Ask Ignacio: Coats

December 2013

What is the most sustainable coat I can buy?
-Chilly Santa

First and foremost, I want to point out that the most sustainable coat is one you already own. If you already have a coat, wear it, don’t buy another coat because your current coat doesn’t have any sustainability features. The most sustainable thing you can do is to not buy new stuff.

That being said, if you need a coat check out your local thrift shop: Encore in Hyde Park, Brown Elephant in Lakeview, etc.

If you are still set on getting a new coat, then here you go.

New Coats

The primary concern here is materials:

Organic & Recycled

As I’ve discussed in previous Ask Ignacio columns it is very difficult to compare organic to recyclable synthetics. There are environmental benefits to both.
If possible try to get the cotton parts of your coat certified organic. If your coat is going to be completely synthetic, make sure it has some recycled content or the coat itself is recyclable. For example, Patagonia has a fleece made of old water bottles.


There are strong feelings regarding goose and duck down, but the fact that it is very warm and retains its volume better than any other viable material cannot be disputed. If you wish to get a down coat there are a few good options.

Pre-loved down (down feathers without the quills) is a great way to reuse and has a price tag to match. This high-quality product can be cleaned and remain perky for decades.

Nest harvested down is collected from the nests of molting geese or ducks. Some ducks use their own feathers to line their nests, in such cases the feathers are replaced with hay to keep the eggs warm. You can tell your friends, “No birds were harmed in the making of this coat.”

If you decide to purchase down, at least avoid live plucked down. Live plucked means exactly what you think, they rip the feathers off while the bird is still alive. Companies like Patagonia, IKEA, and Marks and Spencer have all completely removed live plucked down from their products.


I know what you guys are thinking, “Ignacio, you are such a paragon of sustainability, what coat do you wear?”

I actually have a recycled polyester winter jacket. Not because it is the most sustainable option, but it is affordably sustainable. Sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive.

Don’t forget to review last year’s holiday tree article.

To paraphrase the most interesting man in the world, stay toasty my friends.