It takes around 3,000 silkworm cocoons to produce one pound of silk fabric, which translates to death for millions upon millions of silkworms each year. Or does it? There is a mini-industry of “peace silk,” also known as “vegetarian silk,” which claims to allow the silkworm to live its full life cycle.
In traditional silk production, cocoons are boiled or steamed to kill the worm inside and loosen the filament. If the moth is allowed to emerge from the cocoon, the filament is broken and can no longer be reeled as one continuous strand. However, broken filaments can still be carded, combed, and spun into yarn, just like cotton or wool. This is the process used by “peace silk” manufacturers and retailers like Ahimsa Silk and Aurora Silk.
However, my new friend Michael Cook of wormspit.com questions the peacefulness of peace silk. He writes that when the all of the number of silk moths required to produce textiles are allowed to hatch, the resulting population is not sustainable, and millions of eggs and newly hatched caterpillars die from a combination of dessication and starvation. He suggests looking beyond the marketing terms like “wildcrafted” which may simply be putting a feel-good spin on traditionally farmed silk.
What do you think? Here, let’s try a poll …