To assist you in becoming a more knowledgeable customer, our sourcing team took the time to compile the four most fascinating (and unexpected) facts about silk.
Mulberry silk is the preferred silk type for expensive dresses and bedding, and if you’ve been looking into how to identify the highest-quality fabric, you’ve undoubtedly come across this fact. However, how exactly is mulberry silk produced, and is it ethical or environmentally friendly?
The fact that silk is not by nature an animal-friendly fabric may surprise you. It can be shocking to learn that we don’t actually understand the fabrics we’re wearing or sleeping on as well as we thought, especially with something as well-known and opulent as silk.
Let’s find out.
Also, you should know:
Is Mulberry Silk Ethical?
while this popular type of silk is the go-to fabric for nearly all silk textiles, one key question remains: Is mulberry silk morally acceptable?
Given that it’s both an animal product and a material that is exclusively produced in developing countries like China and India, there are some important ethical considerations we need to make…
The treatment of the insect upon which mulberry silk depends, the common mulberry silkworm, is one of the main ethical problems with mulberry silk.
- Boiled Alive
The silkworm is trapped inside the harvested cocoons and is inevitably killed when they are boiled in water to be unraveled. According to PETA, approximately 3,000 silkworms perish in order to produce one pound of silk, which translates to billions of them dying each year.
Although some people think that insects like silkworms and silkmoths don’t experience pain or are even intelligent, these species have a central nervous system that reacts to stimuli from the environment, including pain.
Mulberry silkworms have also been domesticated for thousands of years, rendering them totally incapable of surviving in the wild. Sadly, they have been bred to produce silk more easily and have been denied a natural life cycle.
For instance, adult mulberry silkworms can no longer fly like their wild counterparts, which prevents males from finding a mate on their own.
These unethical practices exacerbate the problem of animal cruelty in the fashion industry, making conventional silk unsuitable for vegans and customers who want to steer clear of goods derived from the exploitation of animals.
Impact on Local Communities
We must also consider the individuals who produced the finished fabric when determining whether mulberry silk is ethical.
Mulberry silk is primarily produced in India, China, and Southeast Asia, where sericulture—the production of silk—is vital to hundreds of rural communities.
Despite the fact that the industry has helped many people escape poverty, widespread exploitation occurs: according to a CNN report, workers in India are forced to work in slave-like conditions in order to pay off debt.
In addition, frequent contact with boiling water and inhaling carbon monoxide can cause eye and skin problems. The situation is made worse by the discovery of child labor in the Uzbek and Indian silk industries.
It is best to look for organic silk manufacturers who are open about what happens in their factories (although they still boil the silkworm) if customers want to support silk farmers without funding unethical labor practices.
Can Silk Be Produced Ethically?
A growing number of people are becoming aware of how their silk products are made, and ethical mulberry silk is becoming more well-liked. However, the sericulture process has some ethical shortcomings.
Ahimsa silk, also known as “peace silk”, is usually the first alternative that comes to mind when talking about cruelty-free silk.
The discarded cocoons of mulberry silkworms, which are not boiled alive but instead allowed to change into moths, are used to create mulberry peace silk. It feels a little rougher because the threads are shorter because the moth was allowed to break the cocoon.
Although Ahimsa silk producers continue to kill their silkmoths, a Beauty Without Cruelty report claims they do. Male moths are kept in a refrigerator until they are no longer able to reproduce, while female moths are kept in captivity to lay eggs.
The creation of wild silk, which includes the Eri variety of silk, also enables wild moths to leave their cocoons before gathering the threads.
The manner in which the cocoons are harvested and whether manufacturers actually wait until the silkworms have finished their metamorphosis before using their cocoons are currently unknown.
For ethical consumers, purchasing deadstock silk or bamboo silk is a great substitute to avoid directly supporting the industry.
Bamboo fibers are used to create organic, untreated, lightweight, and ultra-soft bamboo silk. This turns it into a sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free, and biodegradable alternative!
Cupro, which is produced from cotton plant waste, is another excellent silk substitute. Although it costs much less, it mimics silk’s characteristics. Since there is no independent certification attesting to the practices behind the marketing, it is still very difficult to find genuine ethical mulberry silk.
Why is Natural Mulberry Silk Considered Eco-Friendly?
In a minute, you are going to learn 5 ways in which mulberry silk is considered to be eco-friendly.
Reduces Carbon Footprint
In comparison to mulberry silk, the production of synthetic materials and even cotton leaves a much larger carbon footprint. Silk can be used to create low-impact dyes in addition to assisting with carbon footprint reduction in terms of the silk material itself.
Accordingly, silk contributes to eco-friendly fabric coloring, which helps you further reduce your carbon footprint.
Mulberry silk’s biodegradability is another benefit for the environment. It is not only a fabric that degrades naturally but also one that is incredibly strong. Ironically for such a soft and hospitable fabric, this type of silk is strong.
Purchasing high-quality products is a great way to go green, according to experts at the environmentally friendly online retailer Buy Eco Wise.
Silk is biodegradable, so it can even be used to make compost or mulch to give back to the environment. The environment is harmed by the needless disposal of numerous other fabrics, which are left in landfills for years.
Mulberry silk was noted for its strength and durability, which is yet another factor supporting the notion that it is an environmentally friendly substance. But what you don’t know yet is that mulberry silk is not only resilient but it’s also regarded as one of the most resilient natural fibers available.
For illustration, you can anticipate mulberry silk bedding to last up to 20 years. However, as a result of the use of natural resources in production, fewer of them are needed to maintain current levels of production.
The production of silk has a carbon footprint that is almost zero, and silkworm farming is very sustainable. Mulberry silk is among the most sustainable materials because it satisfies global fabric production standards.
Advances Sustainability of the Mulberry Trees
One mulberry tree provides food for about 100 silkworms. As a result, one acre of trees can feed enough silkworms to yield up to 35 pounds of raw mulberry silk. Mulberry trees are more sustainable thanks to silk farming because they provide food for the silkworms.
Conclusion: Is Mulberry Silk Ethical?
People would seek out wild, peace, tussah, or certified organic silk to reduce the environmental impact of the silk they wear. In order to choose fabric produced in a factory with water treatment protocols, try to shop with brands that have transparent supply chains if you’re buying conventional silk.