Don’t be deceived by cactuses’ prickly appearance. Cactus silk is super-soft and is making a name for itself as the new vegan silk.
The Saharan aloe vera cactus (part of the agave family) provides the natural fibers to make this silk, also known as “vegetable silk” or “Sabra silk.” This fabric is known for its strength and quality. This plant-derived silk has been made with the same process for centuries, by crushing cactus leaves and then washing and hammering the fibers, which are then woven into thread and dyed. What’s wrong with silk from silkworms? It’s created through a cruel process in which silkworms, which are silkmoth larvae, are steamed or gassed alive in their cocoons. Approximately 3,000 caterpillars are killed to make just 1 pound of raw silk.
Anyone who has ever seen caterpillars become startled when they are touched while crawling on a leaf must acknowledge that the insects are sentient—they produce endorphins and have a physical response to pain. Besides cactus silk, other cruelty-free materials that you can use include nylon, polyester, Tencel, milkweed seed-pod fibers, silk-cotton tree filaments, and rayon. Cactus silk is yet another indication that the vegan fashion revolution is here to stay.