Sadly, conventonal silk farming and processing is not environmentally- friendly, nor is it kind to the silk worms. Worms are bred in captivity and kept in tightly packed cages. The processing methods and dyes used are mixture of chemicals and synthetic substances, which obviously contribute to pollution — any chemicals and synthetic substances are essentially hazardous to humans as well.
However, cruelty-free silk does also exist and is available in the market. I interned with a fair trade company not long ago, and I discovered that these types of silks are made by using the cocoons of silkworms and thus do not harm the silkworm.
Silk comes from silkworms that aren’t permitted to reach adulthood and become moths. When silkworm larvae are entering the chrysalis stage, they wrap themselves in a silk cocoon. Before they can reach maturity, they are dipped in boiling water or steamed in an oven to preserve the silk; the silkworm secretes an alkali substance to eat through the cocoon. Only a few moths are allowed to survive and are used to continue producing the larvae as well as for research. Like with food, scientists want to develop low cost and disease resistant cocoons. Bamboo is considered to be an eco-friendly alternative to silk because it grows quickly and doesn’t require chemical processes.
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