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The Dark and Disturbing World of Silk

The Dark and Disturbing World of Silk

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on June 21, 2013. Enjoy!

It’s pretty obvious why some people choose not to eat meat or wear fur, but why someone wouldn’t use silk is just plain baffling to most. So here’s the deal.

When we think of silk we imagine beautiful gowns, delicate underwear and lavish furnishings, what we definitely don’t picture is live silk worms being plunged into vats of boiling water. And why would we? This certainly isn’t going to make us want to reach for our wallets, instead it is likely to make us reel with disgust.

The Plight of the Silk Worm

Just like cows, chickens and pigs, silk worms are domesticated, raised and bred on factory farms and are also killed by the hundreds of millions every year. To make one single pound of silk 2000-3000 worms have to be slaughtered.

Just prior to the metamorphosis stage where Bombyx Mori silk worms transform into moths, they spin fibers to create their cocoons. Naturally, the moth would chew its way out of this cocoon once the transformation is complete, but the problem this poses to the silk manufacturing industry is this natural development would result in chewed silk strands that are much shorter and less valuable than the intact cocoon. Which is why when the silk worms are in their pupa stage after being fed a strict diet of mulberry leaves, they are placed while still alive into boiling hot water, killing them and starting the process of unraveling the cocoon to produce silk.

Ahisma is another method of silk production that don’t include death for the silk worms. Although not resulting in death, there are still ethical issues surrounding the domestication and farming, such as adult moths being unable to fly because their bodies are too large and males unable to eat due to undeveloped mouth parts.

Some among us will try to claim that silk worms don’t matter and that they are just insects. While it’s true that we have a limited depth of understanding about insects, what we do know is that they have the capacity to feel and the right to live free from pain and suffering.

Give Peace Silk a Chance

If you’re a lover of silk then fear not as you don’t have to go without. Peace silk is a cruelty free, fairtrade alternative that is woven by hand in India. This animal-friendly silk is harvested from the cocoons of the wild and native Eri moth. The cocoons are collected from the forest after the moth has emerged and flown away, meaning no one has to be kept in captivity.

Peace silk is becoming the fabric of choice by many designers worldwide as people open their eyes to the plight of the silk worm, which is good news for you. A quick internet search will reveal a whole host of producers so there is no excuse not to buy your silk from an ethical source.

Other Alternatives

If you prefer to avoid animal products altogether, there are other alternatives available. Lyocell, silk cotton, ceiba tree filaments and milkweed seed pod fibers are all eco friendly options worth exploring.

The dark and disturbing world of silk worms isn’t one that gets much media coverage, beause the industry believes that we simply don’t care enough to care, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You can reject these inhumane practices and opt to buy cruelty free alternatives instead. We do not need to exploit insects, or any other animal for that matter, and no amount of whitewashing will justify using these tiny beings as resources for our own ends.


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Photo Credit: mynameisharsha

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1:01AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

great info

12:12PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

Sorry to hear about the chemo. Hopefully it’s doing the job & will be worth the side effects.

Back on topic: “Please point out to me - and others - when and where I ever referred to you as "closed minded and stupid'? Don and I CAN! :-)) "

This was your reasoning for why I should kill myself: “as closed minded as you are, it would make the intelligence level of the world rise, at least a percentage point.” Your quote @ 10:57AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Now how about addressing the questions on my post @ 4:41PM PST on Feb 6, 2014?

11:58AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

SUBA: OFF TOPIC: Please point out to me - and others - when and where I ever referred to you as "closed minded and stupid'? Don and I CAN! :-))

11:55AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

SUBA: Chemo dear. Really knocks me on my backside. In any case:

1. "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR "ANY" woman to become "PREGNANT" unless she absolutely wants to"

2. "any woman who becomes pregnant actually wants to be pregnant"

3. SUBA says; "I just shortened your sentence. The meaning is exactly the same."

QUESTION: How many folks out there agree with #3, concerning #'s 1 and 2? Don and I CAN! :-))

12:07AM PST on Feb 18, 2014

it seems like irritated

12:43AM PST on Feb 14, 2014

amazing things you have covered

5:07PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thank you for article.

5:06PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Thank you for article.

4:41PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Your tantrums only prove my position. For the record, here are some of the questions you failed to answer:

-Do you even grasp the fact that there’s a big difference between death and suffering? Killing and torture?

-Are you denying that billions of other lives are taken to sustain YOUR life and those of your offspring? If you have no problem with killing others to sustain your own life, what is your justification for objecting to other people killing other living beings out of necessity (or even convenience)?

-And here’s the one question no anti-abortion nut has ever answered: How does the life of a human fetus supersede the life and well-being of all other living beings, INCLUDING that of the child the fetus would become if forced to be born?

4:38PM PST on Feb 6, 2014

You quit? Isn't that a clear admission that you have no rebuttal to the arguments I presented? Your posts are almost entirely devoted to personal attacks at your opponent (without addressing the issues at all). That means there’s something seriously wrong with your position.

No misquote. I copied and posted from YOUR comment and you know it.

You just called me closed-minded and stupid, with absolutely no evidence to back up that claim. Care to elaborate? BTW what would you call a person who throws a tantrum when faced with a rebuttal, & calls for the death of those who disagree with him?

Also your “concern” for fetuses is proved false by your desire to see people die just for disagreeing with you.

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