5 min read. Silk does not have to involve killing - a cruelty-free way.
Are silkworms harmed in the making of silk?
After years of research and studies, today we understand and know the benefits of silk pillowcases to help fight frizz, split ends and wrinkles - but there is always that one thought that ethical-minded sleepers have when laying down on their beloved silk pillows: the animal welfare aspect of silk production since silk worms are harmed in the silk production process. Conventional silk is not cruelty free.
Peace Silk production - what is silk? How is it made?
Silk fibers consist of 97% protein. The silkworm larva produces silk to form a protective cocoon around itself to perform an undisturbed metamorphosis. Before that, the larva feeds on a specific kind of food - mulberry leaves - and hence produces Mulberry Silk. Once the cocoon is ready - the silk farmers throw the cocoons into boiling water. They do so, to kill the silkworms before they eat their way to freedom and in doing so destroy the cocoon with its precious fibers. It's even common to eat the boiled silkworm caterpillar in rural areas.
The boiling cocoons is though necessary to soften the sericin that holds silk fibers together. Each cocoon contains up to 1.5 km of thread. According to the required yarn size, the unwound threads of 3 to 20 cocoons are then spun together to form a single strand of the silk thread. This whole process is called sericulture and is created in an artificial environment.
The boiling-alive and killing silkworms part is what keeps any animal rights activists, including us, horrified. That is why we went out to search for alternatives and found a cruelty free choice in Peace Silk.
Image: silk worm feasting on mulberry leaves before cocoon stage
Peace Silk - what is ethical silk?
Peace Silk, also called Ahimsa Silk, is an ethical alternative to conventional silk. It is a type of silk that is produced without harming silkworms. Unlike traditional silk production, which involves boiling silkworms alive within their cocoons to obtain the silk fibers, Peace Silk is made by allowing the silkworms to complete their metamorphosis into moths before harvesting their cocoons.
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term that means 'non-violence' or 'non-harming'. It is a principle of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism that encourages the practice of non-violence towards all living beings, including animals and plants. Ahimsa is considered to be one of the highest virtues in these religions, and is often seen as a key principle of ethical behavior and spiritual development. In the context of Peace Silk, the term Ahimsa is used to refer to silk that is produced without harming silkworms, as a way of practicing non-violence towards these living creatures.
Ahimsa means living in respect of all living beings. That's what Ahimsā or Peace Silk is based on and it is the principle Moonchild is based on.
Peace Silk or Ahimsa Silk - is it cruelty free?
Peace Silk is non violent silk and an ethical fabric. No silkworms are killed during the production of Peace Silk. Instead of boiling the silkworm alive, they are allowed to hatch. They can do so, because the farmers make little cuts at a certain position of the cocoon. This allows the silkworms to hatch almost naturally and to maintain the precious filament at the same time. Just think about it as a form of gentle midwifery. The cocoons are collected as a residual product in the wild and boiled afterwards (without the pupa inside).
Peace Silk won't use genetically modified silk worms, or such that lost their ability to fly or eat through generations of generations of breeding - and would face another type of death in starvation. This is common practice in conventional silk production as well.
Ahimsa Silk typically leads to 10 extra days in the process to let the silkworms grow and hatch, plus some additional steps of labour. Whereas the conventional, and less humane way only takes about 15 minutes. Peace Silk is labour intense and more costly but we love and support the ethical approach and work around a conventional process that has been questioned - and improved ethically.
Image: Peace Silk cocoons during metamorphosis before butterflies hatch
Organic Peace Silk fabric
It took us many years to be able to source Peace Silk fabric in the same quality as the finest conventional silk available at the market. Peace Silk is a genuine organic silk fabric. Our Peace Silk production and the plantations are located in India where the silk moths feed on mulberry trees, hence producing Mulberry Silk. The silk worms only feast on mulberry leaves, hence producing a smooth, strong and round mulberry silk thread, the most desired quality of silk. This virgin silk filaments of the cocoons are then spun together to produce silk threads which are later woven to a silk fabric, just like cotton or linen.
The wild silk spinner also contribute to local pollination and thus enhance the local botanical variety - just as bees do. Our silk does not come from domesticated silkworms like the traditional bombyx mori silkworms, but from the bombyx indica silkworms. The bombyx mori are considered domesticated silk worms that may have lost their ability to eat and fly during generations and generations of selective breeding in the silk industry. The growing Peace Silk industry has its origin in India with various suppliers and various qualities.
Peace Silk: is it Mulberry Silk or Eri Silk?
Peace Silk fabric, just like regular silk can be made of many sources, like Tussar Silk or Eri Silk and gets its name from the food of the silk worm. Our silk is made by silk worms. The silk worms are fed mulberry leaves only, hence producing silky smooth Mulberry Silk. The Ahimsa Silk production process does neither kill female silk moths, nor male moths. The Ahimsa Silk production is still only a small percentage of the world's silk industry. The part of the organic Peace Silk industry is estimated to be below 1% of the global conventional silk production.
Peace Silk: What is the environmental impact?
Not only is Peace Silk a more humane alternative to traditional silk production, but it also has environmental benefits. Traditional silk production requires the use of harmful chemicals and large amounts of water, which can pollute the environment and harm local ecosystems. Peace Silk, on the other hand, is produced using natural, organic methods that are gentle on the environment.
What does that mean:
No pesticides are used on the Mulberry plantations. Our production uses no toxic fertiliser, insecticide or fungicide. Huge nets are spanned over the trees to protect them from predators instead.
No chemicals are used during the production process, whereas conventional silk production uses toxic salts for the degumming process, such as Barium, Chromium, Lead or Iron, to name a few.
No toxic chemicals or finishes are used that may be harmful to human health and the environment.
Peace Silk: What are the health benefits of organic Peace Silk?
All the mentioned features improve the environmental impact and the impact on animals - but are also an asset for us sophisticated dreamers. We sleep on silk in its most pure and honest form, therefore, use a beauty product in our daily lives that is free of harmful toxins and chemicals.
Silk is generally antimicrobial, hypoallergenic and acts as a natural dust mite and fungal repellant. This makes it one of the cleanest materials to sleep on. Allergy sufferers knew it all along. All those benefits make Moonchild silk pillowcases safe to rest on at night with a good conscience, so we can sleep, look and feel better.
Ist Peace Silk vegan silk?
Depending on the definition of vegan, Peace Silk can be considered vegan-friendly or vegan since no animal-cruelty is involved. The cocoons are collected as residual leftovers after the silkworm has accomplished its metamorphosis and is no longer in need of its protective shelter. If vegan is defined as any sort of animal-related product, then Peace Silk would not be considered vegan.
Any other fabrics and vegan silk alternative consists of synthetic fabrics and would then not be a natural fiber. Making silk requires silk worms. To create silk, silk worms need to produce a continuous filament and form it into a cocoon. Lotus silk is the only exception that belongs to the vegan alternatives: it comes from the lotus flower directly and has no silk worm involved. This great material is though very rare and expensive.
Image: Peace Silk cocoons - the spinner has hatched and the empty cocoons can be harvested
Peace Silk - an alternative?
Organic Peace Silk is a natural material, produced from residual cocoons of the silk worms. Peace Silk is gained without harming silk worms contrary to the silk industry that boils them alive within their cocoons. Besides being cruelty free and enabling a full metamorphosis, Peace Silk has another exceptional gain: the silk itself and the process of production are completely organic.
The use of organic Peace Silk has been gaining popularity in the fashion industry in recent years. Many designers and brands are now using Peace Silk to create luxurious, high-quality garments that are both ethical and sustainable. In addition to being kinder to the planet and its inhabitants, Peace Silk also has a unique texture and drape that sets it apart from traditional silk. By choosing Peace Silk products, you can enjoy the luxurious feel and unique texture of silk while also supporting humane and environmentally-friendly production methods.