Light as air with warmth that adjusts to our internal thermostats, down and feather is a part of our lives. Down and feather is an important and popular part of our lives because it is natural, environmentally recyclable and its manufacture requires a far lower carbon footprint than synthetic materials that keep us warm. Natural … warm … green.
Down is the soft undercoating of waterfowl, which is comprised of individual down fibers that are connected to one another at a central point.
Underdeveloped down made up of soft fluffy barbs radiating from a sheath, is called Nestling down. Nestling down does not have quills.
Plumage consisting of soft quills and barbs.
A group of components including down, nestling down and plumules.
Feathers and down are tested to determine what species of bird they come from.
Fill power is a measure of loft, or the insulation ability of down products in cubic inches per ounce. The higher the number, the more fill power there is.
Oxygen number indicates product cleanliness. Down and feathers are soaked and agitated in a solution of pure water, which is then measured for organic material. The lower the number the better, the cleanest samples measure 1.6-3.2, the highest number allowed is 10.
Turbidity helps determine if dust or dirt (organic and inorganic) is present in the down and feather. A sample of down or feathers is soaked and agitated in pure water, the water is then measured for clarity. U.S. and European standards require a result of at least 300 mm. Very clean samples register at 550 mm or higher.
The thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric, measured at least five times and then the results are averaged together. Two-ply yarns are counted as one thread and may not be used to double thread count. Generally, the higher the thread count is, the more down-proof the fabric.
Given the wide range of down and feather products offered in the marketplace today, consumers should always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions provided with the product.
If you plan on cleaning your down and feather products at home, make sure that you use a washing machine that does not have a center agitator, as this can damage the down pockets in your bedding, clothing, or outdoor gear.
To re-fluff your product, place it in the dryer on low heat with a few new tennis balls. The tennis balls will fluff the product as they tumble dry. This keeps the down and feather filling from clumping while it dries.
Please note, tennis balls have the ability to break zippers and buttons on garments, be sure to monitor closely.
Down and feather is the environmentally friendly choice for bedding, apparel and outdoor gear. It
- Is biodegradable – As a natural product it decomposes and goes back to the earth;
- Conserves resources – As a by-product of the food industry, no resources are going to waste, and no byproducts are being put into landfills;
- Is renewable – Synthetic fill materials are often composed of non-renewable resources like oil, whereas down and feathers are renewable resources.
Overall, down and feather products require a lower carbon footprint to produce than synthetics.
- Because down and feather is nature’s best insulator, down and feather comforters provide sleepers with the added warmth necessary to significantly turn down their thermostats at night, thereby saving on energy bills.
- Down and feather is long lasting and only needs to be fluffed up to keep its loft and its insulating ability for bedding, apparel and sleeping bags does not diminish.
Down and feather is the sustainable choice for bedding, apparel and outdoor gear. As a byproduct of the global meat poultry industry, it is estimated that over 175 million kg of feathers are produced and traded each year. These feathers are biodegradable, a conservative resource and renewable.
In order to test the environmental footprint of down and feather, the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB) commissioned Long Trail Sustainability, an independent third-party organization that specializes in Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), to conduct an LCA of down compared to polyester fill.
The LCA tested the impact of down versus polyester in 5 environmental areas: human health, ecosystems, resources, cumulative energy demand and climate change. On a per ton basis, down has between 85% - 97% lower impacts than polyester in all the impact categories analyzed, and has 18 times less of an impact on climate change than polyester fill.
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