When I was younger, I played in the backyard constantly, making (vegan-friendly) dirt pies. I’d pick up rocks and watch earthworms squirm in fear as I accidentally destroyed their dark home beneath the rock. Silkworms aren’t much different from the earthworms I knew as a child.

They’re easily startled, and they feel pain—as all animals do.

Growing is what silkworms do best—they grow to about 70 times their original size and shed their skin four times during a process called “molting.” And their cocoons are made from a single thread of silk that ranges from 900 to 3,000 feet long—that’s the length of three to ten football fields. After all of that, silkworms change into moths.

But worms who are used to make silk are steamed, boiled, or gassed—while they’re still ALIVE in their cocoons.

 1 pound of silk = 3,000 dead silkworms!
You could be wearing the product of a massacre and not even realize it.

Silkworms being placed in scalding hot water.

Silkworms being placed in scalding hot water.

Silk, which is made from the cocoons of silkworms, can be found in everyday clothing and essentials such as bed sheets, pillows, headscarves, dresses, and even hair-care products.

Coconut Hair Spray

That’s right—there could even be worm remnants in your hair. Disgustingly, a ton of shampoos are made with silk. So the next time your hair is feeling dull, liven it up with cruelty-free (and worm-free) products like this coconut oil hair spritz.

Silkworm graveyard

Silk moth pupae | Nathan Nelson | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

These li’l worms were meant to flutter around freely, but they’ll never get the chance to do so because their cocoon holds more importance than their lives—at least to those who buy and wear silk. But YOU can change that. Help these cuties grow into moths as nature intended.

Silkworms with text

Silkworms | Cameliatwu | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

What can you do to help?

It’s simple! Before purchasing bed sheets, pillows, that prom dress you saw in a store window last week, new hair-care products, or a tie for your dad, be sure to check the item’s tag for silk (look for alternatives such as satin, nylon, polyester or rayon instead). You could avoid wearing dead bugs AND save thousands of living beings just by flipping over a label.

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