Silk is a protein fibre, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. Today, China and Japan are the two main producers, together accounting for more than 50% of global production each year.
The best-known type of silk is obtained from cocoons made by the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity or otherwise known as sericulture. Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk. Commercially reared silkworm pupae are killed by dipping them in boiling water before the adult moths emerge, or by piercing them with a needle, allowing the whole cocoon to be unraveled as one continuous thread. This allows a much stronger cloth to be woven from the silk. Some silk producers prefer to bake the cocoons so that the pupae dries out and doesn’t begin to rot and smell.
All of these processes inflict pain on an innocent being so that we may wear their byproducts. Many people argue that it is unnecessary to kill any beings for silk when there are artificial silks available. “Wild Silk” for instance is the use of the cocoon once a moth has successfully hatched but is not used as often because the moth will damage the cocoon when it emerges causing shorter fibers. This means that the silk has to be spun instead of reeled which is more costly. Many fabrics are available that look and behave like silk which are completely man made. Humane alternatives to silk include nylon, milkweed seed-pod fibers, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, and rayon.