Sustainable Silk Fabric | Definition, Classification And Quality

Sustainable silk fabric is one of the high-quality material with outstanding advantages. This material is widely and commonly used in life from the field of apparel to other purposes. Let’s learn about silk fabrics with Dugarco in the article below.

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1. What is sustainable silk?

Silk fabric is a natural garment made from silk fibers created by antiseptic. Silk fiber is a natural protein fiber composed mainly of fibers. Fibroin is made from several types of duplication, but most silk is obtained from duplicate Bombyx mori. This worm lives on mulberry trees. A liquid protein fiber secreted from the silkworm’s salivary glands. When exposed to air, this liquid solidifies, forming silk fibers.

green silk shirt
Is silk sustainable?

At the same time when releasing silk, silkworms also secrete another liquid called sericin, which is like a glue that glues two thin silk branches together into a silk thread. With such a composition, silk is very sustainable. Wearing sustainable silk clothing is like putting on a second skin, cool and comfortable for the wearer. Also, because it is made of protein, green silk fabric can decompose naturally without harming the environment.

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2. How is silk sustainable fabric made?

Silk products from thousands of years ago are still considered high-class fabrics. The fabric has the characteristics of soft, smooth, thin, light, good sweat absorption, and high durability. To get a finished silk fabric that is both beautiful and sustainable, the craftsman must go through many different stages. This is the process to create them.

  • Step 1 – Silkworm rearing: Bombyx mori is the most typical commercial silk moth. The ideal time to raise silkworms is when the climate is cool in spring or autumn. On average, a silkworm can live 23-25 days and undergo 4 molts. They can eat mulberry leaves, and cassava leaves continuously, regardless of day and night. And after about 3 weeks of growing to full size, they will crawl to a suitable place to release silk and create cocoons.
  • Step 2 – Release silk to create cocoons: Silkworms will release silk to create an outer shell, shaping the cocoon nest. They then lie in it and move in the figure of 8 about 3000 times to release silk, forming silk threads that can be nearly 1000km long wrapped around the cocoon.
is silk sustainable
Making silk fabric process
  • Step 3 – Incubating silk: This is the step of pulling the silk from the cocoon into the finished silk thread. The incubation period of silk falls about 1 week after the silkworms emerge and must be incubated for 5 days. The cocoons will be dropped into boiling water and stirred to soften and peel off the outer coat. The worker will find the root of the silk to draw it, twist 10 silk threads into 1 and wrap it in a dedicated silk reel.
  • Step 4 – Weaving silk: Depending on the quality of the silk thread, there will be different weaving methods to create different types of silk fabrics.
  • Step 5 – Dyeing: The original silk fabric is ivory white. To make colored silk, it is necessary to dye the silk. Dyed with the colors of natural plants to create the most beautiful, durable fabrics.

Finally, the sustainable silk fabric will be completed, which is often accomplished by the use of various chemical treatments that impart certain attributes to the fabric, such as crease-proofing and fire resistance. The silk fabric may then be sewed and utilized to make a variety of new goods, including fashion pieces.

3. Advantages and disadvantages of sustainable silk

Advantages of silk sustainable:

  • Reduced environmental impact: Sustainable silk production methods are designed to reduce the negative impact such as minimizing the use of water, pesticides, and fertilizers that are traditionally used in silk production. This helps to reduce environmental pollution, water usage, and carbon footprint.
  • Fabric properties: Silk fabric is lighter in weight than other fabrics. It has a glossy finish that feels light to the user. In addition, the fabric is a green silk fabric. In summer, silk fabric is cool but it stays warm in winter.
  • High hygroscopicity: With this advantage, the wearer will feel cooler.
  • Good heat resistance: When the fabric encounters high temperatures, it will not deform.
  • Skin-friendly: With ingredients of natural origin, silk fabric is very suitable for people with sensitive skin.
  • Promotes biodiversity and conservation: Sustainable silk production also promotes biodiversity and conservation efforts. Through regenerative farming practices, the production of sustainable silk can help to preserve natural resources and enhance biological diversity.
  • High-quality product: Silk also produces a high-quality product that is not only eco-friendly but also sustainable and long-lasting.
sustainable silk fabric
The benefits and drawbacks of sustainable silk

Disadvantages of sustainable silk:

  • Higher cost: Sustainable silk production may be costly compared to traditional silk production methods due to the higher labor costs and reduced yields from using organic processes.
  • Limited availability: Silk is not widely available making it difficult to access for most consumers.
  • Hard to maintain: Silk fabric is prone to wrinkles, so if you do not take good care of it, it will take time to iron your clothes.
  • Requires additional processing: Silk production methods require additional processing to remove the impurities, which results in a slightly higher degree of processing than traditional silk production.
  • Purity is not guaranteed: Even though sustainable silk products are produced under strict regulations, they can still have impurities and contamination from chemicals used in silkscreen printing or sourcing.

Overall, the advantages of producing sustainable silk outweigh the disadvantages, as sustainable silk production is a step forward toward promoting social and environmental responsibility.


4. Some silk sustainable fabrics replace conventional silks

Silk is one of the most premium fabrics on the market. The outstanding feature is a thin, soft, smooth, and very light surface. In addition, here are some other types of silk that can be substituted for sustainable silk.

4.1. Peace silk

The most prevalent alternative to sustainable silk fabric is peace silk, also known as Ahimsa silk. The key reason this silk is “more ethical” is that moths are allowed to emerge and fly away before their cocoons are properly cooked. This implies that no moths are cooked alive throughout the manufacturing process.

green silk fabric
The other name of peace silk is Ahimsa silk

4.2. Recycled silk

You cannot go wrong by choosing recycled silk! Used silk fabrics have been reused and recycled into new ones, and it is done without the ethical and sustainable issues of producing virgin silk. No additional silkworm is killed, and recycling a fabric also requires fewer resources to be used.

sustainable silk dress
Recycled silk is the best choice for the environment

4.3. Spider silk

Spider silk not only does sparkle like stars but also is outstanding more than any other material when woven into a fabric. However, one cloth can take a million spiders to weave. And it also possesses superior qualities such as warm winter, cool summer, lightweight, and as durable as steel. Therefore, spider silk is a legendary material in the fashion industry.

green silk fabric
Spider silk is said to be an alternative to synthetic fibers

4.4. Vegan silk alternatives

If you don’t want to wear apparel derived from animals, there are various vegan silk-like textiles you might try.

  • Pineapple silk and banana silk: They are more silk-like materials available. Because both are manufactured as a byproduct of the fruit industry, they are extremely sustainable textiles that save waste and resources.
  • Lotus silk: This is manufactured by spinning the long roots of the lotus flower. Lotus plants are cultivated without chemicals and with minimal water.
  • Cactus silk: It is derived from a succulent strain that requires very little water and no chemicals to thrive.

All of these vegan alternatives are excellent choices, and they are far more ecological and ethical than traditional silk!

sustainable silk scarf
Lotus silk is made from the roots and stems of the lotus flower

4.5. GOTS-certified or Oeko-Tex organic silk

GOTS-certified organic silk is a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional silk. It is made in the same way as traditional silk, but no pesticides or other dangerous chemicals are used. Everything in the manufacturing process is organic, and the silkworms are fed a more diverse diet rather than only mulberry leaves.

sustainable silk dress
GOTS-certified organic silk

Another more environmentally friendly choice is Oeko-tex-certified silk. It indicates that the silk is free of hazardous chemicals from raw materials to finished products, making it healthier and better for the environment. Regardless of whether you buy Oeko-Tex or GOTS-certified silk, the silkworms are still murdered before they can escape their cocoons. As a result, organic silk is more environmentally friendly but not more ethical than conventional silk.

4.6. Wild silk

Tussar silk, often known as wild silk, is created from the cocoons of Tussar silkworms found in open woodlands. Because their cocoons are normally picked after the moths have emerged, it is a more ethical alternative to traditional silk. Because wild silkworms eat a variety of plants, their fabric is less uniform, but it is more sustainable. The cloth is also made with less chemicals.

green silk fabric
Wild silk also known as tussar silk

5. Impact of sustainable silk on the environment

How sustainable silk affects the environment. Let’s get started on the details below!

5.1. The silkworm was killed

The majority of silkworms die in their cocoons before turning into moths. Peace silk, often known as cruelty-free silk, is derived from cocoons from which moths have been allowed to emerge. Unfortunately, the Bombyx mori moth, which is utilized in the majority of industrial silk manufacturing, will only live a few hours after emerging from its cocoon. Wild silk cocoons are discovered in open woodlands and are obtained after the moth has left the cocoon.

silk sustainable
The extermination of silkworm

5.2. Takes a lot of energy

Large quantities of energy can be utilized to move materials through the process, regulate the temperature in silkworm-raising facilities, and heat water for silk production, dying, and processing. Cooking the cocoons is the most energy-intensive element of the procedure. According to certain lifecycle evaluations, silk is 1000 times more efficient in terms of energy of creation than polyethylene.

sustainable silk clothing
Wasting energy

5.3. Mulberry tree cultivation

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are occasionally used in conventional silk production, although mulberry plants do not require them. Even when chemicals are employed in the cultivation of mulberry trees, they require far fewer chemicals than cotton and most other natural fibers. Pesticides such as dyathin-M-45 can be used to protect seedlings in mulberry farms.

sustainable silk fabric
Silkworms use a lot of mulberry trees before making cocoons

Mulberry plants lose their leaves every year, therefore available output is restricted to one generation every year. A mature mulberry tree produces enough leaves to feed 100 silkworms. If one yard of cloth requires 3,000 cocoons, that’s a lot of mulberry trees!

5.4. Uses a lot of water

Water is used extensively in reeling and material processing to clean the silk and eliminate sericin. Inquire with your supplier whether they have a water treatment and recycling system. If they don’t have one, assist them in installing one. This can result in future savings for the facility since water can be recycled back into the system, reducing water spending.

sustainable silk scarf
Consuming plenty of water when making completed products

5.5. Workers and communities

Silk manufacturing is labor intensive and typically takes place in areas with cheap labor prices. Chemical exposure through inhalation and skin contact during production and material processing can be exceedingly hazardous to employees’ health if suitable equipment and safety procedures are not implemented. There is evidence of child labor in silk manufacturing.

green silk fabric
Employees and the public

5.6. Use of chemicals

Formalin and bleach powders can be used as general disinfectants throughout the sericulture process. To clean the silk and eliminate sericin, toxic chemicals may be utilized during reeling and material processing. Untreated wastewater is frequently discharged straight into groundwater, including not only chemical contaminants but also biological waste that can contribute to soil degradation and eutrophication. Although chemical treatments are rarely used on silk, dyes are often used. Silk is an excellent material for natural dyeing. Unfortunately, most commercially available silk is dyed and finished with chemicals.

sustainable silk dress
Toxic dyeing chemicals

Compared with other textiles, sustainable silk currently accounts for a very small proportion of total production, only 0.2% of the global yarn market. Obviously, it is not the choice of the majority of fast fashion followers. If you have any questions, please contact Dugarco for detailed answers!

Contact information:

  • Address: 59 Đức Giang, Đức Giang, Long Biên, HN
  • Phone: 024 3655 7930
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