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In animals

By Tina

National Vegetarian Week – The Silkworm

On 23, May 2013 | No Comments | In animals, textiles | By Tina

Hi everyone. This week is National Vegetarian Week (20 – 26 May) and I’d like to highlight the plight of the humble silkworm.

Silk is such a beautiful, natural material but did you know that it is made with much cruelty?

Silkworm image Shutterstock

Silkworm image Shutterstock

Silk comes from the mulberry silkworm (bombyx mori caterpillar). These creatures are reared in captivity and cannot exist in the wild because they are so dependent on humans.

Silkworms spin a cocoon (or chrysalis) in order to turn into moths. The cocoon is made from raw silk.  The moth releases enzymes to make a hole in the cocoon but this destroys the silk. So the cocoons are boiled alive, killing the moth and making it easier to unravel the silk.

An average of 2500-3000 cocoons are needed to make one yard of silk!

So that silk scarf doesn’t look so beautiful, after all?


So, what can be done?

There are alternatives. Peace or Ahimsa Silk allows the moth to emerge from their cocoons before the cocoon is used.
However the whole domestication of the bombyx mori is cruel. The moth cannot fly and is kept in crowded incubators. It has also been heavily genetically modified.

A better alternative is Wild Silk or Fair Trade Ahimsa silk. Wild caterpillars live a natural life free from human interference; producers gather the empty cocoons only. 

Also there are alternatives.  Ingeo, made from corn, and Tencel, made from wood pulp, both resemble silk.

And the artificial alternatives; nylon, polyester and rayon.

I hope you choose an alternative to silk

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