The sustainable and non-violent alternative to silk: Ahimsa Silk

Silk is normally associated with luxury, occasion wear and textiles with shimmery surfaces and a smooth texture. For Indians especially, silks belong in our trousseaus, are worn on happy festivals, and are even passed down generations as family heirlooms. Even though this yarn was originated in China, until recently, India was the largest consumer of silk in the world.

Most of us love this fabric for the soft touch but it’s important to understand the production practices behind our choices. In a nutshell, in the production of traditional silk, the silkworm is boiled alive.

Did you know that 30,000-50,000 silkworms are killed to make one six-yard sari*? 

Sericulture is the cultivation of silkworms where they feed on mulberry leaves until they grow to three inches (ten thousand times their original size), and are then ready to be harvested. As they grow, the caterpillars secrete liquid protein to construct their cocoons, which is eventually extracted as raw silk. The worms are boiled or blasted with steam by manufacturers to collect the cocoons, and this process kills the pupae.

Luckily, a sustainable and non-violent alternative has been developed without harming the silk worms: Ahimsa silk.

What exactly means Ahimsa and why this type of silk was named after that?

According to the Art of living, “Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning "non-violence." The term is derived from the root word himsa, meaning "to cause pain," and the prefix - ‘a’ means "not." Himsa (physical violence) arises out of fear, and fear leads to insecurity, which causes us to feel separate from others—alone and misunderstood.

Ahimsa enables us to live in such a way that we cause no harm in thought, speech, or action to any living being, including ourselves. In its purest form, ahimsa is the spontaneous expression of the highest form of love — universal love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness — an unconditional sense of belonging to everyone and everything”.

Ahimsa silk got its name from this concept since this method does not kill the silkworms to extract silk. Hence 'Ahimsa' describes the process of obtaining silk. It is also known as peace silk.

Ahimsa silk uses a method of non-violent silk breeding and harvesting. Wild silk moths are bred, rather than the domestic variety. It allows the completion of the metamorphosis of the silkworm to its moth stage.

 Producing Peace silk is done by cutting the top of the cocoon gently to allow the developing moth to escape and to finish its natural lifecycle outside of the cocoon. It is a very peaceful, non-violent way of harvesting silk and a real wonder of nature. Then, the pierced cocoons is used to extract the required yarn, spin the silk fibre and make fabric out of it.

What are the benefits of using Peace Silk?

- Keeps the same pH level as the skin, thus not interfering with the skin’s protective acid mantle.

- Absorbs less moisture than cotton. It maintains the natural moisture and oils in your skin.

- Sleeping on pure silk is ultimate bedtime luxury. It helps skin rejuvenating!

- It is hypoallergenic and prevents house dust mites from entering through the pillowcase due to the tight weave. It also contains sericin, a protein which prevents the growth of mites and moulds.

- Reduces frizzy hair and split ends aka (bed head) making the hair smoother after a night’s sleep.

- Provides good value for such a luxurious, limited edition beauty product.

Nowadays, sustainable brands use peace silk in their collections: Mother of Pearl,  Stella McCartney, Komana, Jungle Folk

By switching to Ahimsa silk, you support the same philosophy of "live and let live"!

And now, are you going to think about the next silky garment you will buy? ;)

Did you know?
Kusuma Rajaiah is the inventor of Ahimsa Silk. Inspired by Gandhi's non-violence and legacy, he invented the ahimsa silk method in the early 2000s.

*Sari: A women's garment from South Asia that consists of an unstitched drape varying from 4.5 to 9 metres in length and 600 to 1,200 millimetres in breadth that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder