A belated Mother's Day

Phew, after a hectic week, I made it to India to visit the unit where The Ethical Silk Company’s products are made, and to see the new collection which is currently underway. It will be an intense trip but it’s a privilege to see this beautiful country and its people again. 

I still have a childish joy in packing my bags to go away and feeling the excitement starting to build. Well planned hand luggage is the top priority as even the smallest comfort can make the travel so much easier as the flights and layovers can really take it out of you. A silk wrap and eye mask are your best friends on a trip - silk is lightweight and temperature regulating helping keep you snug on flights and warm in chilly airports.

Now that I’m settled in Jaipur and I’m taking a few hours to rest and acclimatise (to the noise if nothing more) I realise that I won’t be in Ireland for Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day without seeing my two boys, and the first Mother’s Day in a very long time that I won’t see my own mother.

I’m not usually sentimental about these occasions. It’s a short trip and we can all enjoy a belated Mother’s Day when I get home, but that doesn’t stop you thinking about your mammy, and where would you be without her.

My mother is responsible for planting the original seed of an idea of The Ethical Silk Company. When we were growing up, she slept with a silk scarf over her pillowcase, and encouraged my sister and I to do the same as it was so good for our skin and hair. That’s what led to a lifelong love of silk and exploring the idea of making silk pillowcases and baby cot sheets. Fast-forward to now, and arriving in India to see our new Ethical Silk patterns and styles in production, fills me with pride. Thank you Mum for showing me the beauty of silk so early on in life, who knew it would sculpt my life so much!

Despite it looking like punishment lines (remember those from school?) this card was made under entirely voluntary conditions

Despite it looking like punishment lines (remember those from school?) this card was made under entirely voluntary conditions

And I’ll be missing my own little helpers too but they can just have an extra day to get their homemade card count up (one card for an occasion never suffices, it’s usually 6 or 7). So enjoy your mums and enjoy being a mum on Mother’s day. It’s the hardest job in the world, but I wouldn’t be without it.

Hurrah for Gin - never fails to get a giggle

Hurrah for Gin - never fails to get a giggle

Caring for your silk

“I love silk, but all that hand-washing and dry cleaning, I don’t have time for all that extra work!” 

In my line of work, I tend to hear this a quite a lot. Rest assured, I’m here to share the good news! Yes, mulberry silk from The Ethical Silk Company requires just a little bit of love and attention, but it Is strong as well as beautiful and surprisingly easy to look after. Silk is the strongest of natural fibres. This natural material needs to be cared for like any other, in order to maintain its strength and durability. There’s a reason why we call our beloved baby cot sheet the ‘gift for life’, we know it can last a lifetime.

Our 100% natural, eco-friendly silk can be easily washed, dried and ironed. Just follow our handy guide to getting the best from your silk products and you’ll have family heirloom to pass on to future generations.

  1. You can machine wash your silk on a low-temperature, gentle cycle.  Use the time-reduction setting on your machine, if you have it.
  2. Wash like colours together.
  3. Use a silk/wool detergent like Woolite, or Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid.
  4. A mesh bag will protect your silk from any possible snagging in the machine.
  5. Avoid the fabric conditioner/softener! It is not necessary for silk. In fact, it leaves behind a coating on your laundry, that with repeated use makes it impenetrable to water and detergent (same goes for your sports gear by the way). 
  6. Silk dries very quickly. Hang to dry, out of direct sunlight.
  7. For best results, iron from damp, on reverse, using low setting. Trust us – it gives the nicest finish and is the easiest way to dry.
  8. Tumble drying is not recommended (or needed as silk dries so quickly)

 

If you’re still dubious, you can always hand-wash your silk, using lukewarm water and a mild detergent. A good alternative is a non alkaline soap or even baby shampoo! Do not soak. Wash your silk gently through the soapy water for a just a few minutes.

Rinsing can take a bit of time, but adding a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water is recommended as it neutralizes alkali traces. Do not wring it out afterwards as this can damage the fibers. Roll your garment gently into a towel to extract the water. And continue as before to dry.

Love your silk laundry and it will last for many years to come!

Simple Love

The Hallmark day arrives again, Valentine’s Day. I don’t want to snub it completely, what’s the harm in being reminded to express your love for your nearest and dearest and not take them for granted? But it sometimes feels too forced, as if you simply must receive a card, roses, chocolates and an expensive dinner out or there’s something wrong with your relationship! 

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But we can enjoy Valentine’s Day without feeling like we are doing it for the sake of it.  How do you really want to spend the 14th February and have it feel special? As ever, it’s the little things. You can spoil your loved ones in thoughtful, meaningful ways and have a really special evening by delighting the senses without caving to the expensive paraphernalia. So stay in on Tuesday night and keep it cosy!

1) Cosy up
The weather is beyond cold at the moment, and nothing is more cheering on these dreadful evenings than a cosy fire. It’s my favourite thing. For those of you who don’t have an open fire or stove, using lots of candlelight will help create that relaxing, flickering glow.  Very ‘hygge’ altogether!

2) Get your taste-buds tingling
Make this spiced-chocolate aphrodisiac mousse from the fabulous Susan Jane White.  I love her decadent yet healthy sweet treats and this one is delicious. A perfect Valentine’s dessert, and so easy you’ll be making it again and again http://susanjanewhite.com/spiced-chocolate-mousse/. This will get your heart racing!

3) Dump the digital interference: 
Turn the TV and all your digital gadgets off! It’s so easy to get consumed by all the digital stimuli around us and it can play havoc with our personal relationships. Instead, why not play some of your favorite music, and give your partner some time and attention, away from social media.

4) Get some scents
Aromas can trigger varying emotional and physical responses in people and there’s nothing as pleasing to my nose than some wonderful essential oils.  Many essential oils have aphrodisiac qualities such as rose. (if it’s good enough for Cleopatra..) neroli, sandalwood, vanilla and jasmine. The handiest way to use essential oils is to heat the in an oil burner, but if you’re up to creating a massage lotion or oil - go for it! 

5) Go to bed!
Or at least, get to bed earlier, snuggle up together in freshly laundered sheets, and silk pillowcases, and feel the glow the next morning knowing you got your beauty sleep. That is, if you get your sleep ;) 

Happy Valentine’s xx

All wrapped up and ready for gifting

Christmas is just around the corner, and if you are looking for unique gift ideas for the ones you love, there is nothing more thoughtful than the gift of silk. Especially when that gift comes packaged beautifully and ready for gifting! Here is The Ethical Silk Company’s guide to the perfect gifts, delivered straight to your door.

Gifts for her
If you’re uncertain of sizing or it’s hard to choose what print your favorite lady would like, we recommend our mulberry silk scarf as an excellent introduction to the beauty and feel of mulberry silk. Wrapping this beauty around their neck, she will immediately experience the quality and simple sophistication of silk. Perfect for mums and grannies too – its heat regulating properties make our silk scarves an ideal practical gift for those who feel the cold!

Gifts for a new Mum and baby
With its numerous uses, our 100% mulberry silk cot sheet is the perfect welcome to the world; for a new baby. A mulberry silk eye mask will help Mum make the most of those precious hours of sleep. The cot sheet is the natural (undyed) ivory colour. Numerous uses include using as a swaddle, sheet for Moses basket / cot and a breathable, lightweight cover in hot weather - a true Gift for Life.

New Mums can enjoy a wonderful night's sleep with our mulberry silk eyemask. 100% eco-friendly mulberry silk on front & reverse with organic cotton filling for extra padded comfort, our eye masks are ideal for use at home and while traveling. 

A unique gift for your fashionista friend
We are so delighted with our newest product, our silk-sleeved top. 100% mulberry silk, French-seamed with stitch details at the sleeve trim, available in natural (undyed) ivory, lunar grey, coral/teal and grey/teal combinations. It’s the year-round perfect top for comfort, style and elegance. 

Gifts for him
Him? Really? You’ll be surprised to learn that our best selling product is our silk pillowcase, and many of our customers are male. Hot flushes and night sweats are often linked solely with females, but in reality men get night sweats too, for a range of reasons. And while sleeping on a silk pillowcase will not cure these conditions, male customers regularly feedback to us that using our silk pillowcases give them a far more comfortable night’s sleep. That’s because silk is a natural thermo-regulator, keeping you warm in cold weather, and cooling you down when it’s hot.

We’ve had many a skeptical male customer becoming one-men ambassadors for silk pillowcases, recommending them to friends who have similar sleep problems. If you have a partner, relative or friend who suffers with this condition (honestly you might be surprised if you ask them the question), a silk pillowcase is your only man!

Gifts for that special someone
It’s the ultimate ‘Christmas Wrapping’ for that most special of people – you! Feel the sheer comfort of being wrapped in silk and lounging around in style this Christmas with a 100% silk robe from The Ethical Silk Company. Happy Christmas, you know you deserve it! 

Natural beauty Tips Mammy Swears By

As sleeping on silk, a natural fibre, is so good for your skin and hair, I thought to share a few natural home beauty remedies that I’ve grown up with. It may seem a bit strange putting different foods on your face but trust me - my Mum has amazing skin, so much that on her 50th birthday she received ‘Happy 40th Birthday’ cards. I think that was the turning point for me and I started to take note of the various items coming out of the fridge or press and being rubbed onto skin. It does make sense though, especially when I don’t understand practically any of the ingredients on tubs of face creams. At least with these natural beauty tips, you know exactly what you’re using. Everyone’s skin is different though so do a patch test or just use on a small area when trying these natural beauty tips for the first time.

Here’s a few I’ve grown up with and work for me:

1) Porridge oats

Place a heaped teaspoon of organic oats into the palm of your hand, add two teaspoons of water and mix so it turns mushy. Then rub onto your face and leave for 10 minutes or so. The mixture will get hard and look very odd so lay low, especially out of the sight of children. Rinse off after approx. 10 minutes and your skin will feel exfoliated and beautifully soft.

2) Honey

After using the porridge mask, I normally wet my face with water and rub a teaspoon of honey onto my skin and neck in gentle circular motions. Leave it on for 30 minutes and rinse off. Honey is an antioxident leaving your skin soft and radiant. I use both of these home remedies weekly, usually when I’m watching a movie at home so I can hide away in the dark.

3) Coconut oil / Cold pressed castor oil

This is my nightly moisturiser. I find castor oil a little heavy on its own so mixed with coconut oil (50/50) gives a lovely consistency. Castor oil penetrates deep into the skin, softens and hydrates it. The oil helps to promote the production of elastin and collagen, which help to delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Coconut is an all round wonder. Give your face a massage when you are putting on your night time moisturiser. It’s amazing how much tension you can hold in your face and a gentle massage (no pulling or dragging though) will help stimulate skin cells and lymphatic drainage.

4) Banana peel

Keep a banana peel and rub the inside over you skin as a natural moisturiser. Wash off after approx 20mins. This is a handy one if you eat bananas with your breakfast and wait to put on makeup until after washing it off.

5) Baking soda & sea salt toothpaste

Mix together and dip a wet toothbrush into the mix. Brush with this mixture for pearly whites. Sodium bicarbonate is highly alkaline, and as such counteracts acids in the mouth (acids cause tooth decay), kills bacteria and germs, and combats bad breath. High in iodine, sea salt has antibacterial properties and helps neutralize acids in the mouth. Use a few times per week as well as your usual brushing routine.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

Eva

Busy times in Theni

Recently I received an update from Sr. Anastastia, who runs Jeevan Jyothi AIDS Centre in Theni, India, about the goings on in the hospice and community over the last few months (Oct - Dec ’15).

I've written about the Hospice previously (which you can read here) so here’s a snippet so you can see what our donations are currently supporting:

Although exceptionally busy with the hospice itself (unfortunately 192 inpatients were admitted in the last three months of 2015), an emphasis is placed on community development on the whole, with child safety a central concern. Life training skills are taught at local schools (approx. 800 pupils aged between 13 and 16 attended) along with training in 12 secondary schools about the prevention of child marriage and child sexual abuse (3010 pupils attended).

Community meetings were set up in 8 local villages where children were able to bring their problems and issues regarding cleanliness of the village, particularly cleaning of drainage and good drinking water supply. 

Celebrations were enjoyed for Diwali (Festival of Light) where, although a Hindu holiday, everyone in India seems to take part and enjoy. The hospice invited children and their parents from the local school for a day of games and food with clothes and food being distributed for each family to bring home.

After visiting the hospice and local community in Theni in 2009, and seeing how limited their resources are I was compelled to pledged 5% profits to them as one of our chosen charities. Focus Ireland also receives 5%. 

Thanks for reading,

Eva



Sustainable Living : The perils & flukey awards of an untended garden

A few years ago I tried my hand at gardening, confident I’d be smugly eating all my own vegetables in no time. I borrowed books from the library, read up on ‘companion planting’, the right time to plant various seeds and purchased seeds online with Irish Seedsavers (highly recommended). When all the research began to overwhelm, I decided to just plant the seeds that I liked, water them and hope for the best. For the first few years I did maintain the garden properly - weeded the beds, watered the plants, lay coffee grounds around to discourage slugs and was amazed to see how much bounty I got from the garden.

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Fast forward a few years and a few children later, the garden veg patch has not received the same attention it once did. I still plant every year but it’s the plants I know will grow easily, need the least maintenance and that I’ll use regularly. So, if you do like the idea of growing your own vegetables, with minimal effort, here’s what I’ve learnt:

Herbs are a pain, they just didn’t want to grow in my garden. Even mint, which everyone says will take over, didn’t like the look of our patch. 

Potatoes are winners. Buy a bag of starters from a garden centre or keep some from a bag of spuds at home that you like. Keep them in a press until they grow those weird looking knobs and then plant them in rows (approx. 40cm apart) with these knobs pointing up. You should really check them every couple weeks and build the soil up around them. Otherwise any potato that sees the sun will turn green and you can’t eat it. This year, my least attentive to date, I didn’t do this and had a few casualties.

I like the idea of growing a basic green salad in the garden. It’s really handy to be able to go outside and pick lettuce, rocket and spring onions and have a side dish for Summer dinners. Although spring onions can take longer to grow, lettuce and rocket grow easily and really quickly. I planted at the start of April and we didn’t buy lettuce or rocket all Summer long. In my optimism, I even bought tomato plants in the hope of producing an entire salad from the garden. Despite the crappy Summer this year, the tomato plants did grow. Although the yield wasn’t great, the tomatoes were the tastiest and sweetest ones I’ve eaten. 

The whole gardening experience was equally relaxing and trying this year as in their quest to help me, the kids seemed drawn to dig up the very things I was planting and trying to maintain. They were so excited to help me plant the seeds, help with the watering and run out to pick a couple of tomatoes and some lettuce for our lunch. I really recommend gardening with your kids but just don’t be too precious about the results and be prepared to have kid friendly back up tools as they will demand whatever it is you are using. Your plants will also be overwatered regularly.

As I only planted one flower bed (instead of the usual two) this year, the major blow came when I had to dig up the knee high weeds that had taken over due to my underwhelming urge to weed all Summer. Zero fun was had that day.

So, if you are eager to grow your own, start all the reading up now and by March forget anything you’ve learned and be ready to just throw the seeds in, cross your fingers and hope for the best. I swear by it.

Thanks for reading,

Eva

Mehera Shaw in Jaipur

In February this year I returned to India to visit the various production units along The Ethical Silk Company’s supply chain. It had been a few years since I had previously been in India (it appears young children can hamper your ability to roam around as freely as your pre baby days) so I was itching to return (read about the whole trip here). Even though most aspects of the business can be run remotely, thanks to the powers of the internet and Skype, there’s nothing like a face to face to have a proper talk with people along the supply chain and to discuss how things can move ahead.

As The Ethical Silk Company has been growing, I needed to source a second tailoring unit to work with and had been in contact with Mehera Shaw, a fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur. I was eager to visit and meet Shari, the founder. An added bonus was that I had never been in Rajasthan before and was looking forward to seeing the pink city. The brand, Mehera Shaw began in 1999 with the fairtrade production unit becoming a private limited company in 2007, priding itself on being a transparent, vertical supply chain using fair labour standards. 

"We believe that good design can and does go hand-in-hand with beautifully made, hand-crafted textiles, that sustainability, small-scale artisan production and good design are a good fit and the way of the future. We see it as a continuous cycle--on the production end, we believe in the fair trade model of people being able to help themselves and their success coming from themselves. The role of artisans and of everyone in the supply chain is important.  Everyone has a voice and a significance. I would also call this slow fashion --meaning, for me, that there is a story behind the production. It is a dialogue across cultures and brings people together through art, craft and understanding." --Shari

Product sampling at Mehera Shaw

Product sampling at Mehera Shaw

Being able to visit this sustainable production unit myself and meet the people working there was essential for our working together to commence. I was delighted to meet Shari, a truly kind and lovely lady and am delighted to say that we’re now producing our new products (stay tuned!!) in this Fairtrade unit as well as working with the Himalayan Tailoring Centre in Dharamsala (you can have a peek our Fairtrade tailored products here).

Trying my hand at block printing at Mehera Shaw's Dyeing Unit

Trying my hand at block printing at Mehera Shaw's Dyeing Unit

Mehara Shaw have also founded a non-profit foundation, Mehera Shaw Foundation Trust, whose mission is to support artisan development projects with a philosophy of emancipation through work, self building and dignity. Projects include women artisan micro-enterprise skills training programme making upcycled fashion accessories from post production scrap fabric. I LOVE the idea behind this project and am thinking hard on how The Ethical Silk Company can work with the Foundation, so again, watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Eva

World Fair Trade Day 2015 Saturday May 9th

Back when the idea for The Ethical Silk Company was a mere tingle in my tummy, I had to determine how I wanted the business to develop and what I wanted to achieve. Of course, the primary aim was to grow a profitable business but I wanted this to be done in a certain way - a transparent chain of production of beautiful products that are created in a fair and ethical way. This led me to find the particular animal-friendly mulberry silk our products are made from and it also brought me to the two Fair trade tailoring units in India where our products are made, Himalayan Tailoring Centre in Dharamshala, and Mehera Shaw in Jaipur

Staff at the Himalayan Tailoring Centre, a fair Trade unit in Dharamshala

Staff at the Himalayan Tailoring Centre, a fair Trade unit in Dharamshala

Most people have a good idea of what Fairtrade is and see the logo on various coffee, chocolate and bananas in their local supermarket, but as it is World Fair Trade Day this Saturday, I thought I’d give a bit of background to what #Fairtrade actually means. The movement began in the years after World War II, further developing in the Sixties. It’s main aim, to promote an economic system based on justice – fair prices, better working conditions, transparent trade relations –  provides a socially and environmentally sustainable economic model. It’s not just charity.

The 10 Principles of Fair Trade

The 10 Principles of Fair Trade

The World Fair Trade Day, started in 2001, is an initiative of WFTO that falls on the second Saturday of May of each year. It celebrates Fair Trade as ‘a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crises that has the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for small and disadvantaged producers.’ (www.wfto.com)

Buying Fair Trade products supports a system of respect - respect for the people involved in the production of the goods, and respect for the environment. Naturally we are all going to check the price tag before purchasing an item but usually when a price seems to good to be true, someone along the production line is paying the price and is being exploited, be it the farmer that grows the cotton or the tailor that makes the garment. 

The encouraging results from an experiment by Jens Hainmueller  shows that when people (Americans in this case) say they prefer to buy Fair Trade, they actually will fork out more of their hard earned cash and purchase the Fair Trade product. “There’s a lot of difference between cheap talk and real money,” Hainmueller says. “This research shows people are willing to pay for the label.” Very reassuring indeed.

Fair Trade products demonstrate that it is possible to produce, consume and save, while respecting social and environmental criteria, distributing profits throughout the production supply chain, taking care of small producers, their lands and their communities (www.wfto.com).

Support Fair Trade, especially this Saturday. Buy a Fair Trade banana, a Fair Trade coffee or some Fair Trade chocolate and remember the good that’s coming from that purchase justifies you eating more of that Fair Trade chocolate. It’d be rude not to.

Thanks for reading and remember, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Have a peek at our Fair Trade tailored products too, you'll be delighted to tick off that birthday / wedding / new baby gift you've been meaning to get!

Eva


Fashion Revolution Day 24.04.15

If you can spare 5 minutes today please contact the brand of a piece of your clothing and ask them ‘who made my clothes?’

Today is the two year anniversary since the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh where 1133 people were killed when a building housing garment factories collapsed. The previous few days, when cracks appeared in the building walls, a number of workers in the building were evacuated but the garment workers, threatened with losing their jobs if they didn’t return to work, were the vast majority of the casualties and fatalities.

This tragedy has been a major catalyst in highlighting the conditions many garment workers are subjected to with reports of gross mistreatment and abuse and working dangerously long hours in unsafe conditions for exceptionally low pay. Changes have transpired such as factory safety audits, workers unions (without the owners permission as was the previous case!) being formed and confidential report lines for workers being set up. And although the Bangladeshi government have increased minimum wage workers continue to seek a further increase. The point has also been risen that as garment factory buildings are undergoing renovations to meet standards, workers are not receiving any compensation for loss of earnings.

Bangladeshi protesters campaign for compensation for Rana Plaza disaster victims. Photograph: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Zuma Press/Corbis

Bangladeshi protesters campaign for compensation for Rana Plaza disaster victims. Photograph: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Zuma Press/Corbis

Today is #FashionRevolutionDay where people are encouraged to wear their clothes inside out to demonstrate (through the tags on show) the supply chain of a garment. All too often companies outsource production through an agent who seeks to get the lowest price possible for production. Fierce competition means that ultimately it is the worker that pays the price as they are forced to make more and work longer hours for exceptionally low pay. Subsequently, the actual brand and therefore the garment wearer is oblivious to where their clothes are being made and by whom. The chain of production, from field to production, is well and truly lost.

Livia Firth, a staunch fashion activist and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge puts it well - "This is a global problem - we need to question how loyal we are to all brands to flush out sweatshops all over the world, even in developed countries, on our doorstep. If we imagine we are voting every time we buy something, and we use our purchase power, then things will change."

One way for the public to show support for a new standard of fashion production is to question companies on their transparency and the ins and outs of their supply chain. A simple tweet to a particular company, a phone call, email, whatever, is all it takes to show a committed interest. Support the companies that do show transparency and if you have the chance to get involved, link in with what’s going on in your country on Fashion Revolution Day.

Thanks for reading (and thanks in advance for asking #whomademyclothes?)

Eva

My long awaited visit to India

After a long time in the pipeline I finally got back out to India in February this year to visit the various production and tailoring units we work with. Although my last trip incorporated a holiday, with a young family at home I didn’t have that luxury this time round - it was more a case of trying to fit as much as possible in a short amount of time. So with 8 flights in 9 days planned and 5 units to visit I knew it would be a full on trip. I brought Mark, a photographer friend, along for the trip (all pics courtesy of Mark Phillips, more to be posted on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter).Mark has travelled in India a few times and knows the lay of the land so he was ready for a busy trip and lots of good food.

As our boys are so young I had really mixed feelings about leaving for 9 days - not for them, I knew they’d be delighted hanging out with their dad for the time, it was more that I hadn’t had 9 days without one or two small people to be responsible for in over 3 years. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself and warned Mark I may feel the need to offer him snacks and ask him if he needed the toilet. It turns out I was fine and the novelty of just having myself to look after and being able to read uninterrupted was an extra bonus of the trip.

After a long flight from Dublin to Hyderabad (I can’t complain too much as I got bumped up to business class for the second leg!) we arrived with Kusuma Rajaiah, the founder of Ahimsa Silk. Here in his home we met with Rajaiah’s family and the beautiful moths that emerge from the silk cocoons before the silk is harvested. These moths are spared the fate of being boiled alive (like in regular silk production) and only the discarded cocoon is used for Ahimsa Silk. 

After sampling the biryani that Hyderabad is famous for (it’d have been rude not to), the next morning we flew from Hyderabad to Raipur to visit the mill where the silk is spun into yarn. Although I knew the basics of yarn making I had no idea of the intricate system involved where each stage of the process was repeated at least 4 times to ensure top quality yarn. The mill was HUGE, like a small village and we had the privilege of staying in their on site guesthouse. After spending a day at the mill in Raipur, we took a morning flight to Bangalore in south India to visit the weavers and eat some masala dosa while still in the south (if you are yet to try masala dosa do so immediately. Ambala on Camden St. in Dublin make a fantastic one).

Bangalore was hot, busy and loud. We had seemed to escape the hustle and bustle in Hyderabad and Raipur so it was reassuring to see that Indian life was still as I had remembered it, at least down south. We visited the weavers where the silk is woven on autolooms that work at an unbelievable speed. Being on site meant I was fully able to talk with Rajaiah and the weavers about future developments rather than emailing back and forth so it was fantastic to get so much ground covered. Unsurprisingly, I could have done with more time there but I reckon that is always going to be the case when a trip has a tight timeframe.

After Bangalore, Rajaiah headed back to Hyderabad and Mark and I carried on to Dharmsala. With a full day of flying from south to north we arrived in the Himalayas where fresh air and (relative) calm awaited us. We headed straight for Eternal Creation’s Himalayan Tailoring Centre, where our products are tailored. The unit is terrific, great atmosphere and really lovely people working here. I suppose working surrounded by the stunning Himalayas has to rub off on your mood to some extent! I got to meet the tailors that work on our products and talk extensively with Ayaz, the head tailor. As the next day was a Saturday and the tailoring unit was closed meant we had the luxury of a day off. It had been a few years since I was last in Dharmsala so it was lovely to see the area again and take in a walk to a local waterfall. We had heard a sufi fusion band (don’t ask me to explain) were playing in a local rooftop bar that night and went along to check it out. Although it was pretty cold, everyone, both tourists and locals, got really into the music and it was a good laugh and nice to enjoy an aul Kingfisher beer.

Sunday was mainly spent flying from Dharamsala to Jaipur via Delhi. I had never been to Rajasthan before so it was great to see even a small part of it. Jaipur is known as the pink city, and it really is pink, and pretty, and very clean. We stayed at a guesthouse that had the sweetest garden I’ve seen with plants and flowers potted in teacups and  rabbits roaming around in the morning time. In Jaipur I visited another fairtrade tailoring unit, Mehera Shaw, where our new sleepwear range is being developed. Here they have created a new dyeing unit and carry out traditional block printing which is all food for thought for me now. I even tried my hand at block printing and had the pleasure of seeing the artists at work.

Trying my hand at block printing at Mehera Shaw in Jaipur

Trying my hand at block printing at Mehera Shaw in Jaipur

After a fascinating day at the tailoring and dyeing units in Jaipur and eating delicious Rajasthani thali, it was onto Delhi for a night in the old backpacker haunt of Paherganj before my flight home the next day. A beautifully uneventful flight back to Dublin saw me suddenly back home on Tuesday night reading bedtime stories to my three year old and dreaming of a traveling adventure for the whole family to go on. 

Thanks for reading,

Eva



The Silk Road and how it shaped the modern world

Many people have heard of the Silk Road, the vast expansive route that facilitated the silk industry for centuries, and allowed trade to flourish between Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We’ve even mentioned it before in our previous blogs about the history of silk. But this week, we decided to give our #EthicalSilkCo followers a little more detail on just how influential the Silk Road was (and still is) in shaping the world we know today.

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The Silk Road itself is just under 6,500km’s long and expands across much of Asia, the Middle East, into Europe and finally Africa. It gradually became a popularized route when first, the Persians, and then Italians, joined in the sericulture industry to produce the much sought after material: Silk. By the 13th century the Silk Road, or Silk route as it was also commonly referred to, had been widely acknowledged and permanently established.

Despite the route not being officially established until the 2nd century BC, ancient remains found in Egypt indicate that Silk was travelling along its various tributary routes long before previously thought, even as far back as 1070 BC. Evidence suggests that some Egyptian mummies, presumably royalty, were buried with silk along with other valuable or necessary items which they would need when passing into the afterlife.

However, it wasn’t just tangible goods that were traded along the Silk Road. Cultural and religious exchanges began to meander along the route, acting as a connection for a global network where East and West ideologies met. This led to the spread of many ideologies, cultures and even religions. For example the route contributed to the spread of Islam, with many Arab Muslims travelling along the Silk Road to China in order to spread the Islamic faith. Additionally Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Nestorianism were all introduced to China and parts of India because of the Silk Roads influence.  

The spread of papermaking was also influenced by the route.  This production method spread from China through much of central Asia as a direct result of the route itself. Architecture, town planning, as well as music and art from many different cultures were transported along the Silk Road. Actors from the East performed in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). Music from Eastern Turkestan and Central Asia grew popular in China, while buildings such as Timur's structures in Samarkand and Timurids tombs at Gur-Emir, have heavy architectural influences from various countries such as Iran, Georgia and India.

Even today, the Silk Road holds economic and cultural significance for many. It is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the United Nations World Tourism Organization has developed the route as a way of ‘fostering peace and understanding’. Having visited a number of countries the Silk Road passes through (I’ll do a write up on those again), I can definitely say that taking a trip along this route is incredible and well worth the long distance travelled.

If you’d like to have your very own piece of the Silk Road, why not check out our range of ethically produced mulberry silk garments. Remember, you can also stay up to date with everything to do with the Ethical Silk Company, including all our blogs by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Thanks,

Eva

5 Reasons silk is truly a super fabric

For our blog this week, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the material that makes the Ethical Silk Company a reality - silk. We know from previous posts that silk comes from the silkworm (or Bombyx Mori) and it has been historically a much sought after material, even becoming a currency of its own in ancient China.

1. Luxurious comfort

Silk has traditionally been valuable for a reason - it is a luxurious material that shimmers and shines. It is one of the most comfortable materials known, as its low density makes it light and serene/pleasant for those wearing the material. Hence why silk garments had been reserved for royalty and aristocracy, up until the 20th century.

2. Strength and elasticity

However, as delicate and soft the feel of silk is, its strength is impressive. It is the strongest known natural fibre, nylon being the only other material that comes close. For example, a steel filament of the same diameter as silk will break before a filament of silk! With a moderate abrasion resistance though, most silks are unsuitable for ‘high rub areas’ like carpets or regular used furniture. 

Having good tensile strength, silk can withstand large amounts of pulling pressure. Additionally silk is very elastic, stretching to between 10 and 20% its length without breaking. Therefore it retains its shape well, resisting creasing and wrinkling better than other materials

3. Warm in winter - Cool in summer

Silk is also a fantastic natural insulator and absorbs moisture. As it is a protein fibre, silk is a non conductor of heat, like wool. As a result, silk garments tend to keep the wearer warm in winter, while its absorption attribute cools them during the summer months. Furthermore, because of this high absorbency rate, silk can be easily dyed in many colours.

4. Resistant to moths and dust mites

As silk fibre is primarily composed of 80% fibroin and 20% sericin, the material remains resistant to various moths and dust mites. However, the material may be attacked by certain larvae. Additionally, silk will not mildew, unless it’s under extreme dampness conditions similar to tropical dampness.

So, not here then....

So, not here then....

5. Easily cleaned and washed

Silk doesn’t attract dirt either, due to its incredibly smooth surface - the dirt that does sometimes gather will be easily removed with a simple wash or dry clean. Despite being recommended to dry clean silk garments, you can hand wash them in mild soap water (provided the silk has been preshrunk by the manufacturer).

This wonderful material still has to be looked after like any other, in order for it to maintain its strength and durability. Our guide to caring for your silk will take care of any issues with washing, stains and making your silk garments looking like new every time! Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to stay up to date with all things #EthicalSilkco.

Thanks,

Eva


The History of Silk II: The Silk Road and Spread to Europe

A few months ago, we gave you a little insight into the extensive and exciting history of silk. In our previous blog post, we discussed silks early dominance within Chinese culture and how it spread to nations such as Japan and Korea. So today, we reveal the second part, which includes details of the infamous Silk Road, how the materials spread to Europe and how it’s helped to shape the world we know today.

With the secret of sericulture finally revealed, silk production inevitably spread westward. Even since Roman times, silk was a highly sought after material by Europeans, but reproducing it proved unsuccessful. Around the 6th Century however, the Persians mastered this production method. This was followed closely by the Byzantine Empire, who forged their own monopoly on the materials manufacture thanks to two Nestorian Monks.

Furthermore, silk also spread rapidly through Africa, when the Arabs conquered much of the Persian Empire during the 7th Century. Their vast sericulture production techniques were adopted quickly, resulting in its spread to the continent, as well as Sicily and Spain. All of this trade extended the Silk Road to a mammoth 6,400km long stretch through Asia, the Middle East and on into Africa and Europe. 

This trade route proved lucrative for many Venetian merchants during the 13th Century and eventually convinced many Chinese and other Asian/Middle Eastern silk manufacturers to settle in Italy in order to provide a steady flow of silk for the Italian mass market. This eventually led to Italian dominance in silk production throughout the region. Even today, this silk is highly regarded, especially in the region of Como, where they have a Silk Museum dedicated to the illustrious history of the textile industry.

          Marco Polo, Famous Venetian Merchant, travelling along the Silk Road

          Marco Polo, Famous Venetian Merchant, travelling along the Silk Road

The strength of Italian silk in Europe remained dominant until the 17th Century, when King Francis I invited Italian producers to France in order to establish a French silk industry. It’s important to note that silk remained a luxury material throughout Europe during medieval times,  being reserved mainly for aristocrats and royalty. As a result, both the French and long standing Italian silk industry jockeyed for dominance in the European continent. However, neither of them would remain assertive for long.

During the 19th Century, Japan emerged as the top silk manufacturing nation in the world as Europe’s production flat lined with the Industrial Revolution. Despite a halt during World War II, Japan reasserted its sericulture authority for decades, only for China to re-establish itself as the globes leading producer during the 1970’s. 

Today, silk still plays an important role in many nations’ economies, especially China’s. In 2009, the Chinese market contributed almost 81.95% of the 126,995 metric tones of silk produced that year. Additionally, India, Japan and Korea continue to supply large amounts to the global market. Our own ethically produced silk originates in India, while it’s tailored in the Himalayas. Find out more about the Ethical Silk Company and our products here, or why not check us out on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Thanks,

Eva


World AIDS Day 2014 & The Jeevan Jyothi Centre

With World AIDS Day fast approaching (1st December), our blog this week is dedicated to the deadly virus and what’s being done to overcome it. We’ll also be focusing on one of our chosen charities, the Jeevan Jyothi HIV/AIDS Centre in India, the fantastic work they do to combat the spread of the infectious disease, and how they help rebuild the lives of those affected by it.

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is essentially like other common viruses, except that it hijacks the bodies T-cells (immune cells) forcing them to make copies of the virus and finally destroying them before moving on. Over a period of time, if enough of your bodies T-cells are annihilated, (which are important in fighting infections) your body can lose the ability to fight off diseases. As a result, AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome develops, leading to increased likelihood of death from infections or other diseases because your body no longer has the ability to fight them off. Not everyone who has HIV progresses to AIDS however, as with proper antiretroviral therapy (ART), many can keep the HIV virus levels low in their bodies. The introduction of ART has meant many people today living with HIV can hope to live a normal life expectancy.

HIV/AIDS origin is believed to be from Africa, transferred to humans between 1884 and 1924, eventually making its way to the USA during the 1970’s. It’s first reported cases among gay men in Manhattan sparked widespread panic, while others fought strongly for increased awareness of the disease. A recent movie adaptation of the Normal Heart attempted to document this struggle, winning an Emmy award in the process. Nevertheless, the spread of HIV/AIDS continued, reaching Europe in 1982 and China in 1985, the disease reaching all regions of the world at this point. Today, approximately 35 million people live or battle with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

However, there are more positive signs appearing each day in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa where the disease has been rampant for decades. Awareness is also a major factor and numerous campaigns, like this one in Australia recently, seek to raise the profile of the virus and the importance of stifling its spread. Possibly the greatest awareness campaign for HIV/AIDS is World Aids Day, which takes place on December 1st every year. In 1988, health ministers met to deliberate on AIDS, resulting in the formation of the annual event.

The reason we’ve decided to do a blog on this topic is primarily because of the close association we have with a charity combating the disease. The Jeevan Jyothi HIV/AIDS centre in Theni, India is a shining example of institutions that help those affected by the consequences of this horrible virus. 

Working with the presentation society and tailoring unit in Theni, the Jeevan Jyothi Centre seeks to help those whose lives have been detrimentally affected by HIV/AIDS. The centre offers ICTC counseling for those infected by the disease, as well as educational programs for community members for the reintegration of those suffering from HIV/AIDS. They provide an enabling environment that is free of discrimination, provide care and protection for orphans or vulnerable children, as well as capacity building training in social work. The Jeevan Jyothi Centre also actively takes part in reversing the diseases prevalence in Goa (region of India) with the support of the National Aids Control Society.

As a result of the brilliant work undertaken by the centre and those who work there, more than 5000 people have been counseled with the number increasing every day. This has contributed to a significant reduction in the number of infections across India in recent years, a 57% reduction in the overall infection rate since 2001 and 29% decrease in the rate of HIV/AIDS related deaths since 2007. Similar rates of reduction from other parts of the world are providing positive news in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but the battle is not over which is why supporting charities like the Jeevan Jyothi Centre is extremely important.

We’re proud to say we support this charity directly, by donating 5% of our profits to the centre itself. We also donate a further 5% to another Irish charity, Focus Ireland, who tackle the homeless problem across the country. Seeing the work done by the Jeevan Jyothi centre and knowing that each ethical silk purchase makes a difference in someone’s life, is something we’re delighted to be a part of!

Don’t forget that you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep up to date with all things Ethical Silk Company.

Thanks,

Eva

The Millennium Development Goals

To celebrate United Nations Day & World Development Information Day, we’ve decided to take a look at one of the most important aspects of development the UN has implemented to date: The Millennium Development Goals. These goals, drawn up and adopted in 2000, created a blueprint for global development, agreed upon by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions - its ultimate goal is to create a prosperous and fully developed planet for all mankind.

There are 8 Millennium Development Goals or MDG’s: 

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Global partnership and development 

Why are the MDG’s important? Well, they are the international community's most ‘broadly shared, comprehensive and focused framework for reducing poverty’. A co-coordinated set of quantitative goals that the wider international community recognises and includes specific poverty reduction targets by the year 2015. 

For example, if the MDG’s are achieved, an estimated 500 million people will be lifted out of extreme poverty, with a further 300 million no longer suffering from hunger. There will be dramatic progress in children’s health and rather than die before reaching their fifth birthday, approximately 30 million children will be saved, along with the lives of more than 2 million mothers. Additionally, achieving these Goals will result in safer drinking water for a further 350 million people and 650 million more people will have access to basic sanitation. This allows them to lead healthier and more dignified lives. Education will become more widespread, with hundreds of millions more women and girls attending school. They will also have access to increased economic and political opportunities, coupled with greater security and overall safety. 

However, recent evidence has emerged that the targets set out in 2000 may not be achieved in accordance with the original schedule. Major causes include governance failures, poverty traps, lack of resources, civil society issues and the lack of support from the private sector. There are some regions that are reaching these targets. In sub-Saharan Africa, many nations are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress is possible when “Government leadership, policies and strategies for scaling up public investments are combined with financial and technical support from the international community”. Malawi, for example, has raised agricultural productivity; primary school enrolment has gone up in Ghana; Senegal is on track to meet the MDG target on water and sanitation; and Zambia has improved access to basic rural health services. We’ve even seen examples of increased women’s empowerment emerge from our own business partnerships!

Unfortunately, many other regions are struggling to meet the MDG’s, including large parts of Asia, who struggle with health, poverty and environmental sustainability. This is where we believe the private sector and businesses can play a major role. The increase in Fairtrade and ethical movements shows that each individual can make a significant difference in the fight against poverty, simply by changing purchasing decisions. If companies adopt a fairer ethos towards doing business with third world suppliers, the benefits are endless

Here at The Ethical Silk Company, we believe in doing our bit to further the MDG’s. That’s why we support two great charities in Focus Ireland and the Jeevan Jyothi HIV/AIDS centre, combating homelessness, poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS respectively. Additionally, we partner with Eternal Creation, a Fairtrade certified tailoring company operating in the Himalayas. They provide safe working conditions for employees, pay them fairly and are a shining example of ethical business practice. Together, we can exterminate poverty around the globe by taking positive business actions and choosing more ethical consumer purchases!

If you’d like to know more about The Ethical Silk Company, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Don’t forget to check out our brand new range of ethically produced mulberry silk garments, especially if you’re already thinking of that perfect Christmas gift for loved ones!

Thanks,

Eva

The importance of Fairtrade: Fighting to exterminate poverty

For many of us today, Fairtrade is now a common term. An increasing number of businesses, both nationally and internationally, claim to be ‘Fairtrade companies’ or ‘Fairtrade certified’. But what exactly is Fairtrade? What does being Fairtrade certified mean and more importantly, why is it so important? This week we decided to delve deeper into the world of Fairtrade and the reason why we need fairer, more transparent business practices on a global scale.

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So, first of all what is Fairtrade? According to FINE principles: “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.” Simply put, it’s all about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. The majority of poorly paid farmers produce commodities like coffee, cotton, olive oil, fruits and hemp, so guaranteed minimum prices are extremely important to these producers. 

Fairtrade requires compliance with domestic and international labour laws, which include the prohibition of child and forced labour, as well as child trafficking. Fairtrade food and drinks are also certified by independent, third party labeling organizations. If all of those reasons aren’t enough, check out this info graph detailing the endless amount of positive impacts Fairtrade makes. 

This is important because the vast majority of farmers affected by unfair pricing for produce, typically reside in conflict zones and are often some of the poorest in the world. Many are frequently exploited and essentially stolen from, which keeps such zones unsafe and dangerous for living in. Fairtrade can help farmers rebuild their lives, despite war and outbreaks of violence. When commercial buyers pay fair premiums these farmers no longer live in extreme poverty. Instead, they earn sufficiently to provide and protect their families, as well strengthen their overall communities through finances, adequate nutrition and education.

The first attempt at the creation of a Fairtrade movement began in the USA in the 1940’s and 50’s, when various religious and political NGO groups initiated the commercialization of Fairtrade goods. Ten Thousand Villages began to develop Fairtrade supply chains in 1946, followed by SERRV International in 1949. Most products were sold at fairs or in churches. The current Fairtrade movement emerged out of Europe in the 1960’s however, a notable contributor being Oxfam UK who started to sell crafts made by Chinese refugees in Oxfam shops in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The movement gained international recognition in 1968, when the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD, adopted the slogan "Trade not Aid". This put emphasis on the establishment of Fairtrade practices with the poorer, developing nations of the world.

Today, Fairtrade is a growing movement. Numerous businesses now recognise the importance of greater transparency in terms of their product sourcing, reflecting the increasing awareness among consumers about where their produce is coming from. A growing number of customers for many companies now demand a more ethical approach to the treatment of workers and farmers who traditionally would have been marginalised by large corporations. 

Here at the Ethical Silk Company, we pride ourselves on being a part of this movement - being ethical is something we really take into consideration every step of the way, from sourcing our materials to manufacturing. We’re delighted to be in partnership with Eternal Creation, whose tailoring unit creates the beautiful mulberry silk products our customers enjoy. This company is 100% Fairtrade certified and do a fabulous job of supporting its workers, providing them with a good wage and ultimately treating them fairly. 

So, you can sleep easy in the fact that your Ethical Silk Company purchase supports poorer farmers and their families, providing them with a more sustainable and prosperous future. Couple that with one of our fabulous pillowcases, and you’ve a perfect night’s sleep ahead of you! Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more updates on everything #EthicalSilkCo.

Thanks,

Eva


Focus Ireland and the fight against homelessness

This week’s blog takes a look at one of the charities we support here at the Ethical Silk Company - Focus Ireland. With it being World Homeless Day (10th October) we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the reasons we support such a worthy cause and give our followers an idea of the fantastic work this charity does in Ireland.

Homelessness is a problem that affects an estimated 100 million people worldwide. Due to displacement from political, civil and natural disasters this number is only increasing. World Homeless Day draws attention to homeless people’s needs, both locally and internationally, and provides opportunities for the community to get involved. Recently, we’ve seen the topic of homelessness here in Ireland become much more prominent in current affairs. Numerous awareness campaigns coupled with shocking statistics have resulted in news and TV coverage of the increasing number of people being made homeless. An estimated 150 people sleep on the streets each night in Dublin alone, with the charity Simon Community recently stating that up to 1,400 people are forced to seek emergency accommodation each night in the capital.

Homelessness in Dublin is on the increase

Homelessness in Dublin is on the increase

To tackle these very concerning trends, charities like Focus Ireland and Simon Community are calling on the government for increased involvement: “With the budget due soon, we call on the Government to honour their commitment to social justice and ensure that the benefits of the recovery are targeted to protect the most vulnerable men and women in Ireland.” Many voluntary bodies also indicate that the 2016 target set out to end long term homelessness is now unachievable. The work these charities do, Focus Ireland in particular, cannot therefore be underestimated.

Some of the facilities provided by Focus Ireland include drop in advice services, short and long term supported accommodation, daytime support and food services. Childcare, prison in reach services and education training & employment services are also provided. In Dublin city centre for example, Focus Ireland’s Coffee shop provides food and a comfortable environment for homeless adults, families and children. Additionally, the charity is involved in multiple high profile fundraising events annually including Shine a light night, The Four Peaks challenge and Trek to Kilimanjaro. Focus Ireland also encourages individuals to volunteer and organise their own fundraisers.

Recently, a new campaign was launched by Focus Ireland in an attempt to address the issue of young people becoming homeless. This video campaign, in association with the charities corporate sponsor Aviva, has garnered support from multiple Irish figureheads including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Irish rugby star Rob Kearney. This is yet another example of the great strides the charity is taking to tackle the underlying issues of homelessness in Ireland. 

Moone Boy’s David Rawle also features in the video

Moone Boy’s David Rawle also features in the video

These charities cannot survive without funding, which is why for every Ethical Silk Company purchase 5% of profits are donated to Focus Ireland. We’re very proud of supporting such a brilliant Irish charity and would encourage all our #EthicalSilkCo followers to aid Focus Ireland in any way possible, whether it is by purchasing Ethical Silk products or by donating to them directly. Visit their website to find out more about all upcoming fundraisers and any other information you may need.

Thanks,

Eva


The silk worm: the giver of fine fabric

With World Animal Day here today (4th October), we’ve decided to dedicate this weeks blog to our favourite animal - the silk worm. Because of the incredible life cycle of this small creature and the admiration we have for its ability to produce one of the most beautiful fabrics on the planet, we’ve decided to take an in depth look into its life and its creation of silk.

Bombyx mori, Latin for ‘silkworm of the mulberry tree’, is more commonly known as the silk worm. These creatures are actually classified as caterpillars from the Bombicidae family and live exclusively off of mulberry leaves. The silk worm feeds incessantly day and night, resulting in incredibly fast growth: they will grow to roughly 10,000 times their original size within their short lifespan! Subsequently, the silkworm will begin to spin a cocoon in order to protect itself while it undergoes metamorphosis. This is made out of a continuous silk thread, which is anywhere between 600m and 900m long.

The silkworm itself has a relatively short lifespan, ranging from between 2 and 3 months. It has three growth stages: larva, pupa and adult. The larva hatches from a small black egg and begins feeding on mulberry leaves, which continues for four to six weeks. When the larva reaches its target length (roughly three inches), the caterpillar pupates and spends three days spinning a silk cocoon. It takes about three weeks for an adult moth to then emerge from this cocoon. However life as an adult silk worm is very short, approximately five days. Many live long enough to simply just reproduce; females lay eggs almost immediately and die, while the males live only a few short days after this.

The beginning of the silkworm cocoons

The beginning of the silkworm cocoons

Nevertheless, in their brief lives silk worms give the world one of its most valuable materials. Silk has long been prized as a luxury fabric for thousands of years and its economic value to humanity is highlighted by the fact that in China alone, the silk industry turnover is close to $2.5 billion per annum. As we’ve discussed before, the silk industry has always been economically important to this region and remains one of the largest global producers, alongside India, Thailand and Brazil.

Modern ‘Mechanized’ silk production

Modern ‘Mechanized’ silk production

Traditionally in the production of silk, also known as sericulture, silk worms have an even shorter life span. Many do not reach adulthood as they are very often killed before hatching to make the silk weaving process easier, reducing labour intensity and therefore costs of production. However, a new method pioneered by Kusuma Rajaiah of Ahimsa Silk, creates an opportunity for silk worms to live their full, natural lives, while also producing beautiful silk. In fact, because the silk worms are allowed to complete metamorphosis in full, ahimsa silk is regarded as a higher quality garment, softer and finer in comparison to regular silk with a more subtle pearl sheen. We’re delighted to have this fantastic company as our supplier and if you’d like to know more about them, read our exclusive blog covering their work here

Kusuma Rajaiah and his silk

Kusuma Rajaiah and his silk

What we do for these amazing animals via Ahimsa Silk is something we’re very proud of and one of the reasons the Ethical Silk Company is, well, ethical! Why not support Ahimsa Silk through an Ethical Silk Co purchase for you or a loved one. Don’t forget to like and share the blog with friends or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Above all though, enjoy World Animal Day by celebrating your favourite animal!

Thanks,

Eva