Unsurprisingly, silk comes from silkworms. But unlike the tales we’ve been spun (get it?) via the likes of the spider Charlotte’s Web, who seemed to have a great time knocking out that silky web, silkworms don’t spend their lives happily excreting silk for us to mash up into a sexy little slip. They wouldn’t have the time even if they wanted to, because they’re killed before they have the chance.
We all know that leather isn’t ethical (duh) and that wool is rarely so, but did you know that your favourite silk dress is actually one of the cruelest materials in your wardrobe?
Silkworms produce silk to make cocoons, which are casings created to protect themselves during the pupal stage during its transformation into its adult form as a winged moth. Unfortunately, to mass produce silk, these insects are boiled or gassed alive before they even reach this stage in order to obtain these unused silk threads in a single, unbroken filament.
Unfortunately for silkworms, they can’t express distress in a way that humans can recognise like most other animals, meaning that their brutal ends are often overlooked.
According to PETA, some 6,600 silkworms are killed for just one kilogram of silk.
Let’s let that sink in for a moment…
In a bid to combat this ethical neglect, many people have turned to ‘peace silk’ (or ‘ahimsa silk’) which has supposedly been produced from cocoons collected after the moth has naturally emerged. Unfortunately there is no certification authority to guarantee that such standards are upheld, with several reports of instances where conventional silk is being incorrectly sold as ‘peace silk’.
The only way you can really guarantee a cruelty-free material is to opt for something that isn’t derived from an animal such as apple leather, orange fibre (a great silk alternative) or Tencel.
We’re just here to give you the facts – it’s up to you to decide what to put in your wardrobe.