Who would have thought that the beautiful, luxurious fabric, silk, could cause any amount of cruelty? Unfortunately it does. Conventional silk is produced by boiling or steaming the intact silkworm cocoon while the worm is still alive inside, killing the worm. It is then stranded onto reels. This is done so that the silk fibers are not broken and can be reeled off in a continuous strand. If the worm is allowed to live out it’s full term in the cocoon it will secrete an alkali fluid that causes a hole in the cocoon so that it can fly away, causing the single strand to be broken into many and causing a slight colour change to the fibers.
To make one pound of the finest silk, 2600 silkworms must die.
However, this is an unnecessary process. Silk can still be spun, rather than reeled, like other fibers if the moths are allowed to emerge. “Peace silk’ or cruelty-free silk allows the silkworm to live out its full life cycle and emerge from their cocoons as moths. The silk is then degummed and spun like any other fiber. The resulting yarn is soft and fluffy like a cloud.
There are also different types of silkworms. The most desirable silk comes from the mulberry silkworm, which is known as the Bombyx mori to entomologists. This silkworm has been completely domesticated for thousands of years. However, there are also ‘wild’ silkworms such as the Saturniidae silkworm from Thailand that are allowed to live complete and natural lives in the wild, with the abandoned cocoons being collected later.
All very interesting!
For more info see this story: Facts behind the Fibers at http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_weblog/2007/03/raw_organic_sil.html
For an interesting view point on why peace silk is still not entirely cruelty-free, visit this site:
To find ‘Peace’ silk, visit these websites:
Love & Blessings,