1MW Guide to Sustainable Fabrics – ORGANIC SILK

Susta-Style by Bronte Hogarth

We know it can be difficult to understand exactly what sustainable fashion means, and the material your clothing is made from plays a BIG role in it’s environmental impact! The Susta-Style 1MW Guide to Sustainable Fabrics series will look at the most sustainable materials in use today, and also the fabric innovations that lie ahead for the future.

Organic Silk is our sustainable fabric this week.

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Organic Silk:

Silk is conventionally produced by the mulberry silk worm which become silk moths who encase themselves in cocoons, then are traditionally killed with hot water vapor or boiling water. Because of that, the cocoon remains intact and the silk can be reeled off in one single thread that can be up to 900 meters long. (Next week we will talk about alternative ways of producing silk like Wild Silk and Peace Silk).

Organic Silk is produced according to certified organic standards. That means, that the caterpillars eat mulberry leaves (or other plants) that are free from pesticides and the usually common hormone treatment is refrained from as well.

During the boiling, twining, weaving and colouring, only environmental friendly and healthy chemicals and dyes are used.

Organic Silk production systems:

Organic Silk is most often produced in small villages by indigenous people and is the choice for the purest silk. Organic Silk is grown in 22 countries all over the world.

  • It is a sustainable crop with cocoons being produced when the silkworms are about 35 days old.
  • Silk is also biodegradable and will decompose gracefully in landfills.
  • Given its durability, silk is ideal for recycled or up-cycled fashion.
What to watch out for:

Organic Silk yarns

Silk, like other protein fibers coming from living beings such as sheep and alpacas, can easily be created according to organic guidelines. Many silk fibers are already being produced in an organic environment, especially those produced in smaller villages and rural environments.

When it comes to the sustainability of Organic silk, the consumer must be aware to ask the right questions when shopping. For example, if the silk happened to be produced in a large power-loomed textiles factory, the overall sustainability of the silk must be evaluated on a company-by-company basis. Whereas if it is produced by weavers on hand-looms (like in small villages) it has a near zero energy footprint, making it more sustainable.

Also, it’s sustainability and Eco-friendliness is increased if the organic silk is dyed using low-impact and fiber reactive dyes or vegetable dyes without any fabric finishes.

See last weeks Susta-Style post on Organic Linen.

Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au

  • Susta-Style is a weekly post on sustainable fashion, shopping and design.