~ What’s silkworm?
Silkworm (Bombyx mori) is a specie of the Lepidoptera, used for millennia to produce silk, that feed on mulberry tree leaves.
This animal wouldn’t be able to survive anymore in nature and it’s completely dependant from men for its survival: this is because of centuries of domestication. Unfortunately, even new methods of breeding silkworm, to produce what’s called ahimsa (peace) silk, despite seemingly cruelty-free, are most probably defective for the exact same reason that the moths, even if left free, cannot feed themselves or fly anymore (let alone mate). In some cases, the indigenous population use them in their diet. But we’re not here to start a dispute, only to present information we have and spark thoughts.
Regardless of the production method, we think silk is a phenomenal fiber!
Also, silkworm breeding is an excellent example of circular economy.
photo: Luis Fernández García
~ Is silk a sustainable material?
Mulberry trees plantations are never sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides as the leaves would otherwise be not good to feed silkworms. Mulberry trees also increase the level of biodiversity in the ecosystem and require no intensive farming techniques or a lot of water to grow like other plants.
Silk can be considered an eco-friendly material as its 100% recyclable, its production has very minimal waste that can be reused in many ways and produces very low emissions.
~ What’s the history of Silk?
Whole_world_-_land_and_oceans_12000.jpg: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center derivative work: Splette (talk)
The legend narrates that empress Hsi Ling Shi in China accidentally found out about the wonderful yarn and developed the art of sericulture. Whether this is true or not, silk was indeed part of the Chinese tradition since late-Neolithic, was brought to the Mediterranean through the “Silk Road” later to then appear in Europe during the Roman Empire.
Come the 13th century, Italy was the dominant producer, and silk growers increased in number in Italy thanks to Venetian merchants. European silk thrived until a number of events - the industrial revolution, the creation of artificial Nylon fiber, the presence of cheaper silk from Japan, the opening of the Suez Canal and the two World Wars - caused its fall.
~ What are silk properties?
Silk is a strong, shiny and smooth super-fabric.
Its strength is comparable to Nylon and Kevlar, and its resistance to breaking is way superior to Kevlar and similar to Nylon. It is more delicate than other fibers in terms of wear, but exhibits an uncommon combination of strength and toughness.
It is also very light, flexible and elastic: it stands lengthening of 20-25% its initial length.
Because of its perfectly smooth fibres, it is significantly more comfortable for people with dry skin and suffering from dermatitis and psoriasis.
It’s not all. Silk is the most hypoallergenic fibre, it has exceptional thermoregulating properties that allow it to cool and heat at the same time, thus being comfortably warm in winter and perfectly fresh when it’s warmer. It absorbs water in a way superior to cotton, polyester and nylon, and can absorb up to 30% of its weight in humidity. Result: it absorbs sweat and leaves your skin to breathe.
Now our question is: why is the world still using synthetic fibres, even when such superior materials exist in nature?
If we all start buying fewer cheap socks and more socks made with silk or other natural materials blended with silk... what an improvement for our skin and for the environment!
Spread the word!