Is silk ecological? Yes and no, and we'll tell you why!

Impact écolo Textiles: info et entretien


ecological textiles and silk

Silk is a 100% natural textile fiber of animal origin. Its fiber comes from a cocoon made by a caterpillar (mulberry bombyx) generally known as the silkworm.

Silk is one of the oldest textiles used. The oldest traces of silk have been found in China, dating back to 3000 B.C. It was kept like a mysterious secret from Western civilizations for centuries, and was gradually introduced to the West via the famous Silk Roads.

The secrecy of its manufacture and its slow introduction have made it a rare and luxurious textile material.

Since silk was already a fine, soft yarn, it did not benefit from the industrial revolution other than by mechanizing yarn unwinding and faster weaving. The advent of chemical fibers (polyester, nylon, rayon, etc.) changed the world of textiles and reduced the use of natural fibers, but silk remains a fabric in great demand for luxury clothing and lingerie.

Even today, 90% of silk is produced in Asia, mainly in China and India. It is estimated that with an annual production of 150,000 tons of silk, Asia has 0.2% of the world market for textile fibers.

The properties of silk
  • High absorbency
  • Exceptionally soft.
  • Glossy and flexible
  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear.
  • The strongest natural fiber known
  • Excellent insulation from heat in summer and cold in winter.
  • Difficult to maintain
But why address the ecological aspects of silk?
the ecological aspects of silk

At first glance, one might think that silk is an eco-friendly textile. Although it is a natural, biodegradable fiber, this is not necessarily the case. Like all intensive crops, silk can use chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers). Various operations may involve these substances, and the worms are regularly treated with antibiotics to avoid parasites, or with hormones to speed up production. In addition, traditional silk extraction requires large quantities of hot water.

From an ethical point of view, too, questions arise. Not only are the worms regularly killed by scalding when the time comes to retrieve the yarn, but their cultivation also requires a great deal of unskilled labor.

As a result, children are often put to work, and workers are subjected to deplorable working conditions: unhealthy working environments, excessive working hours,...

Are there solutions for silk that is more respectful of the environment and workers?
respect for the environment and workers

Yes, the first step is to grow organic silk. These respect both animals and the environment. No chemicals are used, and the worms are free to transform themselves into butterflies after producing their thread. Unfortunately, this practice is now less common and more costly.

It is also possible to opt for transparent brands and producers who promote fair trade, taking into account both working conditions and the environment.

To make a long story short, silk is natural, biodegradable and renewable. However, depending on the production methods used, its exploitation can be more or less respectful of the environment and workers.


Ecologically yours,

eco loco


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