"Paying 3x as much (or however much it is) for "ethically sourced" down is probably not the most efficient way use your money..."
I think Carl said that the Tundra sleeping bag was actually cheaper than the Western Mountaineering alternative.
Avery, I like your credit idea in that it would encourage people to support causes that I approve of, but I'm not sure that I agree with your assessment that the credit system would be more "efficient" (more good deed for less dough, I assume).
If I spend $250 on a more ethical sleeping bag, rather than $200 on a less ethical one, then the good business just got a $250 sale and the less good business got nothing. If, instead, I buy the $200 less ethical sleeping bag and send $10 to the Humane Society, then the good business gets nothing, the less good business gets a $200 sale, $4 of my Humane Society donation goes to HS administration, staffing, and advertising, and $6 funds a very tiny part of a campaign to distribute brochures that promote the benefits of spaying and neutering pets. In 2011, the Humane Society spent about $28 million of the $46 million in funds (60%) on its mission and $18 million (40%) on administrative costs, advertising, etc.
I donate to charities, but I think we have far more power to actually mitigate threats to the environment by our purchasing choices. Our behavior as consumers sends a direct message to companies in a language that they understand. They are dying to know what we want to buy, and every penny we spend is of interest to them. Charitable donations, on the other hand, OFTEN go to relatively impotent and inefficient organisations that have minimal power to influence commercial practices.
Tom, do you vote? What? You do? Well, fine. Go ahead, if you think it makes any difference. What about your health? Ever make an effort to eat anything healthy? Cuz one lima bean is not going to make any difference by itself. But, do whatever you like, if it soothes your angst. I agree with you, actually: if you have to do something more than once to make a difference, or if more than one person has to do it, then why do it at all?