SILK: Beneficial to the Planet and the Wearer
by Cheryl Kolander = Aurora Silk
Essay in progress
“Is silk sustainable?” I am often asked. “Silk is BENEFICIAL” is my answer.
Here are some of the many ways that silk is BENEFICIAL to the Planet and the Wearer, (and as well the raiser and the processor.)
1) mulberry trees. First for silk you need mulberry trees, as this is all the caterpillars eat. Mulberry is the tree of Life from ancient times. Besides food for silk it provides berries. It is said Alexander conquered Asia because his soldiers ate rations of dried mulberries mixed with sheep fat.
wood: the heartwood is the finest resonant bodies for all types guitars, sitars, samisens and all such instruments.
medicine: the Chinese recognize and use 5 medicines from the tree, including berries, flowers, root bark, bark, and shoots.
paper: the inner bark of all mulberries is used for the finest, most durable paper. I visited a traditional operation in Samarkand, O’Z. They make paper for repair and restorations to old Bibles and Qurans.
fabric is made by pounding the inner bark, the Tapa cloth of Polynesia is exactly this.
soil retention, erosion control: deep roots and fast growth, the US Dept of Agriculture distributed thousands of mulberry trees to plant across the midwest and west as windbreaks and for erosion control after the dust storms of the ’30’s.
traditional planting is along roads, canals and field borders. No prime farm land is used to raise the trees.
leaves are also excellent feed for cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits; berries for chickens. Sometimes people boil and eat the young shoots.
2) caterpillars’ castings
bi products of raising are the frass or caterpillar poop. This is top quality fertilizer. In Japan this is the recommended fertilizer for the living art known as Bonzai.
caterpillar castings are an important commercial source of chlorophyll, as used in Listerine and toothpaste.
3) caterpillars as food
for reptiles and amphibians kept as pets or for the captive breeding of endangered species, silkworms are the top food. They are 30% digestible protein, the highest of any food. Extinct in the wild chameleons are able to breed in captivity only if fed silk caterpillars.
In traditional cultures the pupae are eaten by people. It s proposed that the civilization of China was possible because the peasantry was well fed on an adequate protein rich diet of silk pupae.
a very practical fibre that requires minimal preparation:
6 weeks to raise
reeling makes use of about 1 gallon water per kg silk, which water is reuseable.
degumming uses about 4 gallons of water per kg of silk and this produces the secondary product of silk sericin which is used in cosmetics and for hair care and silk rejuvenation.
Silk is the most beautiful medium for colours, which are easily dyed and exceptionally brilliant. = ART!, food for the soul
therapeutic aspects of silk are well documented: bandages, rubdown towels, soft clothes for delicate skin conditions, UV protection, etc. etc.
5) research – medical
sutures of silk are bio-disolvable and do not need to be removed when used internally – this was standard till very recently, and there is a movement to return to pure silk for sutures.
Stem cell replacement organs are being grown on my pure silk cocoons, degummed according to medical protocol.
Lots more to add !