lack of money to buy a new product.
Nowadays, the outdoor brands return to the good tradition to extend the life of the material and transform it in accordance with upcycling principle into things more valuable than the original ones. The brands that have invested in down recycling, want to gain an advantage over the competition, by winning the title of the most ecological and ethical ones. This way, they are creating a new trend in the development of the whole industry.
Nau is one of the first clothing companies, which decided to use recycled down in its clothing. In its latest collection, the company from Portland is launching six new models of clothing filled with recycled down. Nau collection- Recycled Down, with recycled down, are very soft, very durable and waterproof clothes with sealed seams. The collection contains two short down jackets for women, one short down jacket for male and three coats - two for women and one for male. COPENHAGEN RECYCLED DOWN TRENCH model was awarded with Gear of the Year 2015 National Geographic Adventure.
At the manufacturers website you can read: Any opportunity to extend the life of a raw material is always our first choice in moving toward more sustainable solutions. Thats why when we came across a partner who could provide us with recycled down, we couldn’t have been more excited. Starting with our Fall 2015 collection, all of our 650-fill jackets will use recycled down.) A manufacturer collects and sorts used pillows and duvets on the outskirts of Paris. Then they are sent to the plant in Hungary, where the quality of down is being checked. After that, down is sorted, washed and sterilized. The process is exactly the same as in case of a new down. In this way, clothes have the same parameters like with new down. This innovative idea has allowed company to give up new 650 down filling.
Spanish Ternua proposes, in its autumn collection, clothing filled with recycled feathers, reinforced with hydrophobic properties. Ternua is a pioneer in the usage of recycled down which were supposed to be no longer used.In the environmentally friendly process, requiring no harmful chemicals, recycled down is collected and purified so that it can be used once again in new products. Just like new feathers, Neokdun is a very effective insulator, but it quickly loses its insulating properties when it gets wet. By using Nikwax PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) on each fibre of feather, the best, natural insulation against water is being produced. It maintains feathers dry and fluffy, so they are able to retain warmth even in wet conditions. In the latest collection, Ternua offers three models of jackets filled with recycled down: Ladakh300, Ladakh 160 and Quantum. The first two models have bluesign.