Where can I buy sustainable silk textiles

silk

Noble and ecological: organic silk

What are the general properties of silk

* low density, therefore pleasantly light on the skin
* high dimensional stability
* Insulates very well i.e. cools in summer, warms in winter
* typical silk gloss
* sensitive to UV radiation, sweat, heat, acids and alkalis
* expensive to maintain

 

How sustainable is organic silk?

+ Natural product
+ completely biodegradable
+ Mulberry trees are grown in mixed cultures
+ Cultivation of the mulberry trees is free from pesticides and mineral oil fertilizers
+ No use of chemicals / dyes that are harmful to health or the environment in fabric manufacture

What makes organic silk special?

Cultivation and harvest

Silk is a natural continuous fiber that is obtained from the cocoons of the silk moth. Different silkworms produce different types of silk. The most famous silkworm is the mulberry moth. It feeds exclusively on the leaves of the mulberry tree and spins a particularly fine, even and almost pure white thread. Mulberry silk is therefore considered to be the highest quality of all silks, because it can be dyed particularly well and processed into the finest fabrics.

Before the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it begins to spin a cocoon. To do this, it produces a single, up to 3,000 m long silk thread with its spinneret on the head, which it wraps around itself like a sheath. After it has coiled up, the caterpillar pupates inside the cocoon. Because the fully developed butterfly would destroy the cocoon and thus also the silk thread when it hatches, the cocoons are boiled in hot water before hatching and the larvae pupae are killed in the process. The glue that the caterpillar used to bond the silk thread to the cocoon can only be loosened by boiling. Then the threads of three to eight cocoons are gathered and unwound together. They stick together and form a stable silk thread that can be processed into a textile.

So far so good. But what is the difference between conventional silk and organic silk? It already begins with the cultivation of the mulberry trees, the leaves of which serve as food for the caterpillars. While these are mainly mined in monocultures in the conventional silk industry, when it comes to the production of organic silk, emphasis is placed on cultivation in mixed cultures. In addition, artificial fertilizers and pesticides are not used at all. This has a positive effect on the environmental and living conditions. In addition, the silk moths receive a higher quality feed in this way, which also significantly improves the quality of the end product - the silk. In addition, the use of drugs and growth-promoting substances, the residues of which could remain in the silk, is prohibited in organic caterpillar breeding. Until they pupate, the caterpillars are reared according to the guidelines of controlled organic animal husbandry.

Crucial differences to conventional silk production can also be seen in the further processing of the silk thread. On the world market, silk is traded by weight. A lot of weight is already lost by washing out the silk glue, which results in a considerable loss of value. In conventional silk production, it is common to compensate for the weight loss with metal salts, synthetic resins or chemicals. The finished silk fabrics are also usually chemically treated in order to make them crease-free or dirt-repellent, for example. The workers in the silk production are often exposed to these chemicals without protection, the end user later wears the chemicals on his skin. The use of chemicals that are harmful to health and the environment is prohibited in the production of organic silk. Since organic silk is not artificially made difficult, the manufacturer has to raise the prices for it - otherwise he would make less profit. Natural silk is therefore often more expensive, but also of higher quality.

 

Tussah silk / wild silk

Tussah silk is obtained from the cocoons of the wild tussah spinner, which is why it is also called wild silk. The cocoons are collected after the butterfly hatches. In contrast to the mulberry moth, the tussah moth is allowed to continue its life as a butterfly and is not killed to obtain the silk. When the butterfly hatches, it leaves a hole in the cocoon, the silk thread is severed several times and cannot be unwound in one go, as is the case with mulberry silk production. Instead, the shorter silk fibers must first be spun into a long thread. The thickening and slight irregularities characteristic of tussah silk arise during spinning. Textiles made from wild silk therefore have a somewhat coarser structure than those made from mulberry silk.

 

How do you properly care for silk?

* Wash / hand wash:

A look at the care label reveals whether the textile can be washed wet or whether dry cleaning is necessary.
Since hand washing is gentle on the material, it is ideally suited for the care of silk textiles. To do this, put a little silk detergent or a mild soap in a container with lukewarm water. Place the textile in the lye and let it soak for about 4 minutes. While doing this, gently move the fabric back and forth. Silk is particularly sensitive when wet, so proceed with care. Then pour off the lye and rinse the textile in cold water. A teaspoon of wine vinegar can be added to the water so that all soap residues are completely removed.
Individual stains should not be rubbed out with a damp cloth, as this can result in unsightly water stains.

* Dry:

Do not wring out the wet textile, but roll it up in a dry towel. Then roll out, carefully pull straight at the corners and let it dry lying down. Never put the textile in the sun to dry as silk loses its shine and becomes brittle through prolonged UV radiation.

* Ironing:

Silk should be ironed while it is still damp, inside out and over medium heat.