Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morals of Silk

Donna from Nid de Tissus wrote a fascinating post about visiting a silk worm farm, or rather a museum.  Go check it out! Then come back cause it posed an interesting question for me.

Now, I know people who find the process of making silk to be cruel because you have to boil the silk worms in their cocoon to get the end product. I would like to put a bit of a different spin on it though.  If these worms didn't produce such a lovely fabric would humans have bothered to keep them alive for thousands of years?  Would they have, instead, been eradicated as pests?  Maybe the very thing we kill them for is what has allowed the species to survive.  I would love to hear everyone's thought on this.


  1. I can't get your Nid de Tissus link to work, and would love to check it out. Can you check when you get the chance?
    Cheers! :)

  2. That's an interesting question. Before visiting that place, I had no idea that the silkworms were killed in order to preserve the integrity of the thread and it was a little shocking to find out. That particular species has been modified by human intervention and can't even fly now, so it was kinda pathetic to see the adult moths flopping around in their box. There are other species that can still fly, but not the primary one used in silk production.

    I'm not sure we would've eradicated them, but it is possible. We certainly do so (or try!) to insects and animals that deem pests! Since these particular moths only eat mulberry trees they might have escaped relatively unharmed.

    I'm curious as to what other people think about this! Thanks for linking back :)

    1. Ah, I didn't realize that the adults weren't even able to fly anymore. It is sad, true, but they have a definitive purpose in the world. Kinda like chickens.

      I often have a similar conversation with people that won't eat chicken eggs. My contention with that is that MOST chicken eggs are not even fertilized. If we stopped eating the eggs we'd suddenly have thousands of chicken eggs just rotting and smelling bad. I'm not really fond of the idea of going in an genetically splicing to create new species because of a phenomenon called "genetic drift" but hybridization and husbandry has been around for thousands of years, before we even knew what germs were.

  3. I do, in a way, have issues that silk worms have to die for our fabric. But, after a long and hard internal debate, I decided that it's better than sewing with synthetics, which are essentially plastic, made from barrels and barrels of oil. And I've settled with myself that natural fibres will last better and feel nicer than cheap synthetics.

    Random comment - As a child I used to get silk worms as pets in the summer, it was a fascinating process, feeding them the mulberries,watching the cocoons, waiting for them to come out.