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Goose Down, Humane?
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Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: chuckle on 01/28/2010 09:28:43 MST Print View

I'm with you here, Kutenay...

Ernie Elkins

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Goose Down, Humane? on 01/28/2010 09:42:50 MST Print View

I share your concerns, Michael, and I did a little digging a few years ago in order to better understand goose down production. What I learned didn't ease my mind, and I ended up sticking with synthetics. That's a decision that I question occasionally -- after all, down itself is an earth-friendly material that lasts longer than synthetic alternatives. Moreover, as Dewey makes clear, synthetics are clearly tied to an industry that has taken a severe toll on our environment and the creatures (human and non-human) who inhabit it. That being said, it's not as if the production of animals for food, feathers, etc. is free of this taint. Is the environmental footprint of animal production any lighter? I don't know the answer, but I don't think it's a questions we can just gloss over. Leather is natural material, but the production of leather is a nasty process that creates a significant amount of pollution. Feathers aren't processed in the same way, of course, but I wonder about the inputs/outputs that we don't immediately think about. What do geese in larger operations eat? Grains from chemical and petroleum-intensive factory farms? How is their waste disposed of? And so on...

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Goose Down, Humane? on 01/28/2010 09:54:02 MST Print View

I honestly like geese, a lot more than dogs or cats. Go ahead and laugh. I would probably have a few (just a few) as pets, but I have too many possums, coons, hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, dogs, etc... in the neighborhood. They wouldn't last a week.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
The ethics of consumption on 01/28/2010 09:58:40 MST Print View

Like the bumper sticker that says "If God hadn't wanted us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat," I suppose "If God hadn't wanted us to have goose down sleeping bags, etc." There are two separate questions--should we exploit a particular species, and if we do, shouldn't we make their lives as good as possible while they're here? So I definitely come down on the side of exploit away (which seems to be nature's way in general) but do nothing that causes unnecessary suffering--and waste as little as possible.

To that end I take very good care of my down gear

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
choice on 01/28/2010 10:35:56 MST Print View

I think this is an important consideration to engage with before deciding on any activity.

What we are doing is a hobby, afterall, not a livelihood or necessary for survival.

We human animals are empowered to make choices in our lives, something the other animals we share this planet with are not similarly empowered to do, and the choices we make have repercussions for all the other animals.

We in general have not done a very pretty job with our choices.

My own choices have been informed by examinations such as these, and I can't say I've consistently been very responsible, but I generally try to be. I still think down, when all is weighed, is preferable to synthetic fibers because of superior durability and therefore twofold less environmental footprint. But a larger consideration than the material itself is the consumption mechanism: whenver possible and with extreme bias I try to buy second-hand. Regardless of the source material, second-hand purchasing is always the most envirnomentally responsible choice, the trinity in order of value being "reduce, reuse, recycle." The more the first two are implemented, the less the third even need be a question. I have very few items in my possession that weren't once in someone else's possesion.

The other major factor that a couple people mentioned is local/regional sourcing. This is huge. We get most of our food from a local organic cooperative farm. We generally eat what grows in a given season. The little animal product we do consume is either fish/seafood caught by me or my dad, or fish/seafood sourced as locally or regionally as possible.

Someone mentioned veganism being an historically recent phenomenon. With that name, this is true. However, there have been millions of people practicing what amounts to veganism for thousands of years: I am familiar with both Hindu and Buddhist historical practices that would qualify as "vegan" by today's definition. While I am not vegan, I am inspired by the concept and the dedication of its practicioners. Perhaps I could say I'm 80% vegan, reflecting my daily behaviors averaged out over time, and it is, afterall, what we do most of the time that matters most. Perhaps a general societal approach by percentage basis of behavior instead of a more dialectical "either-or" stance would help the situation, help more behaviors be on average less negatively impacting?

Edited by cbert on 01/28/2010 10:38:24 MST.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: Goose Down, Humane? on 01/28/2010 11:07:21 MST Print View

"Biting, aggressive, squawking, pooping machines is what they are!"

That perfectly describes some people I know :-D

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
More chuckles, in a friendly manner on 01/28/2010 11:59:47 MST Print View

I would point out two issues here. The first is that some of us live where the use of cold weather clothing is NOT a mere choice as may be the case in some places. So, we have to use what works. Others, I am among these, worked where protective clothing was all you had between your tender hide and rapid death by freezing...not fun!

The Hindu and Buddhist tradtions are fine, it rather reminds me of the former Police Chief in Saignon blowing that guy's cerebral contents all over the street with a S&W Chief's Special during the Vietnam fracas....he said, "Buddha will understand"...... In short, the MOST severely polluted and destructively-impacted by human activity regions on Earth ARE these very Hindu and Buddhist areas...........

No offence intended here to anyone, but, I am not a big fan of the supposedly "superior" and "Earth friendly" Asian philosophies, as I do not see them being so, in terms of actual ecosystem impacts.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: More chuckles, in a friendly manner on 01/28/2010 12:15:20 MST Print View


Edited by ben2world on 01/28/2010 12:23:14 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Goose Down, Humane? on 01/28/2010 13:07:01 MST Print View

Problems in Asia and the rest of the world have nothing to do with religious philosophies. Over-population is the problem.

Aside from that, as an (ex) vegan for 20 years, I have thought about tis many times. It is a bad presumption to assume that geese and ducks raised either for food or down are necessarily humanely treated, and I can assure you the majority are not. At least by my standards. Eider down is probably the most humane, but Buddhist principles, at least some major branches, believe that animals should not be exploited at all...ever...for any reason. Others such as the Tibetans take a more practical approach-they would starve to death if all they had was horticultural food sources.

So there is no one answer to the question except to find a level of animal exploitation that you are comfortable with, whether that's not at all, or down only, or down and leather, or let's have the meat lover's pizza tonight ;)

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 01/28/2010 14:07:16 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 06/17/2015 20:44:16 MDT.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: ben. on 01/28/2010 14:19:29 MST Print View

"too bad you NMed it, since i would have loved to see what your response to that specious nonsense was."

Nah. Internet arguments rarely go anyplace good for either side. They tend to just lead to higher blood pressure for everyone involved, almost never change anyone's opinions, and just make everyone seem like the "squawking, biting, pooping machines" mentioned above. I applaud your restraint, Ben.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 01/28/2010 14:22:57 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 06/17/2015 20:44:49 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
philosophies on 01/28/2010 14:25:13 MST Print View

The practitioners of the conscientious, philosophical Hiduism and Buddhism that are analagous to practioners of veganism in the "West" are a minority of the population. Asia is a vast and extremely heterogenous region. Even within a single country, the practice of Hinduism or Buddhism has many different approaches,variants, sects. But those who practice the forms respectful of all animal life are indeed practicing a high ethic with regards to animal life and impacts.

It is just as possible anywhere in Asia to be indifferent and callous towards life as it is here; all humans have the power to choose to varying degrees. Some choices are limited regionally or economically, but there are still choices. Most of the Hindu and Buddhist "vegans" are not wealthy and do not live where it is particularly convenient to live as they do, but they make that choice still.

I do consider the Hindu-Buddhist genre of philosophies/religions inherently more ethical with regards to all animals than the judeo-christian-islamic genre because the former is at least inherently suggestive of compassion for all animals, whereas the latter is not. A practitioner of the former or latter may choose to practice compassion for all animals or may not, but in the case of the former, there is a significant scriptural/thematic basis within the philosophy/religion, whereas in the case of the latter, there is not.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: philosophies on 01/28/2010 14:35:02 MST Print View

And all this verbiage has to do with the G Spot how?

C'mon Roger, throw the switch! :)

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
My, my.... on 01/28/2010 14:36:27 MST Print View

How quick some are to see what is not there.....

Perhaps, we might consider the substantial effect of religious philosophies/practices ON what is termed, in WESTERN cultures, "over-population"? This reminds me of Dr. Paul Ehrlich's credo in "The Population Bomb" and his subsequent works, which were mandatory reading in my Ecology 30? course some 40 years ago.

By WESTERN standards, such as we usually employ in social commentary here in North America and in "the Antipodes", nations such as China and India ARE "over-populated" and these are the major Hindu and Buddhist societies, although not exclusively so, that is my point.

There is a certain "whiff" of fascism about "environmentalism", most especially that sort which attempts to supercede national self-determination in respect of resource development, allocation and even cultural practices. This has also been the case with religious philosophies, as in the Hispanic-Roman Catholic treatment of the South American peoples.

The POINT of all of this, is that NO specific belief system has yet found a "perfect" method of dealing with the simple biological facts of human existence. In Canada's Arctic regions, one either kills animals to eat and thus survive AND wears the skins they provide, OR, one has a HUGE "carbon footprint" due to having synthetic clothing and commercial foods flown in. Sooo, my quandary here is simply, what is BEST and should I or anyone attempt to decide for any other person, especially when I do not live where they do or as they do??????

This is a very serious concern here in Canada, especially here on the BC Coast, where major, international "environmentalist" groups have and are grossly interfering with our sovereign right to manage our wildlife, fisheries and various other resources, as we see fit.

Longterm, personal involvement in "environmentalism", government resource management agencies and private consulting firms plus an educational background that started in private, religious school, has made me VERY skeptical and inclined to question ANY philosophy that purports to be "superior" in respect of treatment of the Biosphere....including secular science and "environmentalism".

Edited by Kutenay on 01/28/2010 14:39:22 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re philosophies on 01/28/2010 14:38:13 MST Print View

Interesting how questions about humane treatment of animals come back to philosophy. I guess that makes sense because its basically a moral question and to answer that you have to define humanity's place in the world.
Regarding philosophies I would not consider the Judeo/Christian or Islamics philosophies to be less humane than Eastern ones. Again there is a lot of diversity here but I believe all three faiths have statements about treating animals appropriately, feeding them adequately etc. although that doesn't mean its always been practiced.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
compassionate basis on 01/28/2010 14:43:35 MST Print View

The basis of the difference between genres is that the J-C-I genre positions humans as the caretakers of the animals, who are seen as separate and distinctly subordinate species: only humans have a soul or an afterlife. The H-B genre, on the other hand, sets all animals in a continuum of common "souls," one soul can be a mosquito, a panda bear and the captain of the football team in various incarnations, so the basis for compassion towards other animals is more grounded in the philosophy. So, we should be nice to that grizzly bear, it might be one of our mothers in law ;)

Edited by cbert on 01/28/2010 14:44:44 MST.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
Yup on 01/28/2010 14:50:07 MST Print View

Cary, I take your point and I genuinely respect you and your opinions, I would not comment if that were not the case. But, I agree with Luke and my long-ago religious instruction STRONGLY advocated humane treatment of animals.

I am not as familiar with Hindu and Buddhist concepts as you are; I read Confucius long ago and a little bit of other Asian philosophy, so, am just going with what I see. My closest friend is an Asian guy who is a well-travelled professional in geology and minerals and he has told me a lot about the nations he visits, so, I do get current info. to some extent.

Two of my nephews are in Australia, one a Phd.-biolgist who did his post-grad. degrees there and another a specialized tradesman, who also may immigrate there. These guys send me e-mails about "Oz" and so I gbet some serious info. on that interesting place, as well.

My major concern here is that all too many people try to tell others how to adapt to the environment in places they do not know and have never lived. An old friend of mine, a Sikh professor and Oxford grad,, used to come into my bookstore and bemoan the "empty, quiet streets" of my small, mountain hometown on a Sunday. He just could NOT understand WHY we liked it that way and I could NEVER live comfortably in HIS home region, with it's dense human population........

Is the use of goosedown "humane", yes, I think it is.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: compassionate basis on 01/28/2010 14:52:12 MST Print View


As a practicing Christian -- I would bring the argument farther. We J-C-I's are custodians of this good Earth. The animals -- at least some of them -- are given to us by God as food and tools (pets, beasts of burden, mine alarm, etc.). The H-B's are as you say. In theory, animals would want to stay in H-B territory.

But that's only the theory -- and what matters is practice. Most all societies are populated with a minority of serious believers and a big majority of cultural (casual) believers. We are all human beings with some degrees of compassion. Thus, most Christians aren't purposely abusive to animals. And many Buddhists don't feel too sorry working "their" water buffaloes in the rice paddies.

Most all of us -- directly or indirectly -- take semi-care of our animals and semi-abuse them at the same time as well.

Edited by ben2world on 01/28/2010 14:57:38 MST.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
I see things more in continuum than either-or on 01/28/2010 15:02:45 MST Print View

I use goose down, but I don't consider it compassionate. Similarly, I don't consider my fishing to be ethically supportable. But I think it averages out. Down and fishing are choices I make among many, and I think that - on average - my choices balance out to being rather compassionate on the whole. So a continuum, a line diagram for those mathematically inclined, each choice sliding the marker in one direction or the other, but the marker indicating our relative aggregate point over time.

I don't have to fish. I don't have to have a sleeping bag. But life, to me, is not a matter of narrowly considering each individual choice on an absolute value. Life is (at least) three dimensional, and everything melds together into a larger composite. The fishing and backpacking engage me with places and animals and the earth in a way that I wouldn't otherwise. They are also connections to my childhood and especially with my father. So the products used in conjunction are part of a much larger whole. If I did not fish or hike, I would not be as engaged in ecological issues. The line diagram overall is improved by the domino effects of my otherwise unethical behaviors.

An intellectual aside: it is interesting, I think, that we use the word "humane" when speaking of other animals (and the inclusion of other animals in its meaning is a long institutionalized usage that is now standard), when the word originally refers to human animals.