Stand Up to Duck Down
When you realise you want to prevent the harming of animals and invest in the future of the planet, there is the question of what to do with all the old animal products you already own. The shampoo containing ground up bones (and hair and feathers and hoof and claw and horn - that's keratin, the charmer) and the jacket made from cow skin, for example.
Some go so vegan they throw all these items out. Others use them up but never purchase their sort again.
At first, I ruled that those particular animals had already suffered so I might as well keep using the face cream / shoe / jacket out of respect to the poor sod I had never considered at the time of purchase. But as the new me evolved and emerged, I felt uncomfortable wearing my old wool lined boots and writing in my old leather bound notebook. Weirdly, these were once the very factors which had drawn me to the product. Oh look it’s leather! How fancy! Brain did not put two and two together.
As much as I used to want to be seen in my fancy leather boots or snuggle under a woolly hat, now I would be aghast at the thought of a fellow guardian of the voiceless seeing me in leather or fur or wool or suede or anything that used to belong to an animal and thinking, she’s one of those humans. I want to stick my hand up and say wait, don't judge me! I have! I have thought! It only took me 34 years but now I do give a shit! Come back! My boots aren't leather and my top's not suede!
Take this gilet. (Please, take it - take it far away!)
Bought from Fat Face five years ago, it saw me through several winters. I was snug as a bug in a duck-down rug. When people complimented me on how warm and cosy I looked, I proudly informed them I was wearing duck down, without really thinking about what that meant. It was just something I knew was warm and liked to brag about. I even bought my mum the same gilet so we could be warm and cosy together. I’m so sorry, ducks.
Then, a dear friend gave me a rounders badge. I LOVE rounders. It is my favourite sport, synonymous as it is with sunshine and friends and silliness and cheering. It’s a sport for all, it’s not to be taken seriously and we play it every summer. We even requested all our wedding guests stayed an extra day for a game of rounders on our first day as husband and wife. Most of whom did, because most of whom know we’re right, rounders is epic.
It was my love for rounders that saw me pin this brilliant badge to this gilet - I wore the gilet so often I knew this would mean I’d also wear my rounders badge so often, and so often was exactly how often I was looking to show off my love of rounders.
Despite the fact the ducks had sacrificed their down already, I couldn’t look at the gilet the same way this winter. I couldn’t justify wearing it just because those ducks had already had their feathers forcibly removed for my sartorial benefit. I didn’t want to be warm because feathers were no longer where they belonged. I'd rather be cold, or warmed by synthetic alternatives, of which there are many.
So the gilet went in the big pile of things I was going to give to charity. Only, I couldn’t get my rounders badge off. It seemed welded on. Before parting ways with my gilet, I needed my damn badge back.
I didn’t want to see what the inside of my jacket actually looked like. I’d made peace with my past choices and just wanted rid of the reminders, but I had to get my badge off, which meant cutting into the jacket. During the surgical procedure, little soft white feathers floated out and I realised just how much I have had my head in the sand.
This is duck down:
Just so we’re all on the same page, the down is the finest feathers, found under the tougher exterior feathers. Baby ducks only have down, for they are waiting for their bigger feathers to grow. According to Wikipedia, the exact percentage of the world’s down plucked from live birds is uncertain, but a 2009 documentary suggests it could be as high as 80% of all down. Even if the feathers in my gilet came from dead ducks, I am still not okay with it.
Fat Face produce lots of clothes which are more vegan friendly than this. They are not a great company, they are not a vegan company, but they are a good company, in a sea of terrible high street Goliath's. All we can do is remember we are all individually powerful David's, if we all choose not to buy the metaphorical duck-down gilets of the future, companies will cease to produce products like it. We can all sow small seeds of change.
Oh look, I have a vegan badge now too, courtesy of The Vegan Kind goodie box. My two favourite things, veganism and rounders, now pinned upon my person. Ask me about my vegan badge AND my rounders badge. ASK ME!