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I have been researching organic comforters for my family. However, I found out that most comforters have fillings made of down, wool or silk. The problem with these natural materials such as down, wool or silk is that they involve animal cruelty. Down is considered to be one of the best materials for comforters since it has the best thermal properties and at the same time it offers the best fluffiness. However, so many innocent animals suffer when we choose these materials. Where could we find an organic comforter that is also cruelty free? There are down alternatives such as organic cotton or polester fiber fill. There are also other options if you would like to still choose down, wool or silk materials. In this post, I share with you what ethical, cruelty-free materials that are also non toxic, are available for comforters.
Comforter Filling Materials
Comforters are made with filling and an outer shell covering. For a comforter’s inner filling, down, wool, silk, cotton, polyester can be used. Most popular material choices, down, wool and silk are obtained from animals or insects. The outer shells of comforters can be made with cotton, polyester, polyester/ cotton blends or silk. Let’s take a look at each materials to see if any of the materials can contain harmful chemicals and also involve inhumane animal cruelty.
Down is fine feathers found as undercoat on the belly of duck or goose under the exterior feathers. Down comforters are light and breathable. They also provide good warmth and superb insulation. They have an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio. However, down can be sourced from unethical farms that conduct animal cruelty practices. The animal cruelty can be done while raising and harvesting down from ducks or geese. Some down feathers are plucked from live birds. This practice puts innocent birds in intolerable pain while plucked alive. Birds are also stitched without anesthetic when flesh wounds from the plucking occurs. This is known to happen in Poland, Hungary and China. Poland and Hungarian goose down is considered to be the finest quality down due to the larger down clusters with higher fill power. Live-plucked down has higher fill power around 800 to 900. 80% of the world’s down comes from China, and much of the rest from Eastern Europe. Most of times we don’t really know where the down feathers come from. Down feathers may be sourced from areas that do not feel any empathy for animals. According to People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), once feathers are ripped out, many of the birds, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping wounds and some even die as a result of the procedure. Live-plucked geese are typically kept alive longer so they can be plucked several times. Down is also a by-product of the meat industry and goose are often forced-fed to grow their liver a lot bigger and fatter than normal for foie gras. Ducks and Geese are forced-fed 13-17 days several times a day to enlarge the liver to 10 times( or 1000%) its usual volume. This impairs liver function and cause health problems. Continuation of forced feeding can cause death.
The best way to minimize this animal cruelty is not to use a down material. However, if you choose to use a down comforter, take a look at where down was sourced and by what method. There are some down certifications that certify down is not sourced from live plucking or from birds involved in forced-feeding.
Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
Responsible Down Standard (RDS) prohibits any removal of down and feathers from live birds such as live-plucking. It also prohibits forced-feeding and set standards for holistic respect for animal welfare of the birds from hatching to slaughter. Standards include birds’ right to have five freedoms including freedoms from freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; to express normal behavior; and from fear and distress. However, PETA has reported that some RDS certified down suppliers were linked to birds plucked alive. Some slaughterhouses and suppliers were processing certified down together with non-certified down that come from force-fed or live-plucked geese. Same farm raising birds under the ethical standards while also raising live-plucked birds (parallel production) is no longer allowed by RDS. However, RDS slaughter houses and RDS down processors can carry certified and non-certified down, as long as they are clearly labeled and separated by space and/or time. Responsible Down Standard (RDS) covers apparel, home, and outdoor goods.
DOWNPASS certification prohibits live plucking and foie gras production. Birds’ breeding conditions are also monitored. The DownPass standard concentrates on bedding. DownPass has a zero tolerance standard. According to the DOWNPASS 2017, the mixing of audited filling materials with other down and feathers is also prohibited to guarantee the adherence of the Zero Tolerance Standard. They make control visits to the duck and goose farms. Auditors monitor the rearing conditions and keeping of the animals several times a year with announced and unannounced inspections. The inspections take place worldwide including China, Poland, Hungary, France or any other countries of origin. DownPass certification is predominantly used in bedding industry.
Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS)
Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS) certifies down products come from a responsible source that respects animal welfare and can be transparently traced. Both forced feeding and live plucking is prohibited. Bird’s five freedoms are respected in their standard. Global Traceable Down Standard mainly covers apparel.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is one of the world’s best-known labels for textiles tested for harmful substances. Every component of a textile article including every thread, button, linings, zippers and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances. The prints and coatings applied to the outer material are also tested for harmful substances.
RDS or DownPass Down Comforters
Below are down comforters with RDS or DownPass Certifications. They all have 100% cotton cover casing. It wasn’t easy to find RDS or DownPass comforters that are also GOTS certified for their organic cotton casing. However, all of the RDS or DownPass comforters below are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified which tests for harmful chemicals.
APSMILE Luxury All Season Goose Down Comforter Full/Queen Size Duvet Insert
Cover: 100% Natural Scoured, Unbleached, Undyed Organic Cotton Cover (1200 Thread Count)
Filling: Responsibly harvested DOWNPASS down clusters and feathers. The goose down duvet insert is purified and sterilized by ECO treatment.
Fill Power: 650 +
Certifications: OCS, OEKO-TEX Standard 100, DOWNPASS, BSCI, Sedex
Globon Fusion Goose Down Comforter
Cover: 100% Cotton
Filling: Mixture material, 51/49 blend of high quality white DownPass goose down with the most down-like material named cocoon which is a high-tech innovation of ADVANSA in Germany
Certifications: OEKO-TEX Standard 100, DOWNPASS,
SHEONE King Size Luxurious Goose Down Comforter
Cover: 100% Cotton
Filling: RDS and DownPass Certified Down
Fill Power: 750 +
Certifications: OKEO-TEX Standard 100, Responsible Down Standard (RDS), DownPass
HOMBYS White Stripe Down Comforter
Cover: 100% Cotton Cover (1000 Thread Count)
Filling: RDS Certified Goose Down
Certifications: Responsible Down Standard (RDS), OEKO-Tex, BSCI
Wool comes from sheep. However, sheep can go through inhumane, cruel treatment while being raised and wool is collected. During shearing process, sheep is often punched, beat, dragged, kicked, stomped on by a shearer. Their skin or body parts can get cut during shearing and wounds are stitched up without any pain killers. Some sheep die or get killed by a shearer during this procedure. Sheep goes through other inhumane treatments such as sheep-dipping, muelsing, having ears hole-punched, having tails chopped off, and being castrated without any painkillers.
Also, although wool is a natural material, it goes through pesticides and harsh chemical processing. Therefore, it could have harmful toxic chemical residues on wool when you purchase wool products. Sheep dip is performed on sheep to prevent lies, fleas, lice, and mites on their coats. In sheep dipping, sheep is completely immersed in liquid formulation of toxic insecticide and fungicide with their heads held under with a crook. When sheep accidentally ingest this toxic liquid dip solution, they can experience vomiting, muscle twitching developing to incoordination, bacterial infection, excessive salivation and tears, paralysis, difficulty in breathing, collapse and death.
Raw wool fibers also have to go through scouring with wetting agents, detergents, emulsifiers to remove fat, minerals, suint and plant material. Some of the detergents and chemicals used in scouring are toxic to our environment, animals and humans. Some of them are endocrine disruptors. Wool can also go through toxic bleaches, dyes, finish treatments such as stain-resistant, shrink-resistant, insect resistant, etc. After all these chemical pesticides and processing, wool can have toxic chemical residues which can be harmful to our health.
Wool, on the other hand, has its advantages. Wool regulates your body temperature. Therefore, wool comforters keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool is also hypoallergenic, fire resistant and dust mite resistant. However, wool can be sourced from farms that practice animal cruelty and from manufacturers that use harsh chemical processing. If you still want to use wool products, you can look for below certifications.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
One way to avoid these toxic chemicals are choosing GOTS certified organic wool. GOTS is the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres. GOTS certified organic wool does not use toxic chemicals and treatments. Manufacturers also have to meet environmental and social criteria. However, GOTS certification doesn’t mean wool is animal cruelty-free.
Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)
Just like down, there is Responsible Wool Standard Certification for wool products. Farmers would have to meet animal welfare and land management requirements to get certified. Animal welfare organization, PETA says RWS is not enough and the standard should be more strict and effective by inspecting farms unannounced and having more recurring farm inspections, etc. Textile Exchange, on the other hand, says the RWS sets a global benchmark that enables companies to buy wool that meets better animal welfare and land management criteria. The RWS is not a guarantee but at least you have a choice to choose over wool that is guaranteed to face animal cruelty.
Ethical Wool Comforters
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find RWS certified wool comforters. However, I have found a comforter by PlushBeds and the comforter uses eco-wool which is free of harmful chemicals and is sourced from sheep treated humanely. Eco-wool also uses stainable land management practices.
PlushBeds Natural Luxury Handmade Wool Comforter
Cover: Certified Organic Cotton Sateen
Filling: 100% Chemical and Cruelty-Free Eco Wool. No Carbonizing, no chemical crimping, no bleaching, no dipping, no harmful shearing, and no muelsing are used.
Made In: USA
Silk is obtained from cocoons made by silkworms. The quality of silk depends on whether cocoon threads are in tact without any holes or breakage. When a silk moth is ready to fly away from its cocoon, it makes spit and pokes holes in the cocoon to fly away. This means the threads in the cocoon will have breakage or holes so the only way to obtain the cocoon in tact is by boiling the cocoon with the silkworm moth still inside. According to PETA, approximately 3,000 silkworms are killed to make every pound of silk.
Peace Silk (Ahimsa Silk)
Peace silk (Ahimsa Silk) is a kind of silk that allows the silkworm moth to emerge and fly away before harvesting the cocoon. No-violence silk takes longer to produce so it costs twice the price of regular silk.
GOTS Certified Silk
If you would like to ensure no harmful chemicals or treatments are used on silk, you can look for GOTS certified silk. This means silkworms are fed with mulberry tree leaves from organic agriculture with no pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
4. Organic Cotton
Cotton is cruelty free, vegan material. It is also natural, breathable, and hypoallergenic. Cotton, on the other hand, uses more pesticides than any other crops. Cotton also goes through harsh chemical processing from bleaching, dyeing, finishing, etc. and can use toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates, tolune, perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS), pentachlorophenols (PCP), dichloromethane (DCM), polybrominated diphenyl ethers ( PBDE’s). Conventional cotton uses also a lot of water and energy, and also pollutes our environment.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
One way to avoid toxic, harsh chemicals and pesticides is to use certified organic cotton. Organic cotton that is not certified can still go through toxic chemical processing. Cotton may be grown organically but may go through the same chemical processing as the conventional cotton. Organic certification ensures no toxic chemicals are used at all stages of an organic product from raw materials to labeling. GOTS certified organic products would also have to meet social and environmental criteria. GOTS is the most respected global certified organic cotton standard.
USDA Organic certified products contain 95 percent or more organic ingredients. USDA Organic certification prohibits harmful chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs used growing organic ingredients. The certification applies to textile products made from organically grown fibres.
Organic Cotton Comforters
Rawganique Texas Handmade 100% Organic Cotton Comforter
Cover: USDA-Certified Organic 100% Organic Cotton.
Chemical-free. Sweatshop-free. No Fire Retardants.
Not treated or processed in anyway. No dioxin. No formaldehyde.
Filling: USDA-Certified Organic 100% Plant-Based Organic Cotton Fill
Made In: Hand made in USA
Organic Lifestyle Organic Cotton Comforter
Cover: 100% USDA certified organic cotton sateen case
Filling: 100% USDA certified organic, American grown long fiber cotton batting
Made In : USA
5. Polyester Fiber Batting
Polyester is cruelty free since it is man-made. However, it is a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum. Polyester polymers are created by chemically reacting a lot of little molecules (monomers) together to make one long molecule. These long molecules are polymers. Some monomers used are carcinogens. Polyester also goes through harsh chemical treatments such as bleaching, dyeing, and finishing. Cotton polyester blends, for example, are often treated with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen to prevent material from shrinking. Some volatile monomers in polyester can also off-gas and get absorbed by wet skin. Polyester is also not breathable and it doesn’t absorb sweats. Therefore, it is not ideal as an everyday bedding material. However, it is a popular choice since it is very affordable and easy to clean.
Microfiber is also a man-made fiber. Its diameter is so fine that it is smaller than hair or silk. Since microfiber is a synthetic material, it doesn’t involve animal cruelty. However, microfiber is a petroleum-based synthetic material. The most common types of microfibers are made from polyesters, polyamides such as nylon, or a combinations of polyester, polyamide, and polypropylene. Polyester, nylon and polypropylene are derived from petrochemicals. Petrochemicals and their derivatives are harmful, some chemicals are carcinogens. As I mentioned earlier, some chemical compounds from polyester can off-gas and get absorbed by wet skin. Microfiber made from polyester and nylon are also not biodegradable. In addition, microfibers get released during wash and pollutes our ocean. Microfibers account for 85% of man-made debris found on shorelines worldwide. Microfiber comforters offer softness and comfort. However, they are made of synthetic chemicals which can contain harmful chemicals.
Sheep, ducks, geese and silk worms can go through agonizing pain and suffering for down, wool and silk materials. Some of the animal cruelty practices are banned in United States but some animal cruelty also happen in animal farms in America. These materials may also predominately come from certain countries since these countries produce and export these materials the most in the world. They may come from countries that animal cruelty is not prohibited. The most effective way to eliminate animal cruelty is not to use these materials at all so that we can end needs for these materials. If there is no demand, there will be no animal farms and no animals’ suffering. However, for products like comforters which use down or wool as most popular materials, some people may still prefer down or wool over down or wool alternatives. Some people may like the attributes that down, wool or silk have. Some people may not like some down or wool alternative materials such as polyester or microfiber since they can be harmful to our health. I was glad to see there are some responsible, ethical certifications of these materials to eliminate inhumane treatment to these animals. These certifications may not be the perfect answers to animal cruelty. However, I hope that if you do choose down, wool or silk materials, make a conscious choice to choose materials that are not harvested from animals who had to suffer. Majority of down, wool or silk products are not responsible or ethical material certified now. However, if down, wool or silk materials continue to be in demand, hopefully, majority of these materials are ethically sourced in the near future. After researching comforters for this post, I have decided on organic cotton comforters for my family.
If you are interested in organic pillows, please read my post, ‘Organic Pillows – Which Organic Pillow Material Is Best?‘
If you are interested, how mattresses can be toxic, please read my post, ‘Non Toxic Mattress Guide – Chemical-Free, Organic Mattress‘.
If you are interested in non toxic, solid wood platform bed frames, please read my post ‘Solid Wood Bed Frame – What To Look For When Buying A Solid Wood Platform Bed‘.
If you are interested in non toxic cookware, please read my post, ‘Non Toxic Cookware Guide – What Is The Healthiest And Safest Cookware?‘
For non toxic sofa companies that you can shop from, please read my post, ‘Non Toxic Sofa Guide – Which Sofa Brand Is Non Toxic?‘
If you want to find out which bottled water brands are safe, please read my post ‘Safe Bottled Water Guide: Which Bottled Water Brands Are Safe?‘