One Warm Coat

  My winter coat has served me well, from east coast blizzards to the gardens of Versailles.

My winter coat has served me well, from east coast blizzards to the gardens of Versailles.

This post originally appeared back in 2013. With winter approaching, I thought it deserved a revivial, complete with updated suggestions on where to shop for an ethically-made coat.

On the coziness scale, wrapping yourself up in a nice wool coat ranks right up there with a hot toddy and a Golden Girls marathon. I bought my first good black pea coat before a trip to Philadelphia and New York, where my husband and I found ourselves caught in Snowmageddon 2010. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful for my coat's substantial lining and generous hood.

Experiences like an east coast blizzard also remind me of how difficult winter can be for those who don’t have a warm coat to shield them from the elements. Which is where organizations like One Warm Coat come in.

One Warm Coat is a volunteer organization that grew from a Thanksgiving weekend coat drive in San Francisco in 1992. Now a nationwide initiative, One Warm Coat provides tools, resources, and publicity support to volunteer groups across North America. Their goal is simple: collect coats to give to those in need, free of charge.

Providing a coat may seem like a small gesture when necessities like food, shelter, and vaccines are also sorely needed, but the facts that OWC provides on its website are compelling:

  • 1 in 5 children live in households whose earnings fall below the poverty level in the U.S.  
  • 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year.
  • Even a 2-degree drop in body temperature results in reduced heart rate, loss of coordination, and confusion. Adults cannot work effectively and children find it difficult to learn. For the nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a warm winter coat is a budget “extra.” 

(U.S. Census data September 2016 and Hypothermia, University of Maryland Medical Center)

The bottom line is that a good, warm coat isn’t cheap. I’m a huge advocate of spending a little more on well-made clothing that will last for years, but for many people that simply isn’t an option. 

How you can help


In the market for a new coat?   

After donating your gently used coat, consider investing in one of these ethically sourced beauties:

  1.  Women's Insulated Prairie Dawn Parka, Patagonia - Organic cotton, recycled polyester, and transparent supply chain.
  2. Los Ojos Trench Cloak, Linsday Thornburg and Pendleton - Made sustainably in the USA (see Pendleton’s stance on social responsibility).
  3. Slim Duffle Coat, Gloverall - Made in the UK
  4. ELDA Wool & Recycled Poly Coat, Komodo - Organic/ recycled,
  5. Winter Coat, Indigenous - Alpaca and wool, fair trade, low-impact dyes